May 6, 2020

The Co-operative That Is Part of the Community

In forever-sunny Phoenix, Arizona, you’ll find roasting co-operative Xanadu Coffee Roasters. It’s the brainchild of Randall Denton and Jessica Bueno, who set up shop together 11 years ago after discovering a mutual desire to not just serve coffee but also play a part in supporting the coffee community.

Today, they boast five members of staff and offer not just wholesale and retail coffee but also espresso machine maintenance and refurbishment, free barista training, and more. Their customers include restaurants, offices, and of course, coffee shops.

The team behind Xanadu have a great love for coffee, both for the product itself and the people working to produce, roast, and serve it. However, they know that the industry can be frustratingly lacking in transparency. To tackle this, they’re teaming up with iFinca and working to create a more traceable, sustainable, and ethical supply chain.

Tackling the Disconnect 

Randall, who is one of Xanadu’s roasters in addition to being co-owner, describes how the partnership with iFinca first began. “It simply started with trying a really good sample of green…,” he tells us. “But I've heard about the idea of block-chaining coffee from origin for about a year now, so I was excited to meet someone who was working on implementing that.”

His concerns with the coffee supply chain furthered his interest in connecting with farmers through iFinca. “Even I feel disconnected with the farmers sometimes, which is sad,” he says.

“The farmers need us to care about them and their well being. Coffee is in a pretty precarious place, prices are low; they have been low for a few years now and not a lot of young people want to grow it. And these are literally just the most immediate problems facing growers.”

He explains how Xanadu and iFinca have compatible business practices and beliefs, strengthening the partnership. “I would say our company and iFinca both align the most over the idea of transparency. It's something built into the core of our business and is reflected in the free barista classes we offer, the coffee co-op we operate, as well as other aspects of our company.”

Putting It into Practice

Randall was surprised at how informative the iFinca blockchain verification system is. “It's actually a lot more fleshed out than I had thought it would be and contains the entire path from origin, along with contact information about each point of transfer.

“For the end consumer, if they purchase a bag from one of my clients, they see the coffee shop they were just in as well as me, as the roaster; the importer; the mill; and then the farm it came from. Each point is tagged with contact information as well as the price the farmers were paid for the product.”

He values iFinca’s app not only for its support of transparent and ethical practices but also for the value it offers Xanadu’s customers. The Meet the Farmer QR codes represent a simple and efficient way of showcasing sustainable and ethical standards, which is desperately needed.

“I frequently get asked about whether all our coffees are certified Fair Trade and that discussion just can’t be answered thoroughly in less than 30 minutes,” he says. “There are nuances to that answer that can't be easily or quickly answered. Using this app will make that discussion a lot easier to explain, as you can just open it up and show them the entire path the coffee took.”

He stresses, “Any time you can connect end consumers to the producer, it can only be good for the entire product as a whole. We want our consumers to be interested and excited about coffee.”

Looking Toward the Future 

The partnership between iFinca and Xanadu is only just beginning but Randall is already noticing the interest generated. “We are just now testing it and working to get the scan codes on the bags... But the shops I've talked to are excited and more than a few are signing up for the app. I think once people actually see it and how it works, they will want to try it themselves,” he says.

Most importantly for Xanadu is the potential to stick to their community-focused roots. “I feel like, for a lot of roasters and shops, it’s easy to get tunnel vision,” Randall says. “We focus on the immediate problems and tasks of running our businesses, as we should, but utilizing all the tools iFinca provides, there's no reason we can't extend ‘our community’ to the entire chain that provides the product we base our entire lives on.” After all, for Xanadu, supporting the community is their guiding principle.