Context Matters with Junior's Roasted Coffee

Context Matters with Junior's Roasted Coffee

Coffee is in crisis, and one of the big problems is that some farmers aren't paid enough to cover their production costs. A new template from the team at Junior's Roasted Coffee looks to change that.

Today I’m chatting with Mike and Caryn Nelson, co-owners of Junior's Roasted Coffee and Guilder Cafe in Portland, Oregon. I met Mike and Caryn back when we all lived in New York nearly 10 years ago—Mike used to teach barista classes and I would help lead small breakout sessions. Now, the duo owns a roasting business and a few retail spaces, including a cafe inside the famous Portland bookstore, Powell’s Books.

All of that seems like it would be more than enough to keep them busy, but over the last few years, Mike and Caryn have also been working on an idea called The Cost of Production Covered, a multifaceted project that aims to quantify exactly how much money it costs a farmer to produce one pound of green coffee.

Sounds easy enough, right? Unfortunately, data on how much it costs to produce coffee is often lacking, and coffee is regularly sold without regard to the costs and labor required to produce it. Instead, other metrics are used to determine pricing. Like the C-market, which is determined by the stock market in New York, or by quality measures: a coffee that “tastes better” often garners more money. But experts looking at the coffee industry have known that coffee is in crisis, and that many farmers aren’t making enough money to cover their production costs—and yet, there have been very few initiatives to try to figure out exactly what those costs are and how coffee buyers can pay for coffee so that farmers are actually making sustainable wages.

Mike and Caryn have been working on this project for years—you might even remember a 2019 episode where we recorded a Cost of Production Covered event. Now, they’re joining the show to talk about a new template they’ve released that helps coffee buyers and producers work together to determine production costs. The template is open-source, meaning anyone can use it, and their goal is for more coffee actors to use this data. It’s one thing to say you’re paying “high prices” for coffee, but that claim falls flat without context, and a so-called “high price” doesn’t matter if it’s not covering the cost of production.

A quick note: I edited this episode within an inch of its life. It downloaded strangely, and some of Mike’s audio got weirdly clipped, so I apologize if he sounds funny, or if I sound funny. This is also a great episode to enjoy via the transcript below, since we link to the Cost of Production Covered template and have screenshots and visual assets to share. However you prefer to engage, here are Mike and Caryn Nelson:

Ashley: I'm thrilled to have the two people that I have on the show, and I was wondering if you could start by introducing yourselves.

Mike: My name is Mike Nelson. I am co-owner of Junior's Roasted Coffee and Guilder Cafe in Portland, Oregon.

Caryn: Hi Ashley, I'm Caryn Nelson and along with Mike, I'm the co-owner of Junior's Roasted Coffee and Guilder Cafe.

Ashley: I'm really thrilled to have you both on the show, both because you have been doing incredible work with your roastery and some of the projects that you've been working on. But also because I've known the two of you, I realized, for almost 10 years—which is wild.

But let's go even further back than, before when I knew you folks: Did either of you grow up with coffee in your life?

Mike: I grew up in Utah where you couldn't drink coffee. I grew up with coffee as this mystery, but my parents would give me coffee ice cream secretly. So that was my exposure to coffee. When my family moved to Oregon I just instantly started drinking coffee elsewhere and thought that barista culture was the coolest thing in the world.

Ashley: What about you, Caryn?

Caryn: For me, I think my earliest memory is watching my grandparents make and drink instant coffee. And it was always with a cigarette and always in formal china because they were drinking it after dinner.

Ashley: So you folks own a few cafes in the Portland area. You have a micro-roastery and you have recently launched—I don't even want to say that you launched this project, because you've been working on this project for so many years—but you launched a template called the Cost of Production Covered, which helps people across the supply stream figure out how much does it actually cost to produce coffee.

We have a lot of context I want to talk about: I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about how this project began for you, and we'll talk a little bit too about what “cost of production” means, and all these nuanced little pieces of the supply stream that might seem obvious but actually have a lot of depth and nuance that we need to uncover.

