Coffee Origin Tour

How to Plan a Coffee Origin Tour

Why Coffee Origin Tours?

Specialty coffee buyers visit the communities and estates where coffee is farmed in coffee-producing nations, known within the industry as coffee origins.

Craig and Andrew (buyers) pose with Nishant (producer) on a coffee origin tour to India

The purpose of these trips is to:

  • locate and sample coffees and sources of supply
  • discuss quality goals, and flavor preferences with coffee producers as part of an ongoing relationship for trade;
  • determine production quantities and negotiate pricing for upcoming harvest seasons, and;
  • learn about, and maintain social contact with the people and places where their coffees originate.

Trips occur each year or more often, sometimes at the beginning of each season. This is to plan orders for critical or competitive supply origins, or to discuss pricing and credit arrangements. Coffee buying trips are most often made at the time of harvest when practical decisions are made after tasting early lot samples.

Frequent communication and the development of beneficial trade relationships over several harvest seasons. It also leads to mutual respect and friendships between buyers and sellers. Relationships reduce the cost of marketing, the cost of purchasing, and increase efficiency of communication, and lower risks for both parties.

For the buyer, loyalty from a seller provides early access to the best quality coffees each season and assurance that contracted orders are shipped as requested. For the seller, the relationship provides a predictable market for at agreed price premiums that are higher than anonymous transactions. These are often with a payment structure designed to meet organizational needs of the seller. In the event of unexpected problems, trading partners with strong relationships are more likely to find an fair solution. Sometimes at a short-term loss to one or both parties, rather than walk away from a transaction, damaging years of goodwill.

A coffee origin tour is often a first introduction for coffee buyers considering purchases from a producing origin. Over time, origin tours facilitate he development of long-term relationships with coffee producers.

The specialty coffee industry is built on the principle that every coffee is unique. Coffee origin trips support the specialty concept by demonstrating what makes each place special.

What is a Coffee Origin Tour?

A coffee origin tour is a guided trip taken by coffee buyers (both importers and end-user roaster/retailers) for approximately one week to coffee producing regions. Tours are organized by producer associations, exporters from producing nations, or sometimes by coffee importers from consuming nations. They are tailored to the specific interests of each traveling group. Trips designed for buyers seeking to buy within a season are conducted during the harvest so that specific information about quality and lot availability is known, and samples may be tasted while on-location.

The experience of an origin tour is both educational and rewarding for the buyer:

  • providing access to remote smallholder farming communities that are otherwise difficult to contact and reach as a solo traveler unfamiliar with the location and language.
  • supplying practical business information about coffees available for export, production processes and conditions unique to a specific region.
  • encouraging the development of interpersonal relationships with farmers and exporters in a low-pressure environment, and
  • delivering a meaningful firsthand experience that leads to effective storytelling in consumer marketing and develops a deep emotional connection with the place.

David enjoys a chat with a village elder in a coffee farming community

The experience of an origin tour is also educational and rewarding for the coffee producer:

  • providing access to high value consumer markets that are otherwise difficult to reach and navigate,
  • delivering qualified and motivated buyers to his or her doorstep,
  • facilitating communication with buyers, so that sellers understand the needs of a market and so buyers understand the needs of their sellers.

Setting Goals for the Activity

Planning for the coffee origin tour should begin at least one year in advance. There are many strategic decisions that must be made and logistics to organize. Time must be allowed to advertise and invite travelers on the trip. Some may already have commitments if approached with less than a few months’ notice.

Beginning the planning effort with any less time limits your audience of travelers. It also increases the likelihood of facing problems on the trip. When in doubt, do not rush to begin an activity this season. The trip will be more effective if more time is invested into creating a thoughtful program.

To define a program agenda, and invite or attract travelers on a tour, the host organization must clearly define its purpose and goals. “Selling more coffee to international buyers,” is too broad an goal and requires more detail.

