The USAID Hub and its grantee African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) supported a U.S buyer mission to Kenya and Ethiopia in early February. The buyers experienced the Kenyan and Ethiopian coffee-supply chain firsthand, cupped prize-winning coffee and established relationships with the coffee producers and exporters. As a result of the mission, U.S. coffee buyers linked with coffee producers from four Ethiopian companies and nine Kenyan companies for a potential sales value of $437,300.
“We have been buying coffee from Kenya for many years, although it has only been in the past three years that we have been able to source our first Kenyan coffee directly from a visit. After this visit I am even more optimistic my company will be able to establish even deeper direct linkages between us and Kenyan coffee growers, which is something I'm very excited for, as the coffees from Kenya are among my and my customer's most memorable cups of coffee. We want to forge long-term relationships from quality farmers, which is much easier to do thanks to the opportunity USAID has provided,” said Aaron Blanco, Owner of The Brown Coffee Co.
The buyers also had the opportunity to visit the Nairobi Coffee Exchange and experience a Kenyan coffee auction firsthand.
“I could not have been more impressed with the trip and the opportunities it will allow me and Global Coffee Trading. We will definitely be doing much more business out of Kenya, four containers this year to start and I'm sure it will grow from there. The Nairobi Coffee Exchange is something that is very complex and difficult to understand and because of this trip I feel like I finally have a grasp on it. It's very impressive! I really appreciate this experience and opportunity. It has strengthened relationships in a way that just can't be done over email,” said Alice Hineline .
While in Ethiopia the buyers had the opportunity to sample many Ethiopian coffees and visit several coffee plantations, including Hambela, one of the largest coffee farms in the country.
“The trip to Ethiopia was my first! So amazing to see that huge country and appreciate forest organic coffee,” said Ruth Church President, Artisan Coffee Imports
Buyer missions like this connect U.S. buyers with producers, facilitating increased exports between East African countries and the U.S.