We sat down with Jolene Zehnder from the Novus Coffee Imports Team, 2021 PRF Host Sponsor, to talk more about the company and their work in the Honduran coffee sector. Here’s what they had to say.
Novus Coffee Imports is a division of Mercon Coffee Group that specializes in sourcing micro-lot, estate-grown, and other premium coffees from a network of smallholder producers.
Novus offers small and medium-size roasters the opportunity to establish direct relationships with producers. Through a number of educational and consultancy programs, they help drive impact for coffee businesses across the supply chain.
WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY’S ROLE IN THE COFFEE INDUSTRY?
Novus is the specialty arm of Mercon. Mercon is fully integrated into all levels of the supply chain, from farmer support and capital funding to logistics and export, and all the way through full-service roaster support.
Mercon works tirelessly to ensure the sustainability of the supply chain, economically, environmentally, and socially, in coffee-growing communities across the world.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FROM A ROASTER WHEN ONE VISITS YOU AS PART OF AN ORIGIN TRIP?
We expect to successfully engage with our roasters visiting Honduras, and foster long-term relationships between roasters and producers.
WHAT DO THE TERMS TRACEABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY MEAN FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION?
For Novus and Mercon, traceability means more than just knowing which coffee came from which farm. It is a meticulous approach to our coffee; not just about knowing where the coffee comes from, but also understanding the farm at an intimate level.
Our agronomists work with our partner farmers and have a deep understanding of the health and vitality of each farm, from soil composition to yield and to access to capital. Transparency for Novus and Mercon means meeting each roaster’s needs for information in an individual and thoughtful way. As meticulous data collectors, we value the trust our farmers have placed in our company to protect their information.
HOW DO YOU CALCULATE THE VALUE OF A COFFEE?
Valuing coffee is complex. It involves not just the amount paid to the farmer at harvest, but also the support and services provided to both the farmer and community throughout the entire year.
Our relationships with farmers are long-term, and often span over generations. We believe in long-term investment in farms and their surrounding communities.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND CHALLENGES OF EXPORTING GREEN COFFEE FROM HONDURAS?
Our greatest advantage exporting our green coffee in Honduras is the people. We have an amazingly talented, professional, and caring team in the country.
The biggest challenge for coffee in Honduras is the strength of intermediaries and how they damage coffee. This also presents a problem for traceability. That is why our LIFT program and working directly with producers is so essential.
WHAT HONDURAN COFFEE ARE YOU EXCITED TO OFFER IN MARCH 2021?
We are incredibly excited to offer the coffees from our LIFT farms. The LIFT farms represent a long-term commitment to our farmers and their communities. Each year, with investment in training and resources, the coffees from our LIFT program surpass our wildest expectations.
We are also excited to share the high-quality microlots that come from several farms in western Honduras. We are especially excited to share their honey and natural processed coffees.
Photo credit: Novus Coffee Imports