Farmgate Coffees

Every coffee has a price at the farm where it is grown. This “farmgate” price, as it’s known,  is one of the least transparent details in coffee, and specialty coffee is no exception. “Farmgate” is an industry term with a strict definition and no certification. Royal has long bought coffees from organizations that make this information available to us. And we are always adding more. What’s missing has been a way to share farmgate pricing with roasters. We want transparency to be of value to you, to inspire new coffee selections and to fortify your sourcing programs as you make decisions over time.

What is Farmgate?

Farmgate offerings are nothing more than coffees for which we are publishing prices paid to contributing farmers. We are starting the category with select coffees from exemplary farmer-centric producer groups. But over time the category will grow as we add and add. By creating a category we can make farmgate price transparency overt and visible on each product page, and allow roasters to search for coffees that have this data, as they would by origin or price. In many cases farmgate price transparency is central to the operations of our supplier–Catracha Coffee, for example, has been selling this way since their inception–and in others, the data is willingly shared by request, as a show of transparency to us. Read more from our cofounder, Bob Fulmer here

FOB & Farmgate

While roasters often have access to the Free On Board price, or “FOB”, that importers pay exporters when coffee is shipped from origin, there is no such standard for reporting what farmers earn for the coffees they contribute to that shipment. That is, unless farmers export their own coffee, which is still often out of the question. Coffee’s trading history has largely excluded farmers from negotiations because farmers rarely have the leverage to participate in container-sized, commodified marketplaces. Specialty coffee has brought farm traceability to the forefront, where farm details are widely shared in the service of storytelling and quality differentiation. Both of which create more overall value for the entire chain. Farmer prices themselves, however, remain deeply sensitive and difficult to acquire, or to understand without firsthand experience. It often takes long term relationships, trust, and mutual desire between buyers and sellers to transparently acknowledge farmer prices, and to document them as essential information like we would fermentation times or cultivars. But by doing so we prove that the livelihood of coffee farmers, not just their quality, is central to our thinking.

Royal's role

Royal provides economy-of-scale advantages which help micro-sized producers get their coffee to the growing number of roasters looking for transparently traded coffee.  Royal’s inventory can be a meaningful inflection point for coffees. Through us coffees gain exposure they might not otherwise have. As we put more effort into differentiating and explaining value in all its forms, farmer price transparency simply can’t be left undisclosed. We put a lot of effort into curating our inventory and empowering roasting businesses of every size. Information, as much as quality, consistency, punctuality, or price, has long been a part of our value.