Falling out of the SCAA, and Green Coffee in Canada
Posted December 9, 2003 1:05am
The long and winding road... (I just bought the Beatles CD that just came out).
Again, sorry for the long delay between articles here. So much has happened in the last few months, and so much more will go on in the next few weeks, but it's time for an update.
BTW, the photo to the right was one I did as part of a series for illy collector cups for a client - good money too, but I sure enjoyed doing the shoot :) Illy art cups rule, and the Aliens set is one of the best ones ever.
I guess I gotta get this out in public somewhat, since there's still a lot of confusion over events, and many different stories about it.
I'm no longer really involved with the SCAA. A falling out happened, mainly because of terrible communications and a fair bit of misrepresenting going on behind various closed doors. If it was just me vs. the SCAA, I'd probably hack it and stay on board with my volunteer efforts (well, maybe - I was very hurt personally by the process), but it involved my company (WebMotif) and got several people besides myself very upset, so I have to step away from my volunteer efforts, almost totally.
What happened was still something I'd rather not talk publicly about, other than to say the SCAA needs to straighten out how they do business, especially the way they deal with RFPs and communicating with companies that want to work with them. I've told enough people within the organization what the problems are - maybe they'll be sorted out, maybe not. But in my case, nothing's really salvageable. Because of the events, and to keep the peace in my own company, I can no longer do any volunteer work or effort for the organization on company time or money.
In the past year or so, it's been calculated (by my business partner) that WebMotif spent about $11,000 of its money on my volunteer efforts with the SCAA, including billable hours, staff expenditures, server usage, long distance and travel time and money. Because of the way our company was treated by the organization in early September, the decision was made to end this involvement, and I had to agree to it in order to keep WebMotif a happy and healthy company.
But it does mean some good news. All the time I spent in the past as a volunteer with the SCAA is now rededicated towards CoffeeGeek. We were able to plow through and deliver Version 2 of the site more or less on schedule, even though we added a ton of last minute features and additions in October. And I was able to roll out the Holiday Gift List on schedule as well. And more content is due shortly - again, since I have more time available to me, I can spend more time pouring out content and offering more functionality to the site, especially for Industry members.
And I can also get involved in other organizations in Coffee that do good things. One is Coffee Kids - my favourite charity.
In fact, we have a major fund raising drive for Coffee Kids right now over on the Coffee Geek site. It is called, appropriately enough, the Holiday Gift List Fund Drive for Coffee Kids. For every dollar donated by people through our fund drive, we'll be matching it, and so far, five corporate sponsors are also matching the funds (up to fixed amounts). My goal is to raise at least $10,000 for the organization this year through these efforts. We've got a ways to go - as of last week, total donations were about $400 or so by visitors to the website, but I hope this ramps up big time soon! :)
As mentioned, the Holiday Gift List is going strong over at CoffeeGeek. This year we've added some features. There's a gift list system in place - you can place the items you want most into your own gift list, and then mail out links to the page to your friends and family. This year (hopefully), Aunt Glenda won't buy you that six pack of powdered, ground coffee from Costco - she'll have a gander at your wish list, and see you want a set of Rosenquist Illy Collector Mugs. :)
And along with our Holiday Gift list, we have a major contest going on with around $3,000 worth of prizes! The top prize is a YEAR's worth of coffee delivered to your door - and not just any coffee - it's a pound of Black Cat Espresso every week for 52 weeks from Intelligentsia. That was a rockin' cool gift. It came about in a rather cool way as well. I called up Intelligentsia to speak to Doug Zell about coming on board as a corporate sponsor in the Fund Raiser. He agreed to come in at the $500 level, and said "do you need some prizes or something?" I said, sure, whatcha got, thinking he'd pony up some cups or a 5lb sampler or something. "How about coffee for a year? 1lb a week?"
(sound of jaw dropping and hitting the floor).
Very cool. :)
Green coffee in Canada.
Finally, a few things are taking off in Canada with regards to green coffee supplies; especially good news for fair trade coffees, or SUPER coffee deals from an independent.
The first is Birds and Beans coffee. I found them because they just started advertising on CoffeeGeek (no, I'm not mentioning them here because of that - but it is true that I have not heard of this company before they signed up as an advertising partner). I think this is going to be my new source for Fair Trade green coffee - their single pound prices okay (not great), but the five pound prices are pretty good - average of about $7 a pound or less, in Canadian dollars. Compared to US sources of green Fair Trade coffee, it's downright cheap once you factor in shipping costs.
Another website is Terra Cafe out of Montreal, and they have a heckuva lot of green coffee available (recommended by someone in the CoffeeGeek forums). Their site's a bit confusing - all the weights and prices you see are for roasted, but the math is simple - the order weight is automatically doubled if you order green.
Ordering small amounts doesn't give a great price - one example is the Yemen Mocha Matari. Ordering 225g will give you 500g of green (just over one pound) for $11.75, which is a bit high. But ordering 1kilo will give you TWO kilos of green (roughly 4.4.lbs) for $43.50 Cdn. That's much better - just under $10 a lb green. Compared to many US prices these days for Yemen Mocha (I've seen some of the fave sites having it for as much as US$8 a pound, or US$37 for 5 lbs... you see the price is pretty good at Terra Cafe.
And here's the best one! A regular CoffeeGeek member, Craig Andrews, has recently gotten into a "hobbyist" green coffee merchant role. It's very much Craig working out of his home, but his prices are awesome.
Craig's pricing is simple - all the coffees he lists are $5 a lb green, with a few premiums (Kona at $10 a lb, Cuban at $6 a lb). . Keep in mind these are Canadian prices (and he only ships within Canada for now).
I've been waiting for Craig to get in a decent Yemen Mocha before I place an order myself - but that shouldn’t stop you - he's got everything from Sumatra Mandelhing, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopian Sidamo and others.
I like that Canadians are getting a choice now of GOOD prices.