Our coffee was ready in April. We spent all of May and most of July trying to secure shipping containers and dates for ocean freight. It was three months of challenges trying to organize our coffee’s departure from Nicaragua. These challenges included weather conditions, trucking availability, inflation, and energy prices, just to name a few.
At the end of July, a shipping container's price was three times the normal rate. The issue around shipping container availability was due to port congestion which has been ongoing for months and creating issues and delays in the supply chain across the world. With the added factors of strict lockdowns in China and the continued labour shortage, this year created a perfect nightmarish storm for us in securing our coffee and getting it here to Canada.
What we had to do this year to overcome these challenges was to completely throw out the idea of any profitability this year for Aroma Nica. We had to sacrifice our profitability as an organization to secure the market for our growers, which is far more important. They need to get their coffee to market and their profitability is our only concern at this point given how difficult the year 2022 has proven to be. Sacrificing our own margins would allow us to deliver our growers’ coffee to market while being able to sustain a reasonable price for roasters and customers who are already feeling the stresses of historic inflation.
Other coffee-sourcing companies and importers in our situation may have the option to diversify their coffee supply to mitigate some of these challenges. But that is not an option for us. Our promise to roasters is to have the best coffee we can source, and our commitment to growers is to have a market for them that pays a fair, sustainable price.
Our beans are simply irreplaceable. To seek out alternative sources for our coffee would chip away at the long-standing loyalty, partnership, and commitment we have to our growers in Las Sabanas and Dipilto. Not to mention the fact that we can guarantee that any coffee sought out in a time of difficulty to make ends meet would drastically affect the high level of quality that we are so accustomed to with our artfully skilled farmers and would undermine their unwavering efforts to produce this coffee in the face of all this adversity.
We always have prioritized availability over profitability. We have spent a lot of time this year looking for inefficiencies to cut out any extra incurred costs that could be passed on to our roasters. Because securing a market for our growers means that this coffee needs to remain accessible. Somehow despite a lack of profitable margins for Aroma Nica, we are still here doing what we do, 25 years later.
As a result of these challenges: coffee that was supposed to be here in late May or early June is only just arriving now in mid-October.
Even now that coffee is on its way, a lot could change pricing-wise. The interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve have strengthened the U.S. Dollar. This slow and steady rise of the USD is growing uncomfortable for our trading partners, and its growth isn’t expected to slow. This only makes everything more expensive.
Amidst all of this, we feel so lucky. Lucky that we are able to source the greatest coffee from the most incredible growers, and be able to share it with our loyal customers who truly cherish every bean, and who deeply understand the value of this coffee and connect with its story. Because that is what we have at the end of all of this, the value and power of this coffee’s story.
We remain eternally optimistic. It is what has driven us through the turbulence of these 25 years.