Answer the following questions while designing the trip:

  • Is coffee available for sale in the current season? If so, how much, what qualities, and when? This will help to decide if the goal is to locate short term buyers interested in purchasing coffees for immediate shipment, or those who need time to integrate the origin into a company’s buying plan. The latter may not result in an immediate return on investment for the activity. It may prove more valuable over future years of beneficial trade.
  • What is the best time of year? When are new harvest samples ready to cup? When is the ideal time for seller and buyer to reach an agreement for the new crop year? Are there other events or origin programs that may conflict? Coffee traders travel often and may have other existing plans. Before advertising the dates of travel, confirm availability with participants who may join.
  • Who is the ideal customer for the available coffees? (e.g. roaster or importer, from an industry segment ranging from commodity quality, through specialty, to rare and distinctive coffees, from a specific country or world region, buys single bags, palettes, or container volumes?) Matching interests of the buyer to the needs of a host organization is one of the most critical element of planning an origin tour. Understanding the origin quality and price offerings, as well as how coffees are available for shipment will determine who is interested to buy. For example, small, boutique roasters are not likely to buy full container commodity coffees. Small businesses thrive in the marketplace by offering high quality coffees. As small businesses, they can only commit to small shipments, meaning that air freight or consolidation of coffee orders through specialty importers is often necessary to serve these customers. Large multinational roasting businesses or high-volume traders may be unable to justify buying small lots.
  • What activities or destinations may be offered travelers that add value? (cupping new crop samples, observing farming and practices, experiencing cultural sites and activities, meeting and strengthening relationships with producers). Coffee is the main feature, but should not be the sole activity of an origin tour. In most cases, cupping sessions performed at an importer’s facility to provide a more relevant assessment. What the buyer gains from visiting are all those things that cannot be experienced from the coffee alone. Experiencing the authentic culture of a place, meeting its people, and learning the story of those responsible for its coffee. The trip should balance business interests with the opportunity to experience those things that make a place unique and memorable. The people, food, sights, history, and culture are all important. Include time for travelers and farmers to speak through facilitated activities. These opportunities lead to better understanding between visitor and host.

Ko Ko Win leads a discussion between representatives of 20 farming communities and a visiting group on a coffee origin tour

  • What is the desired result and how is success measured? The interests of each origin are unique: is the region or host seeking to build a brand image? Is there an emphasis on current year sales? Are there existing trade relationships that need to be strengthened? To plan the event and measure its success, goals must be clearly defined in as much detail as possible. Chose relevant metrics. For example, tour or farmer participation, number of business transactions, value of business transactions, increased price premiums, visitor and farmer exit surveys, media articles and impressions. Any may be used to measure success and plan for future events.
  • Who is the leader in charge of the event team and communication with the travelers? A tour director responsible for the activity must be in charge of planning, communication with host(s) and travelers. Trips spanning a large farming region can involve dozens of local hosts, funding or sponsor agencies, and complex itineraries. One point of contact must be in charge of the entire trip. The same person should be the point-of-contact for travelers and producers to provide an efficient, cohesive experience. The leader will keep all stakeholders informed during planning and throughout the trip. Plans change, obstacles and delays are common in coffee producing nations, so it is additionally the responsibility of the team leader to make executive decisions to keep things moving along.
  • After the origin trip, what are the next steps and who is responsible to take action? As with most marketing activities, origin tours are most effective when made a part of an annual marketing and communications calendar. There should be routine communication leading up to and through the tour, and follow-up immediately after. Within the host organization, a stakeholder must thank tour participants, follow-up with any requested samples, and responding to questions. Survey participants to understand what elements of the tour were effective, and what may be changed for later years to improve.

Some may find that an origin tour is not the appropriate activity to reach the goals of the host, or that the trip should be delayed to a later season. That’s okay. Consider other marketing activities that may be better suited to the situation, like participation at an international coffee trade show event. It is always better to cancel or delay an origin tour, rather than risk failing to meet expectation. A bad experience is more damaging to the host entity’s market reputation than no experience at all.

