It was a hot summer like this one. WiFi was intermittent in the office due to the heat–wave, although predictably the internet provider was giving some highly technical, and presumably plausible explanation. Nevertheless, it was still sufficiently operational to be able to drip-feed me an email from Ocean College proposing a collaborative project with Bonaverde, and asking us for a meeting.
A few weeks later a big guy walks through the door. He explains the project in a very straightforward way. It sounds like an organic approach to education. Practical learning. Cool!
Yes, organic is an overused and abused concept nowadays, but think about it, because in this case makes sense: a way of knowledge-gathering that is defined by the surroundings of the subject-at-hand (not in a dusty classroom). Ocean College’s curriculum is, in-fact, all about learning unique skills from whatever locality or industry they immerse themselves in. Given they travel via sailing ship to the Caribbean and Central America to learn in-situ, they would for instance in Cuba learn politics and the communist systems, if you are in Panama international trading and world transport system, and if you are in a coffee country, like Guatemala, then you might learn about commodities and harvesting through coffee.
We loved goal of the project, so a few months later a bunch of lilly-livered land lubber youngsters found themselves sailing from Europe to the Americas.
The idea was to bring the coffee shipment back with them on the sailboat, ensuring that, in addition to everything else, it would be a Carbon Neutral mission. Awesome!
But, of course things are never quite that easy — especially when dealing with worldwide logistics of commodities for the first time in your life.
So on their way back, and with the coffee stowed onboard, the beautiful people from customs stop them and present this totally fictitious re-enactment of the ensuing conversation:
Customs: Hey, what’s up?
Ocean College: Not much man, just here doing our education thing with a bunch of kids around the globe.
Customs: Oh, nice, where are you heading to?
Ocean College: Amsterdam!
Customs: Oh, cool, cool…
Ocean College: Yeah, we’re psyched to go back
Customs: Do you mind if we take a look inside the ship
Ocean College: I don’t know, the trade winds wait for no man and we’re kind of in a rush — but hey if it’s a quick, no problem!
Customs: Yeah, it should be quick
[5 min later...]
Customs: So is it all this coffee for private consumption [says the Customs officer, gesturing at 6 tons of coffee]
Ocean College: Kind of. You know, you don’t want to run out of coffee nowadays, do you?
Customs: Ok. Sure, sure… Right. Do you have any importer/exporter license then?
Ocean College: Sorry, what’s that?
Customs: I mean, do you have some paperwork saying that it’s OK to move 6 tons of coffee across the globe
Ocean College: Uffff, not sure, nowadays everything is digital though isn’t it?
Customs: Yeah. Sure… Please, just wait here for a second.
So the coffee had to wait a little longer in this beautiful port, where the pristine Caribbean mirrored the blue sky in an endless game of mirrors — for about 3 months before making its final journey to Europe.
When Ocean College contacted us again, they offered to drop the deal — they suggested that making the coffee “carbon positive”, and having a few months delay was reason enough to let us opt-out from our deal.
But being a start-up, we can’t but stop and empathise with the struggle of others when they try to challenge the normal way of doing business, trading coffee, and doing worldwide logistics. And the coffee tastes truly amazing: a true low-volume boutique batch of hand picked Speciality Grade coffee. And next year we hope they’ll get it Carbon Neutral too.
So now we’re happy to introduce to you the first batch of Ocean College Coffee. It’s a small batch, and incredibly limited quantities, so you better run to get in quick!
Kike Molares — Bonaverde Head of Roasting