Cost of Coffee: A Q&A with Joe Molloy, Director at Rumble Coffee

December 19, 2023 in Australia

Here at La Marzocco, we like to pride ourselves on producing premium handmade espresso machines. However, these machines are nothing without an appreciation and understanding of the coffee which runs through them.

So we wanted to dig deeper into what it takes to produce a quality coffee and what the cost of that quality truly is, at the grower and roaster level.

Speaking with Joe Molloy, Director at Rumble Coffee, – who runs a local Melbourne roaster and  values transparency and sustainability in the coffee chain – we met to discuss what it takes to make a quality cup of coffee each and every day and how you can play a part in contributing to a fair system for all involved.

 

 

Could you tell us about your brand’s approach to specialty and ensuring transparency in their supply chain?

At Rumble Coffee Roasters, we believe that the key to a great cup of coffee lies in the quality of the beans and the relationships with the people who grow them. This commitment to quality is the cornerstone of our approach to specialty coffee.

We’ve built strong, direct relationships with our coffee farmers and producers.

This allows us to pay above fair trade prices directly to the farmers, to try to compensate them fairly for their hard work and dedication.

Ensuring transparency in our supply chain is also critical to us.

We visit as many farms we source our beans from as we can to see firsthand the conditions of the workers and the farming practices. We’ve now been buying from some of the same growers for six or seven years.

Our customers know that every cup of Rumble Coffee not only tastes great but also supports a transparent and ethical supply chain.

 

Could you give us some insight into the key economic pressures you’re facing in the bean to cup process and how this is impacting the quality of your coffee?

The journey from bean to cup is always under many economic pressures, and these have significant impacts on the quality of the coffee we offer.

The cost of green coffee beans is subject to global commodity markets, and this is often the largest economic pressure we face. Recently, the price of coffee on the global market has fluctuated with rainfall and frosts in Brazil, geopolitical events in Europe and supply chain disruptions since COVID.

Climate change is a significant concern. Changing weather patterns can lead to lower yield or even total crop loss. As the areas suitable for coffee production shrink, competition for high-quality beans intensifies.

There are also significant costs associated with the roasting and packaging process. Energy costs, in particular, have been rising, and this impacts the cost of roasting. Packaging materials have also been increasing in cost because of various global supply chain issues.

Despite these pressures, we’re committed to not letting them impact the quality of our coffee. We’re always looking for ways to optimize our operations and improve efficiency. But ‌we believe that the quality of our coffee sets us apart, and we’re not willing to compromise on that.

We will keep buying great quality coffee knowing that plenty of discerning coffee lovers are happy to pay what the coffee is worth.

 

 

What does quality mean to your brand?

Quality, to us at Rumble Coffee Roasters, is everything. It goes beyond just the taste of the coffee, to every aspect of our business.

To start, quality means sourcing the best coffee beans. We only buy coffee we love to drink and we think that comes through in the final cup.

Quality also means crafting the perfect roast. Our experienced roasters take their time to develop roast profiles that highlight the unique characteristics of each coffee. We believe in the art and science of coffee roasting, using the latest technology combined with the human touch, to ensure that each batch is roasted to its full potential.

Quality is also about transparency and sustainability. We believe in maintaining a transparent supply chain where we can trace the journey of our coffee from bean to cup. This not only ensures the quality of our product, but also allows us to support sustainable and ethical farming practices.

Ultimately, quality to us is about offering an exceptional coffee experience.

 

Could you share some of the initiatives or actions you are taking to ensure the sustainability and transparency of your bean to cup process is above industry standards?

Our big initiative is the Transparency Project, that started in 2019, where we publish and share the price we pay for all our coffee. We realized the word ‘specialty’ was no longer enough and could be used as a smokescreen for a lot of less than ideal buying practices. But by being transparent with our pricing, we can share what we pay for coffee and hopefully increase the share of that price that goes back to the growing origin.

We share our purchasing information with an International Body called Transparent Trade who are based out of Emory University in the USA. They publish a Specialty Transaction Guide each year that hopes to differentiate specialty coffee away from the commodity benchmark or ‘C’ price.

Coffee has come so far in the last decade but little of those gains have gone to coffee growers. If we want to keep drinking delicious coffee we are going to have to pay for it.

 

 

There’s no doubt that consumers love purchasing your coffee due to taste and quality. Could you shed some insight into the power of the consumer’s spend beyond their cup of coffee?

Absolutely, every purchase made by a consumer extends far beyond their cup of coffee.

When you buy Rumble coffee, you’re not just getting a delicious drink, you’re supporting an entire chain of people and processes committed to quality and sustainability.

Each purchase support coffee farmers. By dealing directly with farmers and paying above fair trade prices, we ensure a more sustainable income for them and their families. This helps to improve their quality of life and can support their local communities in various ways, such as through better education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

Purchasing our coffee also supports sustainable farming practices. The premium we pay for our coffee encourages and enables farmers to use environmentally friendly farming methods. This can help to preserve biodiversity, protect local ecosystems, and combat climate change.

A consumer’s spend helps to maintain jobs both at origin and here at home. This includes everyone from the workers who harvest the coffee to the roasters who prepare it, right through to the baristas who serve it. One of the upsides of our lockdowns here in Melbourne was that people came to really appreciate that the cafes they went to each day were small businesses run by real people. By paying good money for good coffee you are supporting all those humans that were involved along the way.

Lastly, by supporting a company committed to transparency and ethical practices, consumers send a powerful message about the kind of business practices they want to support. This can influence other companies to follow suit and can help to raise industry standards as a whole.

Therefore, every dollar spent on a bag of Rumble coffee has a big impact. It’s a simple and delicious way to support a better, more sustainable coffee industry and all you need to do is drink better coffee.

 

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