Inviting Participants

A wide range of travelers may express interest in participating on an origin tour. Some may be professional green coffee buyers representing importing companies, or roasters seeking new source of supply. Others may be coffee retailers that want to learn more about how and where coffee is grown. Others still may be consumer coffee enthusiasts in search of an ecotourism holiday. Each will have different goals for participating on a tour. Defining the goals of the trip is critical to avoid miscommunication and potential disappointment for all.

Selecting an Audience

Tours may be private, with invitation-only participation, or open to the public as an advertised event. Private tours offer the most control over the guest list of travelers. They are less likely to be for-profit activities. The goal of a private tour is trade. The cost of the activity is often shared between traveler and host. Or, it is sometimes sponsored in total by the host as an investment in the business relationship.

Private tour hosts may invite:

  • specific individuals that are important customers or potential new customers for the host or origin.
  • a range of employees from one specific company, to broaden organizational knowledge of the producing origin.
  • roasting and retail end-users of green coffee that share buying relationships or buy coffee through one importer.
  • representatives from companies in high value consuming regions of the world or targeted markets for green coffee sale, or
  • anyone else who is influential to advance the host’s interests.

Public tours may be open for participation from any interested party. These are sometimes for-profit activities for the trip organizer, charging a fee for each traveler. Control of the guest list for a publicly advertised tour is limited, but can be targeted to audience segments, for example, by:

  • selecting specific outlets to advertise the event (coffee trade media, or regionally-focused publications).
  • through targeted keyword advertising on search engines or social media, or
  • foreign language advertising targeting regional buyers. (e.g. only Japanese, Korean or Mandarin speakers if seeking marketing exposure in Asian coffee markets)

The broader public announcements are made about the trip, the larger your potential group of travelers. At the same time, there is less control over the makeup of that group. Inviting a large group of less relevant travelers, may be counterproductive to the host’s goals.

Job Function and Role on the Tour

The job role of the traveler and function of his or her company is an important consideration when developing an invitation list. Invite those who perform a role that compliments your goals for the event. Directors of coffee or green coffee buyers are an obvious company function that is relevant to the interests of coffee sellers. Other personnel may assist by specifying buying activity from a new region or creating new consumer products.

Reputation is a guidepost of credibility in the coffee industry. Including distinguished industry personalities on a tour may strengthen the brand image of an origin. It may also increase effectiveness of the tour as a marketing activity. Invite leaders the industry looks to for guidance. Consider visible heads of respected coffee businesses, coffee champions of competitions, volunteer leadership (e.g. SCA Roasters Guild, Sustainability Council, etc.).

Costs and Fees

There is no one way that all origin tours are funded, and the host maintains total flexibility on the best way to finance each element of a trip. The following three origin trip fee structures are common within the coffee industry, but the host may adapt any that best suits its purpose. Regardless of the structure selected, it is important to communicate which expenses each party is responsible to pay, and when.

Customary Fee Structure

Customarily, origin trip costs are shared between seller and buyer. Sellers (e.g. export associations, private estates, producer groups, exporter/importers, or auction events) prepay the cost of in-country accommodations, meals, and ground transportation at the host’s expense. The traveler (buyer) is responsible to pay for his or her own airfare to a designated international airport within the host country.

In-country costs are included for prospective buyers both as a courtesy, but also as a matter of convenience. When transporting groups of travelers, the time necessary to pay for hotels, meals, or transportation quickly multiplies, so advance arrangement is recommended.

It is not unusual for in-country travel costs to be supported by sponsors. Sponsors may be local private businesses, outside donor aid organizations, or government.

Development Aid Fee Structure

International airfare may be paid by the host organization when the origin is underdeveloped. This structure is found where the export country has limited immediate commercial appeal for international visitors. It may also occur when visitors are asked to perform significant services (e.g. lead training courses) benefitting the host origin on the trip. The host may include a per diem for unreimbursed travel expenses and/or an honorarium as compensation for the work performed. Funding for these aid activities is provided by government or a donor organizations. A return on the investment comes from new economic activity or skills that improve competitiveness.

