Lewis Harding is the founder of Coffee Exchange, which seeks to be the ultimate platform for coffee growers and buyers.
Lewis Harding是Coffee Exchange的创始人，该品牌致力于成为咖啡种植者和购买者的终极平台。
Lewis started his business as a coffee roastery, selling to hotels and restaurants and saw a lot of problems with the traditional method of buying coffee: no guarantees in quality, uncertainty of origin and an ever-present question of ethics. Coffee Exchange has just successfully graduated from Batch 14 of Chinaccelerator’s now legendary acceleration program.
He explored buying direct and realised the huge difficulties that farmers have in accessing the markets – farmers needed middlemen, up until, Lewis Harding hopes, now.
His first trip coffee exploration trip was to Rwanda, where he discovered that on average there can be 8 middlemen in the coffee chain. He is critical of the huge amount of problems farmers face, from large buyers controlling the market, low wages, and the extortionate amount of middlemen.
Q. So what is your platform and how does it work?
A: We’re Coffee Exchange, a platform that connects roasters and farmers directly, with a mobile friendly website. We handle all the logistics, packaging, taxes etc. Farmers and roasters just need to logon to the platform, create profiles and start trading, this way we can cut out all the middlemen and ourselves become the ultimate middleman.
答: 我们是咖啡交易所(Coffee Exchange)，这是一个用移动网络将烘焙商和农民直接联系起来的平台。我们负责所有的物流、包装、税务等。农民和烘焙商只需要登录这个平台，创建个人资料，开始交易，这样我们就可以省去所有的中间商，成为最终的中间商。
When you want to sell coffee, you send it to our warehouse where we verify it and store it. We use blockchain to track coffee and have a ledger system so that farmers have a visible history of sales. It means that trust which normally would take years to build can by bypassed with a credit rating system.
I started Coffee Exchange because when I was running my own coffee roastery business in Shanghai, I came across a lot of problem in regards to quality, origin and ethics, and as entrepreneurs this is what we do: identify problems and come up with innovative solutions for it.
Q. What problems are you facing particularly in terms of language or technology barriers?
A. It’s interesting because you imagine all these farmers haven’t got any idea about tech, but they’ve all got smartphones! For coffee growers, translation, doing research and uploading information just isn’t the problem we might imagine it is. Smartphones break down all of the preconceived technology barriers.
Equally, roasters just log on, choose the coffee they want to buy and get it directly without any middlemen. In addition, buyers can keep up their relationships with growers through the platform.
From the outside, people may think coffee is grown by big corporations, but actually the vast majority is grown by independent farmers, around 25 million of them across the world. This fragmentation makes it difficult to negotiate with large coffee buyers.
Q: What benefits does your platform provide?
A: Simply put, Coffee Exchange cuts out all the middlemen and connects growers and buyers directly. Buyers can source coffee from regions they prefer and maintain relationships with local farmers. Growers get a far better price because the middlemen are cut out. I also try to reveal the stories behind the coffee growers, similar to how wine growers show off the heritage of their vineyards.
答: 简而言之，coffee exchange帮助省去了所有的中间商，直接把种植者和购买者联系起来。买家可以从他们喜欢的地区直接采购咖啡，并与当地农民保持关系。由于中间商被排除在外，种植者可以卖出更好的价格。我还试图揭示咖啡种植者背后的故事，就像葡萄酒种植者展示他们葡萄园的遗产一样。
[BEHIND THE STORY]
Q: What was the process of building up Coffee Exchange?
A: My football teammate who’s Rwandan, suggested I go there to understand the market. It’s there where I realised how badly the farmers get treated, and how many middlemen there are. I spend a lot of time going to local farms across the coffee world; Ecuador, Brazil, Kenya, Colombia and so on. In each place I try to understand farmers and their stories, so I know not just the product but the farmers themselves.
[FUTURE OF COFFEE]
Q: What do you see for the future of coffee?
A: The coffee market is only going to get bigger and bigger, by 2050 the estimate is that we’ll need 2-3 times as much coffee as now, with emerging coffee markets like India, China etc. Most of the land where coffee is grown mountainous and forested, so we have to be very careful that the coffee industry doesn’t encourage farmers to go in and just rip up rainforest areas – additionally, with climate change, we’ll have to be going up higher to find more fertile and remote land. We hope that Coffee Exchange’s stories and higher prices can somehow circumvent demand for unsustainably grown coffee whilst giving farmers less reason to tear up fragile ecosystems.
答: 咖啡市场将会越来越大。据估计，到2050年，随着印度、中国等新兴咖啡市场的出现，我们的咖啡需求量将是现在的2-3倍。大部分种植咖啡的土地都是山区和森林，所以我们必须非常小心，咖啡行业并不是鼓励农民去破坏雨林地区。此外，随着气候变化，我们必须爬地更高，去寻找更多肥沃遥远的土地。我们希望Coffee Exchange的故事和更高的价格能够在某种程度上规避对不可持续种植的咖啡的需求，同时减少农民去破坏脆弱生态系统。
Q: Why are some coffee so cheap and how can they be so cheap?
A: Cheap coffee is possible because large companies have so much buying power; that buying power means that they can get low prices but also that they can exclude growers if they want. I think not everyone prefers to drink commercial coffee such as Starbucks and Luckin coffee.
As a business, we’re generally looking at premium coffees. Our customers tend to be smaller, with customers who are interested in unique or exotic coffees.
Q: How did going through Chinaccelerators acceleration process help you and Coffee Exchange?
问：Chinaccelerator 怎么帮你和Coffee Exchange发展？
Mentors and connections; we were able to get years of experience from people who have built businesses in China and globally. It’s saved us money & time from what would’ve have been trial and error processes. We’ve also been able to access a lot of VCs and angel investors. Chinaccelerator is also an ongoing community so we are able to continually seek advice and guidance. Overall, we had a great experience with SOSV and Chinaccelerator.
导师和联系; 我们能够在中国和全球建立业务的人们之间获得多年的经验。 这可以节省我们试错的金钱和时间。我们也可以访问很多风投和天使投资者。 中国加速器也是一个持续发展的社区，因此我们能够不断寻求建议和指导。 总的来说，我们在SOSV和Chinaccelerator 投资公司方面有着丰富的经验。