The organizers of the Coffee for Peace project are launching an event called the Virtual Buyers Caravan, designed to bring coffee farmers and potential buyers together online.
The four-day event, taking place online Aug. 11-14, will involve coordinated real-time tastings of coffees from a different producer group each day, including the Coffee Growers Committee of Cauca, Cencoic in Popayan; Cafinorte in Santander de Quilichao, and Cafioccidente in Restrepo.
Coffees are being shipped to pre-registered participants in both green and roasted form, with roasted coffees allowing for a shared tasting experience, while potential buyers may also roast samples to their liking. Buyers must apply to attend the online event by Wednesday, July 22.
Launched in 2019 by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) with funding provided by USAID, the Coffee for Peace program is designed to benefit coffee producers in Colombian coffeelands that were previously marked by violence.
The virtual caravan event is designed to replicate an important pillar of modern-day specialty coffee that has been lost during the social-distancing and travel-restricted era of COVID-19: in-person connections betweens buyers and sellers.
“The specialty coffee business is built upon the coffee roaster’s interaction with growers,” KC O’Keefe of California-based Boot Coffee, which has been contracted to help run the Coffee for Peace program, said in a Coffee for Peace announcement this week. “Vacant that interaction, specialty coffee becomes a simple high-quality commodity. The Virtual Buyers Caravan attempts to throw a critical interaction lifeline to keep specialty coffee special through COVID-19.”
There is also genuine concern among both buyers and producers of coffee that as a global recession unfolds, buyers everywhere may be tightening their purse strings and shrinking their supply networks. The virtual caravan, meanwhile, seems to work against that trend.
“While there is no substitute for stepping foot on a coffee farm, technology has improved so dramatically in recent years that it really is possible to visit coffee-producing communities, engage with producer groups, and develop long-term relationships without having to board a plane,” David Pohl of Boot Coffee and Coffee for Peace said.
Each day of the virtual event will feature 90-minute virtual visits to one of four different producer organizations, including live question-and-answer sessions and coffee tastings. Here’s more from Coffee for Peace:
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.