While green coffee beans can sit around for months Cambodia Email Address in warehouses and ships without going stale, roasted coffee cannot. remembers one big challenge was getting the export license and other paperwork they needed to move the coffee out fast. Nicaraguan authorities were not particularly concerned about roasted coffee’s short shelf life. 13:35 The system was set up to work for a certain type of product like raw coffee. And now we wanted to kind of challenge Cambodia Email Address the system to like, get coffee out quick. Let’s get a quality product out the door. How is that going to work? Kathleen Schalch 13:49 Day after day, Rob, Noushin and Cambodia Email Address their lawyers drove two and a half hours to the capital, Managua, to meet with bureaucrats who could grant them an export license.
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Again and again, they returned empty-handed. Finally, Cambodia Email Address they decided just not to leave. Night fell and the guards were locking the doors, when the boss emerged and finally granted their request. But even when the paperwork was done, the first shipment still took three to four weeks to reach customers in the US—far too long. So they improvised. Noushin Ketabi Cambodia Email Address 14:21 We decided well, for now, we can just hand-carry it in our suitcases to the United States. Rob would get a cheap flight to Houston. And we’d just bring suitcases with bags of our packaged coffee, like ready to take to the post office once we landed. And it was just so Cambodia Email Address silly. We’d roll up to the airport, it would just smell like coffee with lots of questions around what we might have in there.
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Meanwhile, we figured out how to really do it in a way that was Cambodia Email Address sustainable and actually export with cargo planes, versus us carrying things ourselves. But it was one of those moments. It’s like, okay, a year ago I was at a desk in San Francisco, working as a policy analyst and an attorney, and now I’m bringing in bags of coffee in my suitcases. Kathleen Schalch Cambodia Email Address 15:12 It helped that from the beginning, all the growers were on board, eager to learn everything there was to know about roasting, tasting, packaging and shipping coffee. And Noushin, Rob and Will were learning right alongside them. Noushin became one of only 400 Americans to earn a license as a Q grader. Like sommeliers who grade wine, Q graders are expert cuppers Cambodia Email Address trained to taste and judge coffee, and score its attribute.