Welcome to our very first blog post about Elixir! For those of you who are visiting our website for the very first time, welcome and allow me introduce myself. My name is Lee Safar, the creator of Elixir and the founder of Elixir Specialty Coffee. I'm deeply passionate about this beverage, our Elixir Dealers, our Elixir Drinkers and the entire coffee supply chain and industry . You can find out more about my passion and work in the coffee supply chain and industry here.
Elixir is a very unique beverage. Delicately complex, refreshing and delightfully challenging to the brain as it tries to understand what’s happening on the palate with every mouthful of Elixir. We want to honor all the uniqueness of this beverage by paying as much attention to the origins of the ingredients that go into Elixir as we do to the presentation, branding and brewing of this mystical brew of ours.
That’s why this month (and moving forward) we’re adding another layer to the depth of our business by introducing a line of Elixir where we’ve sourced the green coffee directly from the farmer and then had it roasted for us, rather than having the coffee roaster source and roast the coffee for us.
Why is this important and why are we using our first blog post ever to talk to you about this? That’s a great question. The short answer is transparency!
When people buy roasted coffee in the store or from their local cafe, they’ve paid little to no attention to the person who has built a business in a far away land growing that coffee, or the hands that touched the plants that coffee came from, or the dozens of people involved in picking and processing that coffee and nurtured it to the seed stage (we often call it a bean but it’s a seed) that then gets exported around the world for usually more affluent communities to roast, brew and enjoy.
It’s important for us to remember that this amazing seed that we all brew (no matter what our preferred brew method is) is an agricultural product and is grown on farm. Far far too often, the coffee farmer isn’t being fairly compensated for this agricultural product they’re growing and selling to us.
At Elixir, we’ve always been very focused on only partnering with coffee roasters that have the highest standards of integrity when it comes to their coffee buying practices and we’re proud to be associated with the roasters we work with - Merit Coffee, Steady State Roasting and Copa Vida who also sell Elixir in their stores.
There are a few terms we use in the industry to describe this practice of buying coffee directly from a coffee farmer. My preferred terminology for it is “relationship buying”. This practices is where a relationship is established between the purchaser of the coffee (usually the roaster) and the farmer, a contract/agreement is made for the amount of coffee to be purchased, the price and the terms of payment. Often times as relationships develop, agreements are made to purchase crops over a number of harvests. This is the ultimate goal for relationship buying.
There are some AWFUL practices out there in the coffee world when it comes to buying and paying for green coffee and we refuse to be a part of those practices.
Creating this new offering of Elixir means that we’ll be able to raise awareness of why you should be questioning the coffee sourcing practices of the coffee brands you’re buying from. When farmers don’t get paid fairly this means that horrible practices like slavery and sex trafficking become attractive ways to compensate for lost revenue to make coffee farming more affordable. We REFUSE to be complicit in those practices and know you do too!
Alternatively, some farmers cut down their trees and plant other, more profitable crops. If this practice keeps growing coffee will become a more expensive luxury item in the future as supply becomes more limited.
How do you make sure the coffee you’re drinking isn’t contributing to shitty supply chain practices? We recommend you ask your coffee roasting brands and the cafes that make your coffee this question: “What is your buying philosophy?”.
If they can’t tell you, they probably have no idea if the coffee they’re serving you or selling to you has been purchased at a fair price. If they can tell you and are happy to share the price they paid for that green coffee, you’re onto a brand you can trust. If they paid anything below about $2.80 per lb (USD) then I’d suggest staying clear of that brand.
Cheap coffees are usually that way because the farmer isn’t getting paid enough to invest the money needed to grow good coffee. Also consider this, you may be paying anywhere from $8-$25 for a bag of roasted coffee and unless you know how much the farmer was paid (we call this the “farm-gate price”) it’s possible that all that coffee was purchased for the C-market price which, at the time of writing this post is at $0.91 per pound (NOT GOOD)!
For some perspective, the coffee we’re featuring this month as Elixir is a coffee from Organic Brazilian Coffee farmer Silvia Barretto who owns Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza Coffees (FAFCoffees). We paid $5 per lb for this green coffee and another $2.10 per pound to have it roasted for us by Elliot Reinecke of Steady State Roasting in Carlsbad, CA. If we were buying this coffee roasted at wholesale we would normally pay someone around $15 per lb plus shipping. Remember, that’s wholesale. You’d pay even more if you were buying this roasted coffee at retail prices. Now ask yourself, “that bag of coffee I paid $8 for, how much did they buy that green coffee for?”. See where I’m going with this!?
The most expensive part of Elixir is the packaging and labor so while we wont save an astronomical amount on the final product by going direct to the farmer, whatever we have saved we’re passing onto you, our beloved Elixir drinkers!
You’ll notice that Elixir Trio’s, usually $24, are $20 for this offering. You’ll save even more when purchasing our 10-pack and 24-pack. Simply select this delicious coffee from “Farmer: Silvia Barretto” in the dropdown menu via our online retail store.
Below is a video of our first Youtube Live steam where I chatted about this coffee and did our first streamed tasting of Elixir. We don’t like to tell you what you should be tasting in Elixir because taste is subjective and no-one should be telling you what you should be tasting in anything. Despite that, this was a special occasion so I broke the rules and man was it fun to do it just this once!
We’ll be back at the end of each month with another live stream chatting about what we’ve got going on, telling more stories around Elixir and answering any questions you might have. For our next live video, I’m going to tell you our Elixir genesis story and how Elixir was created through a happy accident! It’s a great story and I hope you’ll subscribe to our new Youtube channel to get alerted to when we’re going live!
Thank you for all the support you show our business! If you’ve ever had your own business or been involved in starting one you know how deeply satisfying and challenging building one is. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted. Your support and your love for what we’re doing means the world and we can’t thank you enough!
Looking forward to coming to you again next month and sharing more of this journey with you!
Ship Steerer at Elixir Specialty Coffee