Reshaping the East African Supply Chain

Coffee producers have faced the harsh realities of disordered supply chains as long as coffee has been traded. Sparrows makes it a priority to partner with coffee importers, cooperatives, and farmer organizations who challenge the status quo of supply chain imbalances that rarely favor the farmer. 

Since we began our green coffee buying program, we’ve worked with Trabocca Coffee Importers to source coffee from Colombia to Ethiopia. We value their commitment to supporting livable wages for farmers, and helping coffee roasters to establish long-term relationships with coffee-farming communities. Trabocca recently invested extensive time, research, and resources into supply chain inequity in Kenya’s Nyeri region -- from where we source our Kenya Thiriku AB.

Trabocca’s work with the Ndaroini coffee producer group that grows this coffee shows their commitment to coffee farming communities, and represents a larger rethinking of coffee’s supply chain in East Africa. After noticing a drop in quantity and quality of available Kenyan coffees, Trabocca began to research smallholder farmers in Kenya and were able to attribute the decline to low and late payments for coffee, and the imbalance structure of the supply chain model. 

In many countries, small-scale farmers typically sell their coffee to a cooperative who then brings it to a processing facility. From there, the coffee makes its way through a dry mill, marketing agent, exporter, and importer. The problem in Kenya: all parts of this supply chain are owned by the same multinational company, leaving a producer group like Ndaroini with no influence, negotiation power, or opportunities for a liveable income. 

In 2018, Trabocca partnered with Ndaroini to help establish the producer group as its own business who could sell directly to Trabocca and bypass most steps of the existing supply chain model. Now, the Ndaroini farmers receive higher prices for their coffee and have more hope for their future in coffee. 

Trabocca has also supported the redevelopment of aspects of Ethiopia’s coffee trade through their investments in pioneers like Getachew Zeleke. Zeleke’s vision for coffee and his Dimtu Farm – where we purchase Dimtu Tero from – is built on inclusive growth. Zeleke says “I want to be one of the leading coffee producers, processors, and exporters in the country that customers trust on quality, traceability, and sustainability.” Dimtu farmers receive support with farm input like seedings, consistently premium prices for their coffees, and organic certification at no cost to them. 

We’re proud to work with an organization like Trabocca, whose work to strengthen coffee supply chains is helping to grow the coffee industry’s resilience. You can pick up either of these incredible coffees from our webstore today.