Mike: Yeah, the project for us started in Tallahassee, Florida. I was in a doctoral program at Florida State University and I was going to be looking at what climate change and coffee disease were doing to coffee production in Costa Rica. But I needed data.

I was introduced to Chad Trewick, who, at the time and currently, focuses on production costs for producers. I was put in touch with Chad, we had a chance to talk, and I realized that this could be the metric for my research—looking at what climate change and coffee leaf rust were doing to producers’ cost of production.

Long story short: I mastered out of that project so we could move back to Portland and grow Junior’s. I didn't wanna lose all of that research, so I thought that we could have it be our principles for green coffee buying, serve as our foundation—cost of production, that is.

So we look at what it costs a producer to produce a single pound of green coffee and have that be the quote unquote “minimum price,” contract price in our purchase.

Ashley: Yeah, I'm glad that you defined what cost of production means, because it's a phrase that I think we throw around in the coffee industry because we talk to each other and we have a same base understanding. But I wanna go back to that moment when you realized that this was a metric that maybe wasn't as easy to find, or maybe could be a metric for your research.

What did it mean for you to come up realize that, “Oh, this is maybe a metric that's very poorly understood”?

Mike: Yeah it is still misunderstood, and I think that when I started looking for data in grad school, I couldn't find any anywhere. I would occasionally run into countrywide reports, huge aggregations of large farm data. That was it. And it was pretty scarce.

So I knew that if I was going to keep doing research on this, that it was gonna be a long road ahead and it was gonna have to be all of our own research.

Ashley: So basically what you were saying is that you were trying to find more information about how much it actually cost farmers to produce coffee.

And basically that data was few and far between.

Mike: Oh, definitely. Yeah. Roasters and green buyers weren't really, weren't talking about it much. And that's not to discredit anyone that had—it's not like I know everyone in the industry. It’s just really tough to find.

I've been working in the coffee industry since 2004, and worked for companies that focused on quality-based metrics mostly—basing coffee prices on how good a coffee tastes, how high it scores, plus other Specialty Coffee Association specifications. But that's where I was coming from—and this seemed tangible and it seemed objective.

Ashley: Right, right. That's a good point.

So I wanna go backwards on what you just said about quality being pretty much one of the standard metrics specifically in specialty coffee—you see that talked about everywhere, about how specialty coffee almost differentiates itself based on quality, and then that idea of quality—this coffee is better than this one—being used as a way to quantify what that coffee is worth.

What I think is really cool about this Cost of Production project that you folks have been working on for so many years is that you say things really plainly: A coffee that scores an 84—coffee is scored between 0 and 100—a coffee that scores an 84 took just as much labor to produce as a coffee that scores an 86, an 87, an 88, an 89, and it seems like the labor that it actually takes to produce coffee wasn't being considered at all.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I think too that, if we're using those quality-based metrics alone, we've worked with the farm for X number of years and we know them so well, we buy their coffee through the good years and the bad years. It always scores an 86 and above. So we pay this price, which is, in air quotes, “high.”

But what if that farm all along had been selling at a loss or just breaking even? What if their cost of production was high? What we're experiencing from time to time is that, like you said, that lower-scoring coffees—even 80, oh geez, 82, 83—sometimes in those cases, their production costs can be higher than an 86.

It's a very uncomfortable conversation to have because roasters who have been talking about these relationships and how much we value them have to, at least in this case, we're saying folks should take a good look at those relationships and think about how we have these values-based conversations with our customers.

Ashley: Yeah, I wanna talk a little bit about that idea of relationships, because I think along with quality, that's one of the central tenets of specialty coffee: You pick up any bag of coffee, and there’s something about the relationship that we have with the producer, the way that we work with X, Y, Z farms.

And these are good things—don't get me wrong, building relationships is really important—but what does that actually mean to build a relationship as opposed to using the word “relationship”?

