Holly von Hoyningen Huene, Co-Owner, Kaito Coffee Roasters
Company: Kaito Coffee Roasters
Location: Hudson, Quebec, Canada
Sector: Coffee Roasting
tLBCC: What makes you decide where you source coffees from and/or what importers you work with? What do they do, or can they do, to earn your trust?
Holly von Hoyningen Huene: There are 2 crucial boxes to check:
The quality/taste has to be there. At the moment, we consider coffees that we score at 85 points or more. Since we’re a small operation and there are lots of great coffees and producers out there, we find it helpful to have clear limits when defining our standard.
The coffee has to be sourced in a responsible and transparent way. We work only with importers we trust. That trust comes from how transparent they strive to be with information about the coffees they are bringing in (financials, practices at origin, quality control, logistics, etc.) and also from how much they care about maintaining a healthy relationship with the producers and establishing long term, collaborative kinds of relationships them.
We’re currently working with really great people at:
• Orange Brown Imports
• Apex Coffee Imports
• Red Fox Coffee Merchants
• Collaborative Coffee Source
• Nordic Approach
tLBCC: What steps do you take to build trust with your wholesale clients? How do you ensure they can rely on you and the product you sell?
Holly von Hoyningen Huene: The first thing we aim to do is to provide an excellent service and product and that means doing what we say we’re going to do—consistently roast amazing coffees and deliver them on time.
Then we offer support in terms of coffee education and knowledge, skills training, equipment service and maintenance, and just general emotional support too—because we all need that.
And then, the overarching thing I think is that we are really open about pretty much everything. We will share who we buy our coffees from, how much we pay for coffees, and what our costs are so that partners can understand why coffees are priced the way they are. We’re open about our approach to roasting and we will share profiles and theories if the interest is there. We’re open to all kinds of discussions and ideas that will help to grow and strengthen their businesses, which in turn helps grow and strengthen OUR INDUSTRY in general—because that’s actually what we’re in this for. We want to empower people to better coffee.
tLBCC: Do you have any other thoughts about building trust along the specialty coffee supply chain?
Holly von Hoyningen Huene: On a personal note, I would like to be better at communicating this open approach that I just mentioned. We practice it with our wholesale partners, which is great, but I want Kaito to do its part for our industry and to communicate it to a larger more general audience—to the consumer. I want consumers to be aware and educated on this issue, because I really believe in the power of the consumer to change things, to demand transparency. And, the more we can talk about this and include more people in the conversation, the more we make it relevant. That’s how we get people to care and ASK QUESTIONS and that’s how we start building trust. Trust can only come from open and transparent dialogue. I’m feeling super grateful actually for the opportunity to talk about this here—so thank you for asking these questions!
But yeah, generally, I feel it is imperative for all of us to demand transparency from the players in the coffee chain that we interact with. Transparency is really the key I think. If there is actual transparency, then there can be real fairness and finally TRUST. And, if we can trust that people and the planet are being treated fairly and with honour (in coffee and beyond)—then we will all be walking around, exploding with love. Imagine that?!