FUNDAMENTAL #1 - Sourcing


Respect  I’ve spent the better part of two decades buying coffee; I figure I’ve bought well over a billion pounds, and I’ve traveled to over 20 coffee producing countries and visited probably 2,000 farms.  The range of experiences I’ve had, which range from thrilling to terrifying to hilarious to heartbreaking (and that’s not even including the toilet-related incidents) leave me overwhelmed with respect for all the people (25 million plus, worldwide) in the coffee business. 

Perspective Sourcing coffee is a tricky business with lots at risk for everyone in the supply chain, and lots of issues too.  I’m convinced that there isn’t one way for Fundamental or any other company, no matter its size, to fix all the problems in the coffee industry, most especially the ones in producing countries.  The best way to make a difference is to keep learning and keep buying the best coffee available – this is as true for you as a coffee drinker as it is for me as a coffee buyer. 

Sourcing Basics at Fundamental

When it comes to the coffee we buy, we make extraordinary demands on our suppliers in four key areas:

  1. Quality: we only buy coffee that is consistently excellent; this is the single most important thing a coffee company can do to ensure a viable, sustainable business for everyone involved.  
  2. Fairness: we recognize the complexity of the coffee supply chain and work to ensure that everyone who helps get coffee from origin to our roastery is compensated fairly.
  3. Worker welfare: we expect producers to comply with all local health and safety standards, and to have the transparency necessary to prove it.
  4. Environment: we expect everyone in the supply chain to use Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) as appropriate.

Most of the world’s coffee is grown on small or very small farms; each country has a system that moves the coffee through a complex system of farms (large and small,) co-ops, wet and dry mills, exporters’ warehouses, and ultimately, to the port from which it is shipped.

Today, Fundamental is a small company and the coffee we buy comes through a long-established network of coffee growers and the exporters, importers, and brokers – many of whom work together to manage the risk and complexity of moving coffee thousands of miles – who make it possible for us to enjoy great coffee.  We don’t take a position on certification – we buy based on quality and value.  This means we may at times buy certified coffees, but our interest is in promoting good coffee, not certification schemes.  

Please email me at  if you have specific questions about how we buy coffee