Curating Coffee with Nordic Approach

9 APR 2020

We are delighted to share that we are now curating coffee with Nordic Approach.

Despite coffee being one of the most popular beverages in the world, we rarely pause to think about where it is from, who plants it, and how cherries from coffee trees become the liquid black gold we drink to wake ourselves up every morning.

The supply chain of coffee beans is a lengthy process that involves growers, processors and many other middle-people: intermediaries, government agents and exporters. While the global coffee market continues to grow, the coffee production industry remains largely small-scale. By 2014, 40% of the world’s coffee was roasted and served by three coffee brands, and 50% of coffee trade was controlled by five major companies; yet, 70 percent of the world’s coffee is grown by 7 million farmers on farms with a net area of 12 acres or less.


Due to the structure of the global coffee supply chain and various risks inherent in coffee cultivation, coffee farmers around the world are faced with different challenges, including price fluctuations and unreliable income, high infrastructure investment costs, coffee diseases and pests, climate change and more.

Coffee farmers usually receive less than 10% of what the final customer pays for a cup of coffee, and to make matters worse, coffee prices dived to a 13-year low in 2019, leaving farmers unable to invest into improved coffee quality, nor to derive a living income from their harvest. Without an economic foundation, it is difficult for farmers to continue with coffee cultivation, and to conceive sustainable, thriving coffee-farming communities that can be the basis for a diversified and growing industry.

Coffee buyers and roasters are working together to improve the living conditions of coffee farmers through direct trade. According to Patrick Murray of Finca Majahaul, a coffee farm in El Salvador, direct trade is “the establishment of a direct channel of trade, and the long-term relationship fostered between producers and roasters.” It eliminates middlemen that were involved in the conventional coffee supply chain, allowing coffee producers to retain more profit from their produce, to build transparent, meaningful relationships with roasters and to gain more knowledge and insight into how they can improve the quality of their coffee.

While some roasters take part in direct trade, others work with responsible direct-trade coffee importers in sourcing quality coffee offerings every season. As part of the global coffee community, we also want to do our part in helping keep the industry sustainable: this is why we have chosen to work with Nordic Approach, a Norweigen sourcing company, in curating our single origins offerings in 2020.


The NA team travels frequently to origins around the globe to identify, improve and select the best seasonal coffees based on cup profiles. When Morten Wennersgaard and his team founded the company in 2011, they had one mission in mind: to sustainably source and supply quality green beans whilst ensuring coffee farms retain as much profit as they can. The company eliminates most middle-people from the supply chain by purchasing directly from producers, and handling all imports and exports in its three warehouses in Europe and North America.

Through his years of experience as a coffee buyer at Solberg & Hansen Coffee Roasters, Morten understands the process and growing criteria are heavily linked to the quality of a coffee. He knows that great coffees can be achieved only when farmers are paid a decent income for the good coffee they produce, as this will mean that they have enough money to provide for their families, to invest even more capital on their farms and produce quality coffee. This is why Nordic Approach believes in working on a community level to understand the needs of producing partners, paying them a fair price for their harvest, as well as providing them with reasonable amounts of premium annually.

Nordic Approach is also working really hard to make information transparent and available to its customers: the coffee roasters and end consumers. Despite the amount of thought, system development and data input that are required to maintain transparency throughout the supply chain, the NA team published its first transparency report on its Rwandan offerings in 2018.

In the report, we were also able to learn more about Mahembe Rwanda, one of our newest single origin coffees. This beautiful lot of washed Red Bourbon is from Mahembe, a privately owned washing station in Nyamasheke, western Rwanda. Its owner Justin Musabiyama, who is a knowledgeable coffee farmer and processor, shares a solid relationship with Nordic Approach. Under its independent pricing mechanism, NA is able to ensure that coffee growers in the area earn 50% above fairtrade prices when they sell their coffee cherries to Mahembe. Through Justin, it is also providing education on coffee husbandry and annual premiums to the coffee growers. This way, farmers can then make a decent living out of their harvest, and continue to supply good quality Rwandan coffee.

Our single origins selection for next week includes Mahembe Rwanda and Buku Saiyisa Ethiopia from Nordic Approach. Pop in from next Wednesday to enjoy the delicious coffees, or order bags from our online shop to brew your own at home.