In our second installment of our [Importer Highlight] series of posts we will introduce you to the fine folks of Café Imports.  To say that Café Imports has had an impact on the specialty coffee industry would be an understatement.  What began as two friends jumping into the green coffee business in 1993 has since grown into a worldwide importing company, offering coffees from producing countries throughout Africa, Indonesia, and Central & South America.  The offerings, programs, and impact that Café Imports has in its operation are too vast for us to explain in a simple blog post, but we want to give you an introduction to the quality work that they do.

The Driving Principles of Café Imports are what really drew us to them and are what keep us coming back:  Quality, Service, Education, and Sustainability.

Their first driving principle is Quality, which really drives everything that they do and shines greatly in the coffees they offer.  The breadth and quality of the green coffees Café Imports sources is unmatched.  Anytime we line up a cupping table full of different Café Imports offerings we are never let down by a single coffee… it’s usually a matter of which coffee we like best, instead of eliminating which of the coffees that are below our quality standards.

How has Café Imports grown such a large and diverse set of green coffee offerings?  I would wager it’s because of their next Driving Principle, Sustainability.  When sourcing green coffees Café Imports takes a three-prong approach.  They look at the Ecological, Social, and Economical practices at the farm level, and also within their own operations.  All three of these aspects are a requirement for them to move sustainably forward in their business with farmers, cooperatives, and estates.  Keeping in mind the Ecological, Social, and Economic impact of their relationships at origin has led Café Imports to Sustainably offer the best quality coffees out there… Not just quality in taste, but quality in impact.

The last two Driving Principles of Café Imports almost go hand-in-hand in my mind:  Service & Education.  It is the top-notch service that Café Imports offers that has led them to be on the forefront of Coffee Education within the Specialty Coffee industry.  Café Imports has taken a lot of bold steps in order to offer the best service.  They warehouse a majority of their coffees in their own warehouse in Minneapolis, something that most Coffee Importers outsource to large warehousing facilities on the East & West coasts.  Why do they warehouse their own coffees?… So that they can control the quality of the coffees while they are stored and the quality of their warehouse service.  The pallets of coffee that we receive from Café Imports are always cleanly and securely wrapped, and our orders are almost always shipped out within 24 hours.  How do they run such a tight operation?… They have a well-paid and well-trained staff that not only do their jobs very well, but enjoy what they’re doing.  Every interaction we have with them is a perfect mix of personal and professional.

Café Imports could have just stopped there and would be offering top-notch Service, but they took their Service a step further by becoming Educators.  Café Imports website alone is a vast web of resources that are invaluable to any coffee company, and it’s all there free for the taking.  There are roast logs and roast profiles for specific coffees they offer.  There are overviews of every coffee producing Country they work with.  There are downloadable courses.  There are months of educational experiences offered for free on their website.  Did they stop there… No.  Café Imports wanted to go further.  So they opened the MPLS Coffee Mill, which is a coffee focused workspace where cafes and roasters can go to get hands on experience.  They offer a number of different in-depth educational classes.  They also operate an SCAA Certified Training Lab, where a number of SCAA Certified courses are offered year-round.

When it comes to sourcing some of the best coffees around the globe, Café Imports knows how to do it.  When it comes to serving their customers and business partners, Café Imports knows how to do it.  When it comes to going above and beyond their role as a green coffee importer and leading the specialty coffee industry forward, Café Imports knows how to do it.  We are sure happy to be working with them and gleaning from their relationships and expertise.

To check out more about Café Imports be sure to look at their website www.cafeimports.com.

To read an excellent, excellent(!!!) blog about the important role of the green coffee importer and what it means to coffee farmers, then check out Noah Namowicz’s (of Cafe Imports) guest post on Trubaca.com.