ECW: What’s risk got to do with it?
Once a year, we convene all our Direct Trade partners from around the world — more than 50 growers and representatives of farmer associations, washing stations and exporters from 15 countries on four continents — for a week of farm visits, cupping sessions, presentations, meetings, shared meals (and sometimes spontaneous dance parties) that we call the Extraordinary Coffee Workshop.
The ECW program is carefully designed to deliver actionable insights to participants through a variety of formats on a broad array of issues, including agronomy, post-harvest processing, innovations in coffee science and technology, market trends and more. The event is held in a different country every year, celebrating the coffee culture of the host country and exploring unique local practices that might be effectively applied in other countries and contexts.
Perhaps as valuable as the formal program of the event is the unstructured interaction between the diverse and award-winning participants. Participants in the 2017 ECW event had collectively won honors at the Cup of Excellence, the world’s most rigorous and prestigious coffee quality competition, an astounding 63 times. It is like the All-Star game of coffee, and participants learn from each other as much as they do from us. All of this adds up to a source of real value for our Direct Trade partners. It also represents another important hedge against market and price risk.
A week of exhaustive joint exploration of quality from seed to cup with your entire supply chain amplifies market signals like nothing else you might imagine. And the entire affair is designed to ensure our partners have the knowledge and skills they need to execute on their strategy of quality-based differentiation and succeed in the marketplace.
The first issue of our Ad Lucem magazine is an account of the most recent edition of ECW, held in San Francisco.
ECW 10 is planned for Bolivia in September 2018.
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This post is the sixth in a series of seven posts summarizing our participation in the Sustainable Food Lab 2018 Leadership Summit and exploring the ways our Direct Trade model helps to reduce the risks faced by coffee growers.