Ocean College & Bonaverde Collaborate
Ocean College and Bonaverde have teamed up to present a truly unique single origin Catuai variety coffee from Don Eli's Finca La Pastora farm in Costa Rica. Hand harvested, processed, sorted & graded by the enthusiastic students at Ocean College, this is a rare opportunity to experience some truly crop-to-cup coffee.
So Who Are Ocean College?
Ocean College is a practical eduction-centric school which offers a holistic alternative study model to the traditional schooling system in Germany. Oh yeah, and it’s also literally taught from the decks of a fully functioning sailing ship. It’s essentially a semester abroad for high school students as they travel from Europe to the Caribbean.
Taking a group of lucky students on a sailing expedition to Costa Rica as part of a curriculum — we know what you’re thinking: “Palm trees, resorts and the occasional guided tour through the city — sounds like paradise, not school!”
You couldn’t be further from reality!
The combination of the more familiar high school standard subjects (such as mathematics, language), combined with a more hands-on practical education (team work in sailing, cleaning), offers some very tangible real-life benefits to its students. And it’s far from easy, as much of the experience is rather gruelling, compared to the world-shielding bubble of classroom based study environment. It’s also worth noting the practical curriculum also has a strong focus on sustainability, and teaches all its content in-line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept:
The Ocean College initiated a project with Bonaverde as part of their practical education module. As they were travelling to South America, they wanted to develop an exciting new experience, and offer their students real insights into sustainable industry practices, and hence developed a trade project. It focused on their own underlining philosophy: students should see the entire process within and around the supply chain in any industry, creating unique and invaluable insight and learnings for them to apply in a real life application.
The project specifically entailed their stay in Costa Rica, where the students would under professional instructions and guidance, undertake a project in which they harvested coffee, sailing it back to Germany to remain carbon neutral, storing suitably on the boat in time for resale. Specifically, to be distributed to “key accounts" – and wouldn’t you believe it, one of those key accounts just so happened to be Bonaverde!
Learning About the Coffee Industry, First Hand:
Firstly, let’s take a quick step back, and recall the oft-quoted statistic that Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world (second only to oil). Let it sink in — especially when you consider that sugar is the seventh most traded, and sugar’s in EVERYTHING!
And yet, somehow the industry supply chain is as murky as the darkest of coffee brews. It’s certainly a hallmark of those highest traded global commodities. It is our mission at BV to dispel misperception, and shine the light on the coffee industry as a whole.
Our blog aids us in achieving our mission too, with our posts aiming to elucidate on industry relevant topics, such as Fair Trade vs Direct Trade, learning more about and supporting single-origin farmers in our Meet the Farmer series, or interviews with like-minded sustainability focused companies.
With this in mind, and as Ocean College’s sustainability focused value-system being so harmonious with that of Bonaverde’s made their proposed partnership a “no-brainer”.
Time to Hit the High Seas!
So, here documents our bright-eyed students' voyage following the historic trade-wind routes leading to Costa Rica. Having reached their destination of Finca La Pastora plantation in Costa Rica via open-deck truck along winding dusty roads, the students spent the next weeks fully immersing themselves in the realities of the daily coffee farming ecosystem: forging relationships with the growers, learning equally about the crop and the culture, and the impact fluctuations the environment and industry alike has on it. They were very much involved in the regime of farm life and community, hand-picking the ripe coffee cherries for a harvest season, and learning a traditional method of manually sorting and grading by sight and touch!
From there they roasted a sample of their harvest and experienced first hand the nuances surrounding flavour impacting variables such as providence, cultivar and environment affected the taste and quality of their new crop.
One can only imagine how eye-opening this would have been (or bean, if you will excuse the pun!). After harvesting was complete, the students organised and participated in transporting the product to their boat, and sailed all the way back to Germany.
It was far from smooth sailing, as our Head of Roasting Kike candidly elaborates.
The Reality of Coffee Logistics
The oversight surrounding the role played by coffee exporters aside, Ocean College were faced with additional port-side aspect of coffee business realities: import and distribution. Organising logistics for docking in Germany, account management, pricing strategy, then finally getting it to the Coffee Changers (that's you!)
This, at least here at Bonaverde has amazed us. We know the complexity of the supply chain and what has been done is no small victory. Trust us -- it's a constant battle, and took a lot of learning on our behalf.
It’s not just what the curriculum from Ocean College offers that’s intriguing, but the level of exposure to industry and all vital components which gives the students real-life application of their education on social responsibility in business and how transform theory into practice. It was a truly rare first hand experience, that far too few people are aware of.
We now have these amazing green coffee beans in our fulfilment centre all thanks to the students at Ocean College. Not to worry, they will be online soon enough, and we'll let you know (here's a sneak peek tasting!) And what about the Farmer you say?! Don’t worry, you will learn about them soon enough in our recurring Meet the Farmer’s series.
Still want to learn more? Get your sustainable business ‘fix’ and watch our interview with Sustainnovation
As always, all the best from Berlin,