On Being a Green Coffee Buyer

by Mike McKim, founder/CEO, Cuvée Coffee

Origin_Guatemala_114When I began building a coffee roasting business over 15 years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. To be honest, I didn’t know a lot going in. I just started moving in a direction, and because I tend to act first and ask questions later, it’s been a steep learning curve. I make mistakes along the way, but in the process I also discover some unforeseen treasures. That’s how it’s been with my green coffee buying path.

Without question, the best part of buying green coffee is interacting with great people. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that no matter what the cultural divide may be, good people are good people anywhere you go. And because I spend so much time searching for excellent coffee, I naturally meet excellent people who love what they do. They share my passion for coffee, and that makes our interactions enjoyable.

But if the people are great, the process of traveling to get to them is not always as great as it sounds. Scouring the globe looking for great coffee sounds romantic, but honestly, the travel is the hardest part. Any professional can tell you that traveling is difficult when you’re alone, and the lifestyle is so different from what you’re accustomed to.

For example, I recently spent two weeks in Ethiopia living on dirt floors and sleeping on cots. I was constantly covered in mud and dust, riding in the back of pick-up trucks on remarkably bad roads, and never quite sure about the possible consequences of the water I was drinking. All that was coupled with the fact that, for 14 days, I was about 8,600 miles and nine time zones away from my family. The days get really long under those circumstances.

Difficult travel aside, though, I am constantly surprised to learn that despite the difference in standards of living, most farmers I work with are very joyful. They honestly love what they do, and it shows; their passion translates into the coffee they are producing. It all comes back to interacting with good people.

As is seemingly everything I have learned in my 15 years of roasting coffee, buying green coffee has been an unexpected journey. Some good, some bad and some surprising. But the honest truth is I love it all.

mckim small Mike McKim is the founder and CEO of Cuvée Coffee with a penchant for innovation, authenticity and transparency. Together with his wife, Rashelle, Mike began roasting coffee as an exploratory hobby in 1998 in Dallas, Texas, and soon realized that his product was in great demand. Today Cuvée distributes coffee nationwide with Mike as a highly involved owner who loves what he does. Currently, Mike lives in the Texas Hill Country next door to the roastery with his family. Contact him @MikeMckim on Twitter.