Lately, we have been contacted through our website by people who want to open a coffee shop or roast coffee to sell it online and are looking for specialty coffee suppliers. These people call us from various parts of the world and request samples of our coffee.
We tell them that we can gladly send them samples. However, we ask them, “In case you like our product and want to make a purchase, how do you plan to import it?” The answer is usually the same: “We don’t have the faintest idea.”
So, if you are one of these entrepreneurs, asking yourself “How do I import coffee?” this article will help you understand the ways in which you can supply your future business with coffee.
NOTE. The Colombian government has changed the regulations and now growers and exporters are allowed to send up to 60 kg of green coffee and 50 kg of roasted coffee by post on a daily basis. This means that if you want to import 100 kg of green coffee, you can do so in two separate shipments without any exceeding 60 kg.
The safest and most efficient way to make these shipments is to use the services of companies such as DHL or UPS, which offer Express services and can deliver the package anywhere in the world between 4 and 10 days. This option is a bit expensive, but it is undoubtedly the best option to import coffee in small quantities.
But if what you are looking for is to buy large quantities, then keep reading, we will explain the three ways in which you can supply your business.
The first and easiest way is to buy already imported coffee from a distributor or an importer.
The biggest advantage is that the coffee is already in their warehouses and is ready to be delivered to whoever wants to buy it. This modality is known as “on-spot buying.” The order is made and in a matter of days or even hours, you have the coffee at your door.
Another advantage is that if there is any issue with the coffee, you can get a quick response and send it back to be replaced.
As for the disadvantages, when you are buying coffee from importers, you are subject to buying the same coffee that they sell to all their customers. Therefore, if you want to stand out by offering unique and exclusive coffees, you will not have many options.
The second option is to import the coffee directly, but it has several disadvantages, and it is not something that a small business wants to do—even businesses with years in the market avoid taking this route.
To be able to import coffee directly, you must establish yourself as an importer and have all the necessary permits and licenses to carry out this activity in the country you are in. Then you must find a customs agent to take care of the import process once the coffee arrives at its destination. Besides, you might have to pay taxes.
The import process usually takes months from when the producer sends the samples until the product reaches its final destination. On the other hand, there may be logistical problems due to the lack of ships or strikes in the ports.
Importing coffee directly from its producers becomes another parallel activity to your business and consumes a lot of time and energy. Nevertheless, there is a great advantage of importing coffee directly: you can import your desired product from the country of your choice at any time.
The third way is a hybrid between the first and the second. This is undoubtedly the best option for independent roasters and coffee shops that want to offer exclusive and unique coffees, coming from various parts of the world.
This option consists of making use of intermediary companies, which put coffee farmers in direct contact with potential clients in consuming countries through online platforms known as coffee marketplaces. You can do a search on google with the following keywords “green coffee trading platform,” and you will find several of these platforms.
Making use of these platforms offers several advantages that help you to buy coffee easily and safely.
The biggest advantage is that there are a large number of coffee offers from different countries of the world. Since the price of specialty coffee varies, depending on its origin and quality, there are offers for all budgets.
Another positive thing is that these companies will take care of all the logistics and the import process.
As for the disadvantage, just like importing directly, you have to wait several weeks and even months for the delivery, depending on how often the company imports from the producing country.
We recommend working with one or several local importers that can quickly supply the not-so-special coffee and working with online platforms to buy the special ones.
These are some of the platforms on which we usually list our coffees:
For the European market, we work with Algrano.com and Farmlyclub.com; for the Chinese market, coffee.exchange and FreshFarmer.com.
Well, now you know how you can supply your business with coffee. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help.