Traveler-paid Fee Structure (For-Profit Event)

When the origin tour is being run as a for-profit activity or intended to benefit the host organization (i.e. charitable contribution), travelers may be asked to pay a lump sum fee to the host in advance of travel. He or she is also responsible for making international travel arrangements. The fee includes costs for all domestic travel (ground transportation, domestic flights), meals, and lodging. There is sometimes also an additional portion intended as profit for the organizer. The host entity will act as a tour guide, organizing and leading all elements of the trip.

An event entirely funded by visitors may sound appealing, but consider a possible negative impact on future business. It is true that green coffee buyers are not motivated by the promise of cost reimbursement to travel. However, a traveler-funded trip is likely to be open to a wider range of participants to maximize income. This means precious time invested into conducting the tour may be spent catering to tourists, not industry professionals.

When determining the fee structure, always remember to consider the questions mentioned at the beginning of this article: “who is our ideal customer,” and “how is success measured for this activity,” as guides to aid in the decision.

Group Balance

Job function and company suitability as a customer is not the only factor when deciding who to invite on a tour. Consider that during the trip, ten or so individuals will be traveling in close contact for a week or more, and very far from home. We are all human, when placed under stress, lacking sleep and food, may become emotional or confrontational. To mitigate potential conflicts between travelers, pay attention to the balance of each group. Strive to achieve balance among the group by gender, geography or culture, language. When possible, social or business interests. Avoid enrolling one single traveler isolated from the rest. If the situation arises, be sure that the group leader facilitates his or her interaction with the rest. Remember that the goal of a coffee origin tour is to provide a positive experience. Social interaction with other group members is a large part of that experience.

Origin tour travelers pose for a photo before departing

Invitations, Promotion, Advertisements

New events need long lead times of notice to attract participation. Invitations to take part on a coffee origin tour should be sent no less than three months in advance of the first date of travel. Experienced green coffee buyers and other coffee industry professionals plan busy travel schedules a year in advance. Adding a new origin or travel activity to an already full annual itinerary requires effort and careful planning to execute. To build awareness of an upcoming activity, consider announcing its dates or the intent to conduct the trip a year or more in advance. This may be done before a final itinerary is set.

Personal Invitations

Personal, direct, and relevant invitations are the most effective. Determine the goals of your trip and with a basic understanding of the coffee buying community. Next, select individuals who may benefit from participation in the event. Write by email or call him or her to describe the coffee origin tour plan (as best as is known) and determine interest as a possible participant. This is also a good opportunity to ask for referrals to others that may also be appropriate to join. For example, if inviting a green coffee importer, ask which of that company’s clients may be suitable to additionally join.

Targeted Mailings

To reach a larger relevant audience, email invitations may be sent to customer lists, or those who have expressed interest in the past. Lists may include other members of professional organizations, like the SCA Roasters’ Guild. To avoid sending unwanted commercial solicitations (spam), email lists should be selected carefully and reviewed to determine suitability. As with the above personal invitations, the goal is to invite those who reasonably have a relevant interest in the event. If uncertain about any recipient on the list, exclude him or her from the list.

Trade Media Advertisements

Paid advertisement in print trade publications like Roast Magazine, STiR, Fresh Cup, or Global Coffee Report, or online publications Daily Coffee News, or Perfect Daily Grind, will help to raise awareness among a larger audience of industry professionals. This approach is optimal when the origin is seeking access to a new geographic market or niche. For best results, print artwork should be prepared no less than three months ahead of the date of publication. Significant advance planning is required. Electronic advertisements are a good alternative when available time for implementation is short or if changes to published details are expected. Consider involving your advertising partner as a sponsor of the event. This may be done by providing the publication complimentary participation or exclusive information in exchange for coverage of the activity.

