This New Coffee Enterprise Aims to Help Small Roasters Source More Sustainably

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Genuine Origin offers roasters a shortcut to purchasing coffee that’s already been incorporated into a sustainable supply chain. Photo credit: Facebook/Genuine Origin

Editor’s note: We kicked off our first annual Food Loves Tech event last summer in Chelsea—here’s a recap. We’re bringing a taste of the food and farming future back this year, but just across the East River at Industry City. Leading up to the event, this story is part of an ongoing series about technology’s effects on our food supply.

Making a conscious coffee choice as a consumer is easier than ever these days, with quality roasters taking pains to let you know which beans are farmed, and bought, most sustainably. But for coffee roasting companies along the chain, making the right decisions hasn’t always been so easy—particularly in the domain of smaller, craft roasters who are just starting out.

Enter Genuine Origin, a newly launched enterprise from legendary global coffee importers Volcafe, tailored to the needs of the conscientious start-up coffee company. The micro-roaster boom that’s emerged from today’s coffee culture is based largely on a renewed recognition of the importance of sourcing—not only from a quality standpoint, but from one of ethics and sustainability. While some roasters may start out with the resources to forge farm relationships themselves, building a long-term partnership with the right farms in the right way can be a challenge. Instead of fighting through barriers—and the uphill battle that building relationships can be across vastly different coffee-growing parts of the world—Genuine Origin offers these roasters a shortcut to purchasing coffee that’s not only top quality, but has already been incorporated into a sustainable supply chain.

“Most people I have found still don’t have any idea where coffee comes from, and they want kind of a simple answer,” says Teresa von Fuchs, sales and marketing director for Genuine Origin, adding that certifications like Fair Trade don’t always give a complete picture as to a coffee’s provenance. Furthermore, simply the act of purchasing great coffee can be hard on small roasters from a logistical standpoint.

“The market is not set up for small roasters, the market is set up to move a container at a time, six months in advance,” says von Fuchs. “We tried to move some of those obstacles for small roasters.”

To offer this turnkey service to roasters, Genuine Origin decided to headquarter in New York City—a perfect hub for doing coffee business globally as well as locally. Since the company’s startup in September, they’ve begun selling premium green (unroasted) coffee to emerging New-York-based roasters like City of Saints, Nobletree and Variety Coffee.

The Genuine Origin supply chain model is available to roasters across all of Volcafe’s origin countries. Best of all, von Fuchs says, by keeping the focus on quality foremost, their supply chain solution will ensure sustainability whether the coffee roasters who buy from them actually care about it or not.

“Rather than leaving it up to the people who make decisions, either customers or roasters, let’s just make a supply chain as sustainable as possible,” says von Fuchs. We’ll drink to that.