Specialty Coffee

Increased Quality, Increased Incomes for Smallholder Farmers

Behind petroleum, coffee is the world’s second most traded commodity and the second largest export earner for many developing countries.

The global coffee market is divided between the “C” (commodity) market and the highly diverse specialty market. The specialty market is the focus of ACDI/VOCA’s coffee development efforts because it offers higher margins and enables farmers to differentiate their product through origin and flavor.

There is a tremendous opportunity for coffee farmers to access these markets because consumer demand continues to grow for higher-quality, sustainably produced coffee. Consumers also have increased interest in relationships with those who produce this much-appreciated product.

Stronger Coffee Value Chains

ACDI/VOCA works with numerous partners across the coffee value chain to address constraints and to enable smallholders to access specialty markets, realizing higher incomes and a better way of life. These partners include producer groups, government entities, coffee experts, trade groups, major buyers and roasters, and others throughout the global coffee industry.

Our work has had extraordinary significance in such important coffee-producing nations as Colombia and Ethiopia, where it is no exaggeration to say that ACDI/VOCA’s long-term work with cooperatives and national coffee entities has helped to transform the coffee industries.

Smallholder Cooperatives and Associations

While there is no all-purpose formula for success, producers must be willing to form groups, and they must actively seek knowledge of their crop and its market. Most importantly, coffee farmers must understand the importance of quality and know what its key elements are.

ACDI/VOCA assists interested producers in forming cooperatives and associations, or similar producer-based organizations, and in hiring experts to help them improve production and processing; purchase inputs in bulk and otherwise act in a competitive, businesslike manner; and link to international markets to get the full value of their production.

Helping Farmers to Meet Market Demands

ACDI/VOCA helps cooperatives upgrade or determine if they need revised government policies, financing, or third-party certification. We also provide technical assistance, advise on and help procure new infrastructure and equipment, and develop quality protocols that often begin with training in “cupping,” or critical tasting.

Our programs are carefully designed to address the greatest needs and constraints. These efforts always begin with the market and work backwards to ensure farmers are investing their time and resources in activities that the market will reward.

In this way, ACDI/VOCA has helped producers add value to their crop, become business savvy, and achieve success in the global marketplace.

Climate Change

ACDI/VOCA helps farmers address climate change through adaptation and mitigation. Coffee communities in Latin America have seen the devastating effects of climate change with the spread of coffee leaf rust. The widespread effects demonstrate the importance of crop diversification, access to information through producer organizations, and the ability to manage risk. Learn more about our approach to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

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