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A Window into Relationship Coffee: Building a Supplier Dashboard for Sustainable Harvest

A Window into Relationship Coffee: Building a Supplier Dashboard for Sustainable Harvest

Program: Dow Sustainability Fellows Program
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Sustainable Harvest

(Dow Fellows Program 2015)

Sustainable Harvest Inc. (SH) is a specialty coffee importer headquartered in Portland, Oregon. SH sources unroasted (green) coffee beans from 18 countries in Latin America and Africa and sells to roasters in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Over the past 17 years, SH has pioneered the “Relationship Coffee Model” as a direct trade method, providing significant investment and training to producers at origin to facilitate improved coffee bean quality, protect against environmental and price risks, and improve farmer livelihoods. SH also strives to increase transparency along the supply chain.

At its core the mission of our project was to help SH develop a standardized and effective process for communicating to its customers (coffee roasters) the value-add of engagements - including sustainability-related interventions - along its supply chain. We accomplished this by creating an annual supplier survey of farmers in SH’s supply chain, which allows SH to monitor various performance and process metrics over time. By tracking this information, Sustainable Harvest is able to measure the progress its suppliers are making in:

  • Employing best-in-class labor standards and advancing the livelihoods of smallholder farmers;
  • Growing consistent, high-quality coffee;
  • Implementing sustainable agronomic practices and promoting resilient farming communities;
  • Developing long-term relationships within Sustainable Harvest and with other capacity builders.

As a final deliverable, we created a dashboard that Sustainable Harvest can use to communicate to its customer's key supplier metrics, allowing them to “know” their suppliers. Finally, we worked on predicting and evaluating future challenges and recommended solutions that should help Sustainable Harvest’s relationship coffee model, with its new dashboard, thrive for years to come.