Thanks For The Memories, 2023! 

With hundreds of cuppings, dozens of customer catch ups in and outside Melbourne (including our first ever trip to meet our Thai and Singaporean coffee communities), six sourcing trips to origin, five extremely fun Let’s Cup! events, two Private Collection Auctions and one very special visit from our Colombian supply partners, Pergamino, it’s fair to say 2023 kept us pretty busy! 

We kicked off this whirlwind of a year with a long-awaited trip to Ethiopia, where we spent valuable time with our supply partner, Testi Coffee. It was the first of many to come, with sourcing trips to Kenya, Guatemala, Rwanda, Brazil and Bolivia taking place later in the year – in some cases, our first time on the ground since 2019! Each visit was hugely impactful in strengthening the relationships we hold at origin and in informing and advancing our collective knowledge about the countries and communities we source coffee from. Our relationships are at the very heart of our business, and we count many of our partners not only as respected suppliers, but as dear, dear friends. It’s a joy to spend time travelling, conversing, cupping and simply hanging out with the individuals who make up our supply chain and we’re looking forward to more of the same in 2024!

Equally, we adore hosting and visiting our roasting community around the country and further afield. It’s so energising to get out and about, and see what all the innovative, enterprising and creative minds of our (relatively youthful) industry are up to! Thanks for inviting us into your cafes and roasteries, friends – we feel hugely inspired and motivated by our community’s curiosity, passion and generosity and are grateful for the fun times, tasty coffees and enlightening conversations we’ve shared this year. It’s truly been a pleasure! 

For Melbourne Coffee Merchants, it is a privilege and a responsibility to work directly with both producing and roasting communities, and we are passionate about using our position in the supply chain to create meaningful connections for all parties involved. We’re supported in this by a network of outstanding coffee professionals, who place equal value in connection and collaboration. After a hugely successful tour with Pedro and Léo from Pergamino just last month, we’re thrilled to share that our friends Silvio and Fabiano will be heading to Australia from Brazil in March 2024. Stay tuned for more on this trip – we’ll be finalising details of their schedule early next year and getting in touch to organise customer visits and cuppings.

Our team grew this year – in more ways than one! We were delighted to welcome Lemara to MCM in July, as she stepped into a logistics role in preparation for Beau’s forthcoming maternity leave. And in late September, we celebrated the safe arrival of Beau’s baby boy, Oscar! Throughout the year, the team continued to strengthen and expand our business practices and services, including building out a better and more accurate inventory system, moving our stock to a larger warehouse and landing shipments in Perth and Sydney for the first time. With Lemara on board, we’re excited to continue refining our logistics and finding efficiencies in our supply chain to better manage risk and support our customers into 2024.

While the commodity price for coffee has stabilised this year, for many of our supply partners the cost of producing specialty coffee and securing labour is still significantly higher than it was pre-pandemic. This, coupled with a weakening Australian dollar and cost-of-living pressures both at home and at origin, has resulted in higher prices across the board for the coffees we source. Successfully forecasting and planning during this changing landscape has been a huge focus for our team, suppliers and customers alike. It’s been a learning curve, for sure, but one that has only strengthened our resolve to pay fair and appropriate prices for the coffees that we source and prioritise relationship and people over profit. We are enormously grateful for the expertise and guidance of our supply partners this year, and for the commitment of our customers to quality, traceability and transparency. We don’t take your trust and goodwill for granted and will continue to support you as effectively as we can through mutual values and respect, open and honest communication and considered decision making. And, as always, we’re here to share any of our learnings or insights with our roasting community!

Outside of our core operations, we are constantly looking for ways to improve and progress our business and were proud to reach our first-year anniversary as a BCorp certified company in August. The process of achieving and maintaining certification has given us a structure to benchmark our practices against the best and most sustainably run businesses around the world and hold ourselves accountable to our own standards and objectives. Over the next 12 months, we’ll start goal setting for our recertification in 2025 and we look forward to uncovering the areas of our business which can be developed and strengthened further through this process.

Throughout 2023 we remained passionate supporters of both World Coffee Research and the Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide: two initiatives that facilitate collective industry action towards a more prosperous and sustainable future for coffee producers, by setting profitable pricing targets and mitigating the risk of climate change, respectively. We wholeheartedly believe that a collective approach is our best chance at protecting and sustaining the communities who produce the coffees we love and strongly encourage our roasting community to join in these efforts  – get in touch anytime to learn more, or sign up yourself! 

Rounding out the year, we are so excited to have launched Supporting Strong Women to coincide with the arrival of this year’s Rwandan offerings. This special campaign celebrates and promotes the work of Rambagirakawa, an enterprising and ambitious alliance of female landowners and coffee producers, within Dukunde Kawa cooperative – a long time supply partner of MCM’s. After an inspiring visit to the women during our June sourcing trip, we are determined to showcase their incredible work, ethos and accomplishments and foster further opportunity for the group. Through the campaign, we’ve committed to raising $15,000 to build a day care facility at Dukunde Kawa’s HQ, Ruli, to service the women and their families. Accomplishing this goal directly impacts the women’s productivity and prosperity, while also ensuring the children are cared for in a safe, happy and nurturing environment, surrounded by their community and with their mums, aunties and grandmothers close by.

By participating in Supporting Strong Women, you can become part of the compelling story of these strong and resourceful women and the important role they play in the ongoing success of Rwandan specialty coffee production. We’ve already been blown away by the positive response to the campaign from our customers and can’t wait to get out there to start shouting about it to the broader Australian coffee community via events and promotion in early 2024! Watch this space. 

So, hearts full, eyes bright and spirits lifted we’re heading on into 2024, excited to see what the next twelve months hold – we’ll see you there!