Interesting. What have you imported so far? Do you feel they have been worth the price paid?
I dont know if any of you already know this so forgive me if it is all repetition. It is possible to buy green beans from people like Sweetmarias in the US. The trick is to obtain an import licence from AQIS(Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service). Providing the vendor has your permit number clearly visible on the package it will pass through customs without any fuss. I have bought a couple of parcels recently this way and it was quite hassle free. I am talking of quantities of 5kg of a number of small parcels. It isnt a cheap way to buy beans as the licence costs $100 up front and there is the cost of transport to Australia. The good side is that you can access the fabulous range that Sweetmarias have on offer. Many of the lots they have we would never see over here.
Interesting. What have you imported so far? Do you feel they have been worth the price paid?
Ive tried Yemen mocha ismaili, Yemen mocha mattari, Yirgacheffe and Harar , Costa Rica La Minita(a single estate) Hawaiian Kona Honaunau peaberry, an El Salvador Cof E, Sulawesi Toraja in both normal and decaffeinated beans, an auction lot of Kenya AA and a great Decaf Monsooned Malabar.
Its been worth it from an interest value. Its not unlike looking at individual estate wines. My roasting expertise is still developing and in many cases the best samples were at the end of the batch. I suppose the really honest answer is that the results were variable, with some batches certainly worth the effort eg the Yemenis, Kenya and decafs. Others were interesting but I wouldnt buy them again.
There is a big fun factor involved here.
I am a newbe, but why would you say that these coffees would not be available here? Is it just a better selection from Sweet Marias?
There are a lot of different coffees in the world to choose from.
Some of the ones listed by papalui have been made available through this site, some have not.
Some might not even be imported by the wholesalers that we deal with.
Our admins can only offer 2 or 3 types per month due to the fact that they are basically volunteering their time and each bag sold represents a fair amount of time required to invoice, collect, split up, bag it, tag it and mail it out.
Sweet Marias are a business and therefore would hold a lot more variety in stock.
Personally, I have 10 different types of beans at home presently and 2 more types ordered from the January polls. Thats more than enough variety for me, but others might like the option of trying an OS supplier.
Its always handy if you know that someone has successfully ordered from a site too.
In order to supplement the number of varietal types offered through the Coffee Snobs organisation, you can always try any "local" roaster. They will always have a wide selection of varietal types available because that is their business.
You really only need to sort out whether they are prepared to sell you the green rather than the roasted product.
The down side is that the answer is way too frequently "Go away". Last year having run out of greens to roast in the Coffee Academy classes I popped in to a highly regarded roaster close to the Melb. CBD and explained the situation hoping to buy perhaps a kilo...only to fairly bluntly be told to nick off...
I wonder if his staff remember the guy who teaches coffee each week and who still recommends Cafe X to Academy students....?
you get that :-[
as its uneconomical to go less than 2.5kg to get anything from coffeesnobs you local roaster is worth a try if they tell you to "Sod Off!!" just smile sweetly and NEVER go back for anything, plus informing all your friends of the delightful service.
If you are in Melb, Cottles Tea and Coffee on Covantry st in South Melb. just round the corner from the market.
I think its David, the roaster guy ;) He is very helpful. But be nice if you are asking him for advice buy something from him. They have a good range of greens and are more than happy to sell them. Last time I brought some it was $12/kg for Sumatran Mandheling.
Another advantage in getting it from your local roaster is you get it straight away, you can buy 500g and you are helping your local economy. (Which is important).
Its no longer a problem Rich- because I do my buying here *;D It was just one of those days where we ran out and a few hundred grams would have got me out of a fix....
Some roasters charge ridiculous prices for green beans. The last lot of green beans I bought from a roaster worked out to around $27 for a kilo of roasted beans (accounting for 15% loss of weight during roasting process).
That is a massive profit margin and I cant see any substantiation for that compared to the markups in coffee hardware. Its not like my green beans require servicing. It is nothing more than exploitation of a limited market.
It is for that exact reason that I hunted down and joined this coop.
This seems to be very shortsighted because if the prices were more reasonable it would be great way for home roasters to access a broader variety of beans that may be out of reach of this coop.
Long live the coop!
I agree that it is worth building up a relationship with a local supplier. I have bought a small amount of green beans from two local suppliers. I had previously bought some roasted coffee from them so that I was known to them as a customer. One lot was a delightfully aromatic coffee from the island of Molokai. It was wrongly listed as Hawaiian Kona but was delicious neverthe less.
I think if you can make yourself known as real lover of coffee most suppliers would be happy to sell some green beans
Hi Andy,Originally Posted by fatboy link=1106733706/0#4 date=1106803780
A couple of sites that will supply green beans at reasonable cost and offer excellent service from a retail perspective, is:
* The Coffee Company in Melbourne, and
* Arabicas Coffee up in North Qld inland from Cairns.
Both can be found on the web via their business names. In the case of Arabicas though, you will need to contact the owner prior to placing any orders so that they are aware that you want Green Beans and NOT Roasted.
Ive had excellent coffee from both suppliers and in Arabicas case, they charge $12.00/Kg regardless of variety. I live in a rural area in SE Qld, about 1,800 Kms from Cairns and typically receive beans two days after placing the order. If CoffeSnobs didnt exist, I would probably get the vast majority of my requirements from them.
Anyway, never hurts to have a few alternative suppliers up your sleeve.
Some might say that if you buy greens from a roaster business, then it is quite fair for him/her to charge the retail price of roasted coffee, less the appropriate margin to account for the loss in roasting, for the greens....
Once the greens have been "absorbed" (purchased and stocked) into the business, all the appropriate "on costs" of running that business apply.
Coffee Snobs runs as a "non profit" coop I believe, so the price charged to members is not a true reflection of the market value of greens purchased at retail in the real world.
