We have closed the books on 2017. It was, in our estimation, a very good year for our sourcing program.
This issue of Axioma, the curated data set that tells the story of Intelligentsia Direct Trade in numbers, shows where we went in 2017. Literally.
Our seven-strong sourcing team took 19 trips to 14 countries in 2017 and logged nearly a quarter-million miles visiting dozens of our Direct Trade partners to plan for coming seasons, taste current harvests and celebrate past ones. Our Quality Control team backed all that field work with a feverish year in the lab, where they cupped thousands of lots during hundreds of sessions. The results of all that work were embodied in the 51 single-origin lots we released in 2017, including three winning Cup of Excellence lots from growers who are part of our Direct Trade network.
We also convened our Direct Trade partners from around the world for the ninth straight year when we brought them to San Francisco in September for our Extraordinary Coffee Workshop, where more than three-quarters of a millennium of coffee experience was brought to bear on the four-day event that has become the highlight of our year in sourcing.
The story our 2017 Year-in-Review Axioma tells is a compelling one, but what it does not say is where we are going. While there is no certainty about what 2018 will bring, we are preparing for an exciting year.
We believe that the best growers are renovating their farms constantly, and the best buyers should be no different. In almost every country where we sourced coffee in 2017, we are actively engaged in efforts to renovate our sourcing program by reinvigorating existing relationships, actively building exciting new ones, or both. In 2017, we sourced more than four-fifths of all our coffee from Direct Trade relationships more than five years old and nearly two-fifths from relationships more than 10 years old. As we look forward, we will build on that solid foundation while folding new partners into the mix to diversify our menu and grow our purchases.
We are redoubling our commitment to quality in ways you will see (deeper engagement with the Cup of Excellence in 2018) and ways you won’t (tightening our QC protocols internally) that will position our sourcing program to bring you the kinds of coffees you won’t forget about easily.
We will expand our efforts to measure the impacts of our sourcing program on social inclusion, economic profitability and environmental conservation, even as we invest in projects to drive positive impacts to smallholder growers: we are proud to partner with Root Capital and USAID to bring our ECW model to smallholders Colombia in 2018. Our forthcoming ECWx format will be to our annual ECW event what TEDx is to TED.
All of these efforts will position us to grow in 2018 and help us begin to test the limits of the scalability of Direct Trade with one of the oldest and deepest DT programs in the coffee sector.