Not to say that roasters are using this incorrectly or whatever. I don't wanna put anybody on blast by any means, but really digging into that word: What does it mean to build a relationship? What does it mean to actually work with a farmer long-term and say we're sourcing this coffee in a way that's sustainable and realistic and actually works for you, as opposed to it being a one-way relationship where I'm sourcing this coffee from you, and it's great and I get to tell your story, but I'm not actually ensuring that the other part of the relationship—where I am actually taking care of you—is happening.

Mike: Yeah, that's it. Exactly.

I think it started making the most sense to us when we opened the cafe, to be honest. In 2017, the first cafe, we were roasting coffee for a couple years before that, but with the cafe really got a sense of what it's like to run a business—and for us, I think that the connection was really made once we started thinking of farms as businesses too, right?

Thinking of farms as vendors—if we knew that our dear friend Sam, who provides us with his chai, if he was operating at a loss because of the price that he was receiving, wouldn't we want to have a conversation with Sam? Right? It’s the same way with our producer partners.

Ashley: Right. You folks own a business. You folks own a few cafes. You know the cost of your goods. You know that if a latte costs you $4.50 to sell, you know what the cost of goods are to make that thing: The coffee costs this much, the cup costs this much, the rent on our space costs this much.

So you can predict some of those overhead costs, but then when we go backwards on the thing that makes it all essential—coffee—we're saying to producers, “We're gonna pay you based on quality, but we're not actually gonna consider what it costs to produce this thing.” We would never do that in our own businesses.

I think that's a really interesting framework to be like, “These are all businesses, we're all operating businesses too.”

Mike: Yeah. To have it be so arbitrary—it's exploitative. It's really dangerous.

For us, I think that cost of production becomes an objective metric. It is about business.

Ashley: Right. The cost of your cups is an objective metric, the cost of your lids is an objective metric.

Mike: Yeah. In order for business to continue, it has to make a profit.

Ashley: I wanna talk a little bit about how you were able to implement some of these ideas into the cafe at first, because like we said, this has been an ongoing project and it's been something that you folks have done in multiple formats. I remember you folks released a comic book about this topic, you had signage at the cafe—I think the Wi-Fi password for a long time was “ask me about the cost of production.” I don't know if it still is.

You've hosted different talks or events where you bring in producers, you bring in importers, people who will all have a stake in this project. But for you, how did you start implementing it yourself in the cafe?

Caryn: I just wanna make the link back to how the project started from a research perspective. We wanted to have this research be shared with our community and also be created with input from the community. So it was important for us to have a two-prong [approach]: the research happening behind the scenes, and then the marketing or the education campaign with it.

So we wanted to involve people in this project through, like you said, the Wi-Fi password. We did a four-city tour, meeting with other roasteries and baristas talking about the project. We had the comic book and that was a way to engage with art, too, and a really accessible artform for our customers to pick up and read while they're standing in the line to order.

With everything that was going on behind the scenes, we wanted to match it with something that was happening externally with customers and then other people in the coffee community.

Ashley: Yeah, that makes sense. It seems like behind the scenes you were using this as a way to inform the way that you sourced coffee.

Mike: Yeah. Any chance we can get, I mean with the Wi-Fi password, we built in the cost of production into trainings with staff, which admittedly it's a really difficult thing to talk about. It's not as easy as saying, “Well, this is direct trade, which means we pay more or we pay more for coffee,” or, “We buy this coffee every year and we pay a lot,” or fair trade or shade-grown or organic.

It's not very easy to talk about. But it is part of our training curriculum in our cafes. And I think that's actually been something that's very exciting to me, to see how this has changed. I feel that it's an easier elevator pitch, even with the template now, but it's taken years to get there.

We actually put out a survey to our customers at one point too, to ask them what they knew about the project, essentially how familiar they were with it after being exposed to it for a couple of years. We tried all sorts of different things even outside of the comic book. Though I must say that the comic book has been one of the most effective tools at communicating this message.