A packet of "image based" imported supermarket brand, vacuum sealed roasted stale robusta, when multiplied out to a kilo price, works out to somewhere around $32.00 in my area (or around $8.00 per 250g).
I reckon that makes a kilo of current crop high grown gourmet quality arabica greens, that work out to $27.00 after loss in roasting, that you can then brew into about 100 ish separate cups of really good wet coffee at home, as opposed to paying $3.00 per cup for mediocre cafe coffee, an absolute bargain!
All depends on how you look at it.
Here in Newcastle there are 3 roasters that I know of. Ive approached 2 of them and so far, other than being surprised someone is roasting beans at home, they have both been very helpful and charge what I consider to be reasonable prices for green beans. Apparently I was the first person to request green beans from one of the roasters, and as such, a pricing schedule had to be negotiated. It seems sanity prevailed and both roasters settled on a rough average of $10/kg. Price can vary depending on their wholesale price of course, but in general I bring my own bags and buy 2 or 3 kilos every now and then. Both roasters seem happy to make a profit on green beans by simply putting them in a bag for me and I can get beans on short notice. Its a win win situation.
Hello again fellas, here is another insight from left field on the subject of pricing of green beans bought from roasters...just for the collective information base.
Roasters derive an income from selling roasted coffee. The selling prices are geared accordingly. They are entitled to *earn a fair living just like everyone else. As stated above many have never been asked to sell green beans are at first taken aback, and when placed "on the spot", have not thought about the pricing structure to suit their business...
It is at this piont that they sell the greens at really good prices....for you.
It is some time after this point that it dawns on them that the price was not a really good price...for them. If they sell greens at a price lower than the price of roasted coffee adjusted for the loss in roasting, they have *in fact sold the coffee to you at a loss in the scheme of running their overall business.
Another way of looking at it, is that by selling you the greens at a lower price than stated above, they have just done themselves out of the profit to be made from selling you their core roasted coffee product, irrespective of whether you would have bought the roasted or not.
Another way of looking at it is that they have just supported you (at a loss to them in real terms) in the act of competing with them for your roasted coffee buisiness.
So by selling greens they are not encouraging clients to support their core business. The sale of greens is miniscule, everything is geared to turnover, you give a roaster a large turnover in greens, he can adjust the price accordingly...
I dont know anyone in any other industry sector that would sell an extremely low turnover product and make virtually no profit, *to a total stranger, and by virtue of the pricing structure actually help the stranger to compete with them on the end product.
That said, almost any price paid for greens, up to the price of a kilo of expensive roasted coffee, is likely to be cheaper, less hassle and instantly available, when compared to importing direct from o/s.
All depends on how you look at it.
I agree that those in a commercial enterprise need to have a sustainable business but Ill offer the comparison of buying a bag of roasted beans from a cafe.
Noone would buy a kilo of roasted beans for around the same price as 100 cups of espresso. The price difference is there because making an espresso has far more overhead that needs to be recouped than simply passing on raw materials with a reasonable markup.
Based on the dollars mentioned in this thread it seems some roasters are happy to make a more modest profit on green beans and rather than consider this as eating into their normal margins, it is an additional product at a lower margin.I dont know anyone in any other industry sector that would sell an extremely low turnover product, and make virtually no profit, to total strangers.
If you sell an extra kilo of green beans at half the profit of roasted beans isnt it still profit and increased volume? It is for the same reason that you see bags of roasted coffee for sale in cafes. It may allow them to increase the volume shifted by say 5% which might increase their buying discounts etc.
Most home roasters wouldnt buy roasted beans so commercial roasters are actually increasing their sales.
With specific regard to pricing.
With the amount of actual green bean turnover that any individual roaster has, realistically it doesnt matter whether the greens are sold or not as they are not really an addition to turnover or sales at all. Roasters sell roasted product, green bean brokers sell greens.
The whole thing is self-limiting. Without some reasonable turnover in greens, its not worth the roasters time to offer them for sale at a low enough price that will be perceived to be fair by the extremely small number of clients that are interested. I can understand the frustration, but to sell a couple of kilos of green beans per month for amost nothing does not really rate.
By the same token, if small groups of interested people in any particular local area were to approach a roaster with a view to opening up a line of communication, showing that they are academically interested in coffee and pose no threat to the roaster, and that they might be able to “work” in cooperation with each other in all things coffee (kind of like being a local interest group), gaining the confidence of the roaster, they may find that the initial reaction from the roaster changes markedly to one of a spirit of cooperation.
Too often in this day and age, people try and communicate with each other by email instead of making an appointment and going out to meet people directly, where they may find the reaction to be totally different to what they might get from a cold, impersonal, anonymous approach by email to the effect of, "will you sell me some green beans".
Get a group of interested people together, make a considered personal approach, and the situation might change, particularly where the roaster perceives there will be add on benefits for instance from the sale of equipment, tech sessions, word of mouth recommendations etc
Many would like to think it’s a two way street.
Otherwise with specific regard to roasters being a good source of a wide range of origins, yup some sure are. *
Just another couple of thoughts in a largely academic discussion.
I wouldnt mind making a profit of anywhere between 50 and 80 percent on a product that requires minimal storage facilities, little packaging (I bring my own bags) and can be stored for couple of years without discernable depreciation in quality. Whereas roasted coffee has to be well... roasted. Requiring substantial investment in a roaster, a premises, appropriate storage, display, and packaging. Not to mention the time and beans taken to develop blends along with the cost of running the roaster, and what about beans that arent sold within an accepted timeframe.
As Wired pointed out, for the most part I no longer buy roasted beans and as such, would not be spending any money with a local roaster. Now I contribute in a small way to their bottom line and the money stays in the local economy. Like I said win win situation