Social Media

Social media offers a low-cost way of reaching a global audience instantly and with greater depth than print media. However, these messages may reach a wider audience of consumers than is appropriate to invite. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide an opportunity for the origin host announce trip plans. Also to post stories and updates from the event to build a global following. They also engage a broad audience year-round as part of the origin’s larger marketing and communications plan.

Media Participants

Media tours designed for promotional purposes are commonplace in the public relations trade. Inclusion of a trade journalist allows the stories of a small group of coffee professionals to be shared industry wide. The specialty coffee industry has a small number of trade media outlets to choose from.

The cost of travel sponsorship for one or two trade journalists is far less expensive than any comparable amount of advertising. Being editorial articles, some control of content may be lost but these are offset by gains in the credibility of content written. The host should agree on terms of an editorial article (editing / final approval, photos, word count and publish issue/date) at the time of securing the journalist to take part. Trade publications have flexibility on these terms, consumer media or established news media, less so.

Travel Itinerary

The itinerary of any coffee origin tour should focus on commercial activities that provide access to sources, evaluation of coffees available for trade, and information that can be used to market the coffees in a consuming country. Travelers are investing business resources to participate and expect a return. This should not be without cultural experiences in the country. The culture of each coffee producing origin is what helps to make it unique. Culture makes coffee marketable, so cultural activities on the tour are important. Design activities that promote interaction with the people and experience the place.

Farmers greet a visiting origin tour in ceremonial dress

Duration

The duration of a coffee origin tour is generally five-to-seven days, but varies depending on the size and remoteness of the location. As a rule of thumb, one week including visitor travel time, is a reasonable timeframe. A week is more accessible to busy professionals than trips lasting ten days or longer.

Arrivals

Travelers should be greeted at the arrival airport by a member of the host organization or a driver holding a clearly marked sign. Origin tour participants have traveled several hours, sometimes many days to reach the destination. They will be tired, disoriented, and unfamiliar with the language, and customs. It is in the host’s best interest to make the arrival as comfortable and effortless as possible for the traveler.

  • Driver or project representative waiting for pickup, speaking the same language as the traveler if possible.
  • Be prepared to assist the traveler with any issues at customs or immigration upon arrival.
  • Assist the traveler to buy water or food on arrival, get a SIM card for voice/data communications, exchange money to local currency.
  • Provide a briefing package of information about the week ahead. Include a schedule of activities, contact information for organizers, and any relevant security information.

Program

The daily program of a coffee origin tour should begin at a reasonable morning hour (08:00) and extend to an early evening hour (18:00), as would a normal work day. It may be necessary to begin very early or end late on some days, but these occurrences should be limited to one or two days during the trip. Evening events should be optional, with two or three hosted dinners available during the week. Travelers often need time to check-in with their businesses and families, or may prefer to skip some activities in favor of a quiet evening. Some late-night dinner parties are appropriate, but should be kept to a few – once or twice throughout the duration of the trip.

The first morning after arrival should include a group briefing for host and participants to be introduced to each other. This is a one- to two-hour meeting where introductions are exchanged. It will include an overview of the country, industry, culture, and daily agenda. Time is allowed for any questions from participants.

Sample welcome briefing document and agenda

Each morning, coffees should be served with breakfast. These should be from the regions or communities/estates visited on the trip. Do not allow coffee service to be an afterthought or rely on hotels or F&B providers to serve coffee. Carry fresh roasted coffee sufficient for the needs of the group. Include grinding equipment, brewing equipment, water, and cups. Bring ample coffee best representing the origin to consume each day.

There should be cupping activities on all, or most mornings. Cupping sessions may include of whatever number of samples are available. In some origins, this may be two dozen or more samples representing available lots. In others, it may be six or less samples per day, representative of the regions visited on the trip.