We had an art show focused on cost of production. We had the C-market price posted on the window. We tried that for a little bit, which also prompted conversations too, but I think that at this point I can say that there are customers who are coming to the shop because they've heard how we source or because they know more about it and believe in it and are excited about it.

Even though they might not be able to explain to their friends, “Well, you see, this is why coffee's in trouble.” They understand that we are actually ensuring that cost to production is not only covered—we're looking at gross margin on those costs too. So they can start to understand the prices that we pay.

Ashley: That's a good point. And going back to something you said about all the jargon that goes around coffee that's a little bit hard to explain, but it's understandable why it's used so often. Things like shade-grown, direct trade, fair trade—those two-word things—it’s a way to try to find products that align with your values, but then to explain the cost of production covered means this, and then this is how this goes. It's hard, it's complicated, and it's not necessarily easy for consumers to digest.

And you folks being really honest about all the different ways that you've tried to approach educating consumers about it in a way that doesn't feel like it's in your face—it's a way to invite and evoke conversation that’s really cool and really powerful.

Mike: Oh, thanks for saying so. I think that, initially with the project, we were very focused on the consumer. Clinging onto this idea of, more air quotes, that this notion of “sustainable consumerism,” the oxymoron that it is, that the consumer has the power to make these choices and decisions.

That's shifted over time. That isn't to say that we aren't putting out the same materials that we were before, but definitely our focus on sharing this project, I think, has shifted to roasters and green buyers.

Ashley: Sure. So with that being said, let's talk a little bit about the actual template that you recently released.

Basically, you made an open-source document where any roaster can download this really simple—I have it actually up on my computer right now—it's a really simple Google document where you ask questions in partnership with the people that you source coffee from.

So in partnership with the farmers or cooperatives that you're sourcing coffee from, you're able to determine what their cost of production is. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the template and what was the idea for making this tool for other roasters to use?

Mike: Yeah, the template idea started at the end of 2019. We started putting together a template to pass off to other roasters.

We didn't want to own this material. We wanted to get this project into as many hands as possible. It's great when someone buys a bag of Cost of Production Covered coffee, but wow, what if we could get roasters to buy containers worth hundreds of bags of Cost of Production Covered coffee? That would have a bigger impact, so we wanted to get this project into the hands of other roasting companies and green coffee buyers.

I spoke at this Roast Magazine event, this Roast Summit, in early 2020 about this upcoming template that we were putting out. And the pandemic definitely slowed things down in terms of the project, and we had to shift all of our focus on the business, because this project—it’s something that we have to do in our spare time.

It's not making us money as a business. This is something that is a passion of ours and ultimately the entire mission of our company. But I started digging back into the template at the end of 2020, realizing that this thing was massive. It’s accompanied by a questionnaire, and then the responses are then plugged into a spreadsheet or a pro forma of sorts. But it was massive. It was hard for us to even use, to be honest.

While it was very granular, very detailed, it was very time-consuming for us and for producer partners and importer partners to use. So we took a few steps back—we wanted to make it very practical for folks. So we pared down the questions, the accompanying questionnaire, to six to eight questions as opposed to 30 to 50 questions.

In the past, there was so much back and forth with this questionnaire. Even though we had all this detail, we still had to clarify things. Emails back and forth, WhatsApp messages back and forth, Skype calls back and forth, and now we can get this information with just a few emails. It's pretty amazing to see how quickly it works now.

Ashley: I mean, the questions are as simple as, “How much coffee do you sell in a harvest year?” “How much coffee do you sell as green coffee in pounds?” Really trying to get to the nitty gritty of how much coffee do you sell and how much labor goes into producing that coffee—and can we get a price per pound that it costs to produce this coffee?

You have some coffees that you've implemented this model with on your website, and I was wondering if you could talk about what that looked like for you folks to implement this system and figure out for you, how much does this coffee cost to produce?

