US specialty coffee trader acquires failed UK sustainability coffee pioneer

US speciality coffee trader Sustainable Harvest has acquired the contracts and trading team of Twin Trading, the UK-based non profit coffee trader that ceased operations last month.

Formed in 1985, Twin was among the oldest organisations focusing on trading sustainable coffee produced by smallholder farmers in countries such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as pioneering in sustainable and transparent supply chains in nuts and cocoa.

Twin’s insolvency highlights the challenges faced by small independent players in a coffee market increasingly dominated by large retailers and roasters.

“The tremendous concentration of the coffee industry and low prices has made it a very difficult environment for independent enterprises,” said Jorge Cuevas, chief coffee officer for Sustainable Harvest.

Oregan based Sustainable Harvest trades coffee from 17 countries including Rwanda. The trader, founded in 1997, focuses on social responsibility and ethical sourcing. It said one of the attractions of the Twin operations was its strength in African producers such as the DRC, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

It will be taking on Twin’s purchase and sales agreements and its coffee projects, and will be setting up an outpost in the UK. “Where there is challenge there is opportunity,” said Mr Cuevas, adding there was still room for ethically sourced coffee from a wide range of origins in the coffee market.

Kim Ionescu, chief sustainability officer for the US Specialty Coffee Association said: “To see Twin Trading and Sustainable Harvest, two longtime champions of producer-focused coffee trading, join forces is a boon to all who believe in different ways of doing business.”