Where possible, the cupping environment and procedures should conform with international standards. Get as close as is reasonable achievable. Sample coffees that are available for sale (lot samples), or generally indicative of the quality of each region or farming group (type samples, if offseason). Draw a connection with the coffees sampled and the places visited on the trip. If possible, cup coffees from the farms or regions visited that day. Include participation from the region’s farmers, where practical. It is helpful to be aware of what coffees are available for sale (or if not, when) and the origin or seller of each coffee in as much detail as possible.

Field cupping at origin

Visit farming communities, estates, and processing facilities throughout the local region. It is important to include time for meeting and communication between the farmers/exporters, and participants on the tour. Each is likely to have questions of the other, which leads to better understanding between buyer and seller, and more productive trade. Activities that provide a meaningful and authentic experience most successful in post-trip surveys. Stops at cultural landmarks or convenient tourist attractions, are encouraged so long as they do not interrupt coffee business activities. The mix of culture and business events on each coffee origin trip will vary based on location and goal. Ss a guideline, tourist activities should be a brief recess from business activities, not the focus. It is reasonable to allow for some extra private time to explore or shop for souvenirs before departure.

  • Keep program hours to between 08:00 and 18:00 each day, and limit long stretches of travel, early starts and late evenings.
  • Plan coffee activities, including cupping, for each morning. Prepare coffee for the group each morning and use the opportunity to educate travelers on a region or elements of the program.
  • Include farmers/exporters in the program. Allow for ample time for meetings and exchange of information between visitors and farmers. Ask that gift giving be minimized, where typical of local customs.

A small community of farmers joins in discussion with visiting international coffee buyers

Food and water

Meals should be served at normal meal times in the morning, afternoons, and evenings. Coffee origin tour visitors prefer typical meals served within a region. Special arrangements to serve “Western-style” meals or other foods that travelers eat at home is not necessary. Do ask if any travelers have dietary restrictions (customary, religious, or medical) that may need special advance arrangements at meal stops.

Potable water should be plentiful and available at all times during the trip. Bottled water should be available at all rest stops and destinations, during car trips, and at lodging accommodations. Carry extra water necessary for coffee brewing and any remote meal preparation.

Accommodations

Modern, international business hotels are recommended for nights spent in arrival/departure cities. Urban lodging should be clean and include air conditioning, and other modern conveniences. Field accommodations should be the best available, noting that most coffee producing communities are lacking business hotels. It is important where facilities not meeting Western standards are not available to notify the travelers in advance. Travelers may choose to bring bedding, or other items like mosquito netting if made aware of the expected conditions.

Ground transportation

A hired van collects coffee origin trip travelers at the airport

Traveling long distances by car or bus along poorly maintained roads should be kept to a minimum. The trip route should be planned for efficient to limit the number of ground transportation hours necessary. When not possible, reasonable accommodations should be made so that travelers are comfortable. High quality vehicles with enough space for attendees are preferred. Expect no more than three persons plus one driver per ordinary passenger vehicle, or a larger hire car or coach with ample excess seats. All vehicles should have an operable seatbelt for each occupant.

Communications and Translation

Collect the email addresses and mobile phone numbers of all travelers prior to departure. This is to to stay in contact while traveling to the coffee origin tour country. If mobile phone service is available within the tour country, distribute local SIM cards with data service. This may not be necessary if international roaming agreements allow for the travelers to use his or her own phones. Setup a WhatsApp or other social network chat group so that all can stay in constant contact (e.g. between cars while on the road) and also share photos.

A translator (or translators) may be required to facilitate communication between the visitors and coffee producers. Any translator should be familiar with coffee technical (harvest, processing) and sensory terminology to avoid miscommunication.

Be certain to document the trip. This may include the participation of a staff journalist. Otherwise enlist the cooperation of travelers to provide photos and/or of each stop and activity. Coverage of the event may be a future editorial promotional opportunity for the coffee origin. It may assist to enlist future travelers or outside funding to support later trips.