Mike: Yeah, well, before we first launched the project, I think the first coffee we worked with was released in 2018, and that was with Andres Fahsen who owns Pachuj, or at the time was Santo Tomás Pachuj. We're using the questionnaire with Andres and the spreadsheets—the 30-to-50-question questionnaire at first.

We then started the project with another farm in Guatemala called Peña Blanca. We then started another project with a farm in Brazil called Sítio Canaã. Another farm in Guatemala and then a farm in Colombia.

We did this with this massive questionnaire and unruly spreadsheet. We spent a lot of time in that back and forth, and now we're able to see that with this streamlined questionnaire, we can get some of the same data, [and see that] the numbers are actually very similar compared with that bigger spreadsheet, which has been so gratifying and gives me so much hope that this actually works.

The kind of information that we're looking at now, we're still looking at harvest costs. land management costs, and also in this new spreadsheet where we have cells for gross margin as well. So not only looking at that—it's not necessarily a break-even point, but we're not just looking at cost of production. We want to see that people can actually see gross margin on those costs, and we're able to get that with this new spreadsheet.

Ashley: I'm actually looking at one of the coffees that you have on your website right now. It's from Colombia, produced by Jorge Rojas.

From the Junior’s Roasted Coffee website. Link here.

You have these really compelling details about the coffee. Because we talk a lot about how much a producer or how much a roaster pays for a coffee, they could say, “Oh, I pay $3 per pound,” but that doesn't necessarily mean that the farmer got $3 per pound and it doesn't mean that it covers their cost of production.

So I'm on the website right now—and I'm actually gonna take a screenshot of this so that people can look at it when we release this episode. But here in this chart you show that the C-market price when you bought this coffee was $1.49 per pound.

The cost to actually produce the coffee is $1.38 per pound. So that alone should tell you how bad the C-market price is: The C-market is 11 cents more than what it actually costs to produce that coffee. And again, that's not to say that the farmer even gets all of that money.

But then you also have a price here where you say the farm gate price. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what that farm gate price means, because as we were saying, a roaster can say we paid whatever amount of money for [a coffee]. But that doesn't necessarily mean that's the money that went to the farmer.

Mike: Yeah. Farm gate price—it can mean different things to different people.

Ashley: How would you guys use it here on your website?

Mike: We see it as the price that was actually received by the producer. To obtain that farm gate price, we need to ask the person who the producer sold their coffee to. So it's the price that they received directly, and this is different if the producer is not paying their exporting costs or dry milling costs.

If a producer had an exporting license, their farm gate would actually be FOB (Free On Board). So the price the importer paid the exporter in that case, that could be the producer, the farm. So we're looking at the price actually received by the producer for their coffee.

Ashley: So I'm looking at your website right now. This is a coffee that's available on your website right now: It's called El Jardin, and on there it says that the farm gate price was $3.42 per pound of green—so that is the actual amount of money that Jorge Rojas received for this coffee?

Mike: Yeah.

Ashley: Cool. And then at the bottom, right below that number, you also have the gross margin on the cost of production. So it's roughly about 60%.

Mike: Yeah. The beautiful thing in this case too, because with the producers that we've worked with in the past, we'll ask: What gross margin would they like to see? What gross margin would be healthy for their business? And most folks we talk with say 30% gross margin on those costs.

In this case, the importer that we work with, Shared Source, they more than covered 30% gross margin on those costs. So we didn't pay any additional premium on this. We just realized just how amazing Shared Source [is], and the prices they pay.

Ashley: Michelle Stoler was on the podcast before, so if you wanna learn a little bit more about how Shared Source works and the way that they think about coffee sourcing, you guys should go listen to that episode. Shoutout to Shared Source on the podcast.

Mike: Shoutout to Michelle Stoler. I think the prices that they pay are fantastic, and while we know that—and honestly, we knew that once we started working with them—but now we can verify, right? We can all see here that the prices they pay are incredible for their coffees.

