Every coffee professional will need to plan origin trips at least once to understand the culture behind coffee production. But how to plan a successful origin trip? As green coffee importers, we regularly plan visits to origin countries and we always leave with a mini-mission.
So let’s talk about mission planning to get the most out of your trip. Sourcing, relationship management, and content creation. Which Quest are you taking?
Scenario 1: Sourcing
Finding your best pick of the harvest starts with formulating a general idea of your needs. Don’t keep these ideas in your notepad, share them with your export partners and farmers in advance! This includes all sample-related requests, such as how many samples you aim to cup and the possibility to bring those samples home. Being clear about your needs will help you achieve your mission.
Time management is of vital importance for sourcing goals. Farm visits require you to make an itinerary together with your suppliers. Visiting one farm can take up a whole day and planning too many farm visits per trip can be exhausting. Moreover, connecting with farmers and cupping their coffee is part of your timeline as well. Often, the morning is the perfect moment to cup to not lose the rest of the day!
Scenario 2: Relationship management
Have you ever met your partners in coffee production? Why not take a trip to reinforce the partnerships?
These trips are the best moment to develop a personal relationships, both with long-term and potential new suppliers. You listed out names, calculated the distance and accessibility, considered the time you spend with each producer. Step-by-step, all dots are connecting to prepare you final itinerary.
Prior to departure, does your suitcase have space for presents? Take along with you some roasted coffee of other origins for local producers to try out. (However, always bring roasted beans, or your green coffee might end up at a custom check. Bringing green coffee back home is no problem!)
Scenario 3: Content creation
This migh not be a sourcing emergency, but your business might need to refresh some content for the website and social media. Hence, it is time you set up a visit to your suppliers and collect content materials along the way.
Determining (along with your Marketing crew) how you want the final content to be shared. Your dream content will tell you which equipment you need to carry in your luggage, including a camera, drones, mics, or physical notes. Are you planning to take a second partner as a photographer on the trip? This is the best way to appear on the content yourself!
Above all, regardless of your mission, there are some important reminders for our trip planners:
- Contact the exporter beforehand and be clear about your mission of the trip. Ask them for advice about airport pick-ups and local transport.
- Check your visa/entry requirements are arranged in advance. They might be slower than expected during and after Covid.
- Try to get your 3G/4G plan arranged upon arrival. Having internet access during the many hours in the car will be welcomed by your friends and family. Remember the time difference!
- Don’t plan a tight schedule! Your experience will benefit better from a timeline with rooms of flexibility
- Double check & test all of your equipment: camera, drone,… (and batteries!)
Don't miss out the fun
This brings us to our final remark, don’t leave out the experience! Origin travel does not only mean coffee! By mixing in moments to experience culture you will get a better understanding about local life. Hence, do some tourist activities, try local food if you are up for it, and have fun!
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