Fellow cofffee-connoiseurs, brew buddies and espresso epicureans,
We’ve dedicated this month to origin trips - remembering the old and embarking on the new, sharing each moment with you as we go along. But in our “dedication” we realized...we’ve never stopped to share the WHY behind origin trips. Perhaps you already know why! Or maybe you didn’t stop to ask why since it seems like it’s just “what cafes do.” But we never want “just because” to be a sufficient answer - we want to be open and transparent with you, the reader and consumer, because there’s no reason not to be! So we tapped into the mind of CREMA’s co-founder Rachel, to be able to share more thoroughly our purpose behind origin trips.
Q: Let’s really bring it back to the basics - for those just tuning in for the first time, or for folks who choose not to engage with context clues, why don’t you tell us in your own words what an origin trip actually is?
A: An Origin trip is a journey back to the fundamental places where our coffee comes from. It teaches us about the green coffee we serve, its cultivation, processing and cultural challenges.
Q: International travel isn’t necessarily inexpensive - why invest funds in origin trips instead of some other avenue for CREMA?
A: We are looking for something special and we want to find consistency year by year. Our relationship coffees are the backbone of our menu so we find it valuable to maintain them. Plus, it’s just plain fun! We get to visit amazing places and connect with people who are passionate about sharing with us what they’re doing.
Our reason & purpose for doing it is for perspective. It gives us a window into the lives of the people we buy coffee from, whether that’s agricultural or processing. Also to continue ongoing relationships with people we have relationships with if we can (based on proximity and accessibility). It all comes back to PERSPECTIVE for me because it changes how we do our job. It connects us to the product and the people.
Q: CREMA has a tradition of sending baristas to origin - what is it that you hope for them to get out of the experience?
A: We want every person on our team to have a lifelong perspective, a positive impression of what they did with their time at CREMA. It changes people’s ideas of what they do day in and day out. They value their job more and the product they serve. My goal is that they remember that and take it with them. It’s a reward, too, for their investment in the company of their time, skills, energy & passion! An origin trip isn’t something most Baristas get to do, so we see it as an amazing opportunity to share with Baristas a bigger picture of what they do here.
Q: What impact would it make on your sourcing if you didn’t make yearly origin trips?
A: The biggest impact would be that we would miss out on feeling connected to a place and a specific community of people. Quality is important, but sometimes crop numbers are down or rust affects crops and it gives us a chance to touch base with our producers in a genuine way. It changes our priorities to being about people and places, not so much just the quality. Logistically, it keeps the price consistent for us, which makes a major difference year in and year out. You also get a higher tier in access to special lots. Wilford (Elida Estate, Panama) sells out of all his Geishas each year, but buyers that make the trip to him get first pick. We’d miss out on special opportunities like that in our sourcing of rare coffees and that would certainly be unfortunate, both for us and for the CREMA customer.
Our hope is that we have illuminated for you why CREMA chooses to integrate yearly origin trips into our priorities. So what now? For CREMA, Rachel says she hopes to see travels to Kenya or Ethiopia in their near future. For you, read more about past origin trips or join our team and go on an origin trip yourself!