Ashley: Do you find that people are able to look at this and say, “This makes sense”?

Mike: [Laughs] I hope so. I think that honestly, after getting the template out, something I've been thinking about is who this information is for on our website? On anyone's website? About transparency? Who are we putting this information out for? I think in the past it was for consumers, but now I'm thinking more and more it's for—it's been a hard thing to market. It's pretty, pretty impossible for us to market this. But we do want to show that people saw gross margin on this purchase and to simplify it in a way that people, these businesses that we work with, are actually profiting from the prices that we pay.

To actually dig into business profit there too, we would actually have to see how the rest of their business is working to see if their business is profitable, because of this transaction, which is why we just say gross margin. So we're looking at their direct business costs.

No matter how you cut it, it's a complicated thing to communicate quickly on the website, for folks to look at FOB, even farm gate—what are they supposed to make of this?

What we've seen over time is that roasters reference it and producers reference it too. They can look at it and say, “Oh wow, I can see that you actually care about being transparent and that yes, you actually pay prices that are reflective of our costs.”

Ashley: I wanna talk about that word, “transparency,” because that's I think coffee's favorite word—that and “intentionality.” But one of the things that is really paramount to this template for you folks, from what I understand, is that this document is made in partnership with producers.

This isn't something that you folks are making and then saying, “We're gonna pay this much to producers.” You're working in partnership with them so that those costs are transparent on both ends.

I think that there's something to be said about thinking about transparency from the perspective of all producers or all actors being opted in versus a roaster saying, “We're being transparent because we're telling you how much we paid.” But that doesn't talk about all of the people who are involved in the process.

I was wondering, for you folks, how did you think about collaboration and partnership and how did that relate to your definition of transparency?

Mike: Yeah. For us, we wanted the context. I think that what we're hearing in the specialty industry is that we (consumers) need to pay more for coffee because of 86+ scoring natural gesha, this and that. Or that we need to pay more for coffee because we (roasters) paid a lot for it.

I think that for us, cost of production is the missing link, and for consumers too, and other buyers—it's the missing link. It's getting people to understand just why we need to be paying more for coffee.

To work with producers, for us, it was important, especially in the beginning, because we were learning about all of the different costs involved. Andres Fahsen was crucial in building the questionnaire over the years and helping us build this template because he was being very detailed about his costs and what it takes and what's missing.

So we've added some things over the years, and taken some things off of the questionnaire over the years. The context is different farm-to-farm. I think in a very practical sense, that's why it's important to have this back and forth with producers, to get that kind of back and forth too.

If you're not talking with producers directly, it's very important to work with importers that you know and trust and who have direct contact with farms or washing stations so that we can learn more about their context. And also then at the end of the day, say, “Hey, does this look right? Does this cost of production reflect your costs truly?” And if so, we'll move forward, but only then.

Ashley: There's something to be said about—I don't know, it feels, maybe it's because I'm just having this like revelation as I'm talking to you, but there's something a little itchy to me about saying, “Look at what we're doing. We're being transparent. We're paying this much for coffee. But it in no way involves the rest of the actors,” you know what I mean?

There's something too about having this open-source document that, I don't know, like radically challenges that idea of what transparency actually is. Because transparency isn't about just saying all your shit out loud.

It's about actually working in partnership and being like, “This is why we did this stuff. These are the folks that are involved and everybody is gonna tell you how they're affected by this thing.”

Mike: Yeah. A good friend said to me once, “Any transparency is good.” I think that can still be true, but context matters. Context still matters that if we say, “This farm gate was received by this producer and wow, it's $4 a pound.” That seems high when you look at other prices they've paid, or another roaster's farm gate prices that they paid, but it doesn't mean anything unless we actually know what it costs the producer to produce that quote unquote “high price”—it might actually not be a sustainable price for that farm, for their business.

I think that folks releasing this information out, I think that it's good, but we need to keep moving forward here. For us, we want this template to be used by everyone. In fact, we even say on the website to take this and edit it and grow it and shape it to the relationships you're working with and working on.