Emergencies and Security

Reasonable security precautions should be taken for each trip, as are appropriate for each region. As necessary, security contractors should escort the trip through dangerous environments. Vehicles should not travel at night or in poor weather conditions. The agenda should be changed in the event of poor road conditions, weather, public disturbances, or any other factor that may jeopardize the safety of the travel group. It is important that tour leaders stay in routine communication with drivers and participants to be informed of any changing conditions. For larger groups, institute a ‘buddy system’ where two people are paired and told to stay together for safety and to notify the group if one is mission. Count your participants before leaving each rest stop so that no one is left behind.

Prepare an emergency first aid kit with supplies and medicines for simple injuries and illnesses. Develop a communications and logistics plan to transport participants to medical facilities, in the unlikely event of injury, illness, or natural disaster. Serious conditions may need medical evacuation to a neighboring country for treatment. Tell participants to enroll in a travel medical insurance program that includes evacuation coverage. These policies are inexpensive and an ordinary contingency for those who frequently travel to developing nations.

In Summary

Organizing a coffee origin tour is a challenging and detail-oriented task. When planned thoughtfully it can be an effective export market tool in the toolkit of coffee producing nations that build positive experiences and long-lasting trade relationships.

Coffee Origin Tour Checklist

Do one year or more ahead

  • Determine the goals of a coffee origin tour.
  • Determine fee structure.
  • Organize a list of potential travelers.
  • Identify farming communities, estates and facilities that match the goals of a visit.
  • Contact ideal participants to survey interest and propose dates to identify major schedule conflicts.
  • Issue save-the-date invitation or announcement to build awareness.
  • Develop any advertisements that will appear in print.
  • Develop a sponsorship program and approach potential donor or private industry sponsors for support.

Do six months ahead

  • Confirm the dates of travel and day-by-day itinerary.
  • Confirm participation of the community, estate, and facility locations.
  • Notify producers of a deadline to deliver green coffee samples and sample information.
  • Begin sourcing any supplies needed for roasting and cupping of samples.
  • Begin social media campaign, online advertising (as appropriate).
  • Issue formal invitations to guests. Begin confirming participation and assist with necessary traveler visas.
  • Develop a briefing package and Frequently Asked Questions list for participants.

Do three months ahead

  • Confirm traveler participation.
  • Confirm expected coffee samples.
  • Coordinate agenda with producers and estates.
  • Identify potential cultural stopping points.
  • Assist travelers with international flight recommendations.
  • Collect traveler contact information and any supporting documents (passport copy) to make hotel and in-country flight reservations.
  • Distribute the FAQ and briefing package to travelers. Include recommended insurance, inoculations, clothing/weather, and any suggested items (small gifts, etc.) to bring.
  • Plan and time route between itinerary stops to confirm agenda.
  • Make necessary hotel and domestic flight arrangements.
  • Plan group dinners.

Do one month ahead

  • Confirm traveler arrival and departure travel details, arrange for international airport transfers.
  • Develop hour-by-hour agenda.
  • Collect all green samples and information to be used in cupping sessions.
  • Confirm roasting location.
  • Confirm all supplies are available for cupping.
  • Distribute welcome message to travelers, including hour-by-hour program agenda.

Do just before

  • Roast coffee samples for cupping (ideally within 1-2 days of each cupping session).
  • Reconfirm hotel arrangements, meals, and other on-the-ground logistics.
  • Track weather, news, other information sources about local conditions.
  • Confirm expected time of arrival, departure and anticipated agenda with producers.

Do just after

  • Debriefing of all participants prior to departure.
  • Issue anonymous survey to record traveler feedback.
  • Collect high resolution copies of photos and video taken from the trip.
  • Make a to-do list of any information needed and next actions (e.g. ship specific samples to potential buyer for evaluation).

Do one month after

  • Confirm that all to-do items have been accomplished. Follow-up with each traveler for more feedback.
  • Develop an international report describing the activity, its successes, failures, traveler comments and recommendations for future activities.
  • Produce a written or video editorial overview of the activity that may be used for future promotion.
  • Promote the editorial piece on social media.
  • Begin planning for next year.