Celebrating 15 Years In Coffee

Andrew Vournas, Specialty Green Coffee Importer with Costa Rican Coffee Farmer

15 years ago there were almost no small, family-run importers focused on real, high-grade quality, estates or organics. Nor was there any overarching effort to provide small farmers with fair prices and to bring their coffees in on a consistent basis. Back then Vournas Coffee wasn’t the most trendy or hip importer—we did what we did because it was the right thing to do. Fast forward to today and we’re STILL not the trendiest, most hip boutique importer, and we’re okay with that. But we do believe we are on the cutting edge of what our Roasters want and expect.  We don’t buy hype, we buy exceptional coffee. Then again many other importers also buy great coffee, so what is it that separates us? For starters we believe that we flat-out provide the best customer service in the industry. We like to call it ‘old world’ service, because somehow overtime the idea of going above and beyond became old-fashioned, out-of-date, not-profitable. How rich!

On any given day we speak to dozens of people from all over the country and all corners of the coffee world, listening to their perspectives and responding to their needs. In turn our network helps us continue gaining insight to maintain and fine-tune an agile, strong supply chain. As we see it, we all (roasters, growers and traders) move forward together or… should we fail in our mission, move together backwards.

Our roasters are fantastic; they care about quality and they care about farmers. Most of them are growing businesses, some are one or two person rockstar operations, and all of them are super busy. That’s ok, we spend the same amount of time assisting the roaster who buys one bag as the roaster who buys 1,000. We provide roasting know-how, market analysis, precise blending recommendations, and our advice on building a healthy, life-long business. Or another way of looking at it – high grade, quality, specialty coffee is actually the delivery vehicle for us to provide our roasters with a full-spectrum of customer services.

Every day we work to ensure that the problems of today are not the problems of tomorrow. For 15 years we’ve helped farmers earn more money, earn it consistently and receive it on time. We offer them constructive, balanced advice on ways to improve quality, often placing them in contact with other growers who may be able to provide even better feedback. In our approach we have always been conscious never to force our ideas into action at the farm level, because we believe it to be a necessity for farmers and co-op’s to be in charge of their own future.

So what’s in store for the next 15? We’d love to see farmers benefitting more from increases in profitability of the specialty coffee sector, but we’d also like to see more mom and pop roasters and more of them getting ahead and staying ahead. As for us, we certainly hope that our values don’t become any OLDER world! Our reputation for quality and excellence has carried us this far and we don’t plan on changing.

Yours In Coffee,