We see it as the minimum, this starting point for transparency. It's surprising to see just how on board, or, I don't know—it was surprising for me at least in the beginning, to see just how on board importers are with this idea and actually how easy it can be to obtain this information.

Ashley: Yeah, it's just about asking questions—and I think if this goes back to the theme of the Cost of Production Covered project, which is that it's not just one thing, it's a thing that you folks have been working on for years. This is just one nexus point, right?

It's not, “Oh, we achieved a thing,” it's, “We're continuously working on doing better, on finding new ways to improve a system.” Like you were saying, transparency isn't one fixed point. It's not like, “We said this thing, this is transparent.” It's an ongoing, continuous conversation. And again, that just speaks to the theme of the Cost of Production Covered project that you folks have been working on for so long.

Mike: I think it's really easy to see a bunch of information and a bunch of data and get freaked out or overwhelmed or think, “Well, I can't understand this. I guess I'll take your word for it.”

I think that really what we want to have folks, roasters, importers using this template [for], what we want them to do with it, is to talk about profit and talk about how they can ensure, or at least get very close, to a cost, to a price that means something.

Ashley: Before we started recording, we were talking about who's gonna talk about what, and then Caryn at one point said that she was here to be the talent manager, which I thought was really funny.

Caryn, I was wondering, for you as a person who's done a lot of the logistical stuff here, what do you hope for?

Caryn: In 2020 we had plans to hold an event where we would have a partner from each area of the supply stream—that was obviously postponed and that [finally] happened this year in Portland in April.

That event was so meaningful to me because we were hosting Andres Fahsen at our home for the week, and going to [SCA] Expo with him. We had our importer partner, TerraNegra—Christie was here, and Michelle from Shared Source was here. And Sal and Mary Lisa from Peña Blanca and Guatemala were also here. It was so meaningful for us to be together, and I saw that as the pinnacle of this project because it was taking something that was on paper and had been in digital communications for so long.

And it was in person, right? We could actually hug each other for the first time and speak to a sold-out event of 60 people in one of our cafes for the first time. Really, the impetus for opening our second cafe inside of Powell's Books was to have an event like this. So to see it come to life was so important to us.

And then to see the people who attended this event say, “This makes sense to me. I just started a roasting company. I'm going to start doing it with my first coffee that I buy.” That meant a lot to us.

I think we wanna keep that energy up, but it's gonna take a lot more people to be involved at this point, right? And that's why it's open-source. That's why we're talking with you right now: We need it to reach other people. Because we've seen the limits of what we can do with it.

Ashley: Is there anything that you folks want people listening to this episode to know that we didn't cover, or any topics that we glossed over that you wanna end on?

Mike: For me, I would like to emphasize just how I know no one's gonna understand what it was like to use the previous questionnaire and template. For me, it's been such a breath of fresh air how easy it is to actually implement.

I think what I would like to share with roasters big and small, because actually walking around Expo we got to talk with roasters of all different sizes, is that this is an easy place to start.

With this kind of tool there is, it's something that we should be basing our prices on. If we can get this kind of data from producer partners that we value, these relationships, that there would be no reason to not use it. That's what I would like to share.

Ashley: We'll have a link to this on the Boss Barista transcript for this episode. And when we release more details about this episode, those will be available. So if you can't find it on the Boss Barista website, you can find at as well.

Like Caryn and Mike have said, this is open-source. You can make your own copy, you can make this your own, you can do whatever you want with it. But thank you so much, both of you, for taking the time to chat with me. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Mike: Ashley, this has been so much fun talking with you. Thanks. Thanks for having us on.

Caryn: Thank you for supporting this over the years and sharing it with your listeners.

This episode was lightly edited for length and clarity.

A newsletter and podcast about a thing you drink everyday. Interviews and articles about big ideas in coffee, the service industry, and collective action.