April 15 - Coffee T&I Magazine
Innovative, transparency-driven mobile platform creator iFinca recently worked with the USAID-sponsored Coffee for Peace initiative for the first time to facilitate U.S. coffee buyers’ purchases of coffee through the initiative, from Cooperativa Nuevo Futuro in Colombia’s Cauca Department.
Launched in 2019, iFinca is a Colombia-based technology company that created the iFinca mobile app, which aims to connect consumers to the farmers behind the coffee they drink. In addition to providing that connection, the innovative platform allows for full economic transparency and traceability, providing buyers and farmers with a guaranteed price and third- party-validated payments.
“You will often find a disconnect between café and farm,” says Alexander Barrett, founder and CEO of iFinca. “iFinca’s app provides farmers a voice to speak directly to consumers and buyers. It offers baristas and roasters the chance to tell a complete story about the coffee. iFinca’s new technology is finally bridging the gap and helping to create a more holistic relationship between farmers and buyers. By empowering farmers, we can create a better future for the industry.”
iFinca discovered Cooperativa Nuevo Futuro through Coffee for Peace, which works to develop, facilitate, and promote the trade of traceable coffees from historic conflict zones in Colombia—including Cauca. In December, Coffee for Peace connected iFinca to the cooperative, and iFinca soon agreed to facilitate the purchase of 22,000 pounds of green coffee from Nuevo Futuro in local currency for the equivalent of $2.35 USD per pound—a farm- gate price 202% above the Colombian daily price at the time.
Cooperativa Nuevo Futuro, headquartered in Cauca’s capital city of Popayán, launched in 1996, when coffee began being promoted in the area as an alternative to illicit crops. After purchasing Nuevo Futuro’s coffee in January 2020, iFinca trained five farmers from Nuevo Futuro on how to use the app: Alejandro Llanten, Luís Alfonso Medina, Luz Elva Chacon, Reinerio Gómez, and Andrés Chacon. With that know-how, the farmers have been able to track the financial information of buyers’ purchases from iFinca, and will be able to communicate with end consumers about the cooperative and their coffee.
Consumers will be able to enjoy Cooperativa Nuevo Futuro’s coffee soon through the three U.S.-based roasters that purchased the coffee and are connected to the cooperative through the iFinca mobile app: Craft Brew Coffee in Belleville, Ill.; Xanadu Coffee Company in Phoenix; and The Press Espresso in Temecula, Calif. The roasters will receive the green coffee this month and will be adding it to their offerings soon.
iFinca plans to continue connecting buyers in the future to coffees from organizations in regions where the Coffee for Peace initiative operates, paying farmers above-market prices that help improve their livelihoods.
“iFinca is excited to be part of the Coffee for Peace initiative,” says Alexander Barrett. “Our model of ‘farmers first’ aligns with the mission of Nuevo Futuro. The iFinca mobile app is designed as a tool for all farmers to provide a point of connection, increase the price they receive for their coffee, and give consumers and buyers full transparency for each cup of coffee.”
Willem Boot of Coffee for Peace adds: “Innovative technologies like iFinca help strengthen international coffee market systems. Despite the challenges to these systems caused by COVID-19, we are very happy to collaborate with iFinca for their traceable coffee purchases and to promote the important cause of our program.”