We empower coffee farmers and connect them to roasters.

Most coffee farmers do not have the means and connections to reach the right buyers. This Side Up was founded to build trustful relationships with coffee farmers and give them the tools to connect to specialty roasters. Along the way we discovered that the best way to facilitate these direct relationships is by vouching for trustworthy partners and by making their coffees easily available in Europe. In the past years, this recipe has shown to make our partners more quality-focused, independent - and substantially increase their income. 
 

Impact without charity.

Although our mission is to have developmental impact, we are a commercial company and do not rely on donations or subsidies to function. We believe that this forces us to create the most sustainable, realistic and scalable roads to coffee farmer development. Also, we want to show that a commercial company can structurally put friendship and development over personal gain and competition - and spread this way of working among our partners.

Transparency

An open and connected world means the producers of our coffee are no longer invisible. We can not only show roasters the producer's world, but also shed light on the complicated coffee trade process itself. We always provide a full breakdown of our coffee prices down to the payments made to the smallholder farmers for their cherries - and back it up with official documentation.

 

Equality

If you want coffee farmers to earn more, you have to cut out unnecessary middlemen and not be greedy yourself as an importer. At This Side Up we're proud to show off our direct relationship with the producers and the equal distribution of profits. We only work with smallholder farmers and pay them a price that rewards quality and respects their actual costs and plans.

 

Empowerment

We believe that the best form of development is empowerment. Instead of the traditional approach of demanding a certain development path, we ask our partner farmers what they would invest an extra premium in. Whether they want to become independent of banks or buy rural health insurance - if that's what your trusted partner wants, it's the right choice.

 

Cooperation

There is still an enormous disconnect between those who grow coffee and those who roast and drink it. We built This Side Up as a true network organisation that consists of like-minded growers, roasters, development agents and entrepreneurs. We work together to produce the highest quality coffee, and to integrate and educate the European specialty coffee market.

 

Relationships

The cornerstone of sourcing good quality coffee is a good relationship with the coffee grower and everyone else in the value chain. We spend months getting to know our producers, building trust and learning about their developmental goals before we venture into trade with them. The result: we have lively, relaxed relationships across cultures and partners we can rely on all year round.

 

Grading

To have an accurate picture of quality, the assessment of two experienced coffee tasters is better than one. Now imagine an interconnected community of baristas, roasters, Q-graders and aficionados who we bring together to test quality and guide import decisions. Ask our customers: we only settle for the best!

 

Harvest

Understanding how the harvest process influences quality, which upgrades to recommend and how to implement them is perhaps the most important quality factor we can influence. We therefore visit our partners as often as we can to improve harvest management - but more importantly, we work together like colleagues online all year round to exchange knowledge and plan for the next crop.

 

Shipping

We ship all coffees in specialty coffee certified containers lined with moisture-absorbing kraft paper and pack all coffees in GrainPro bags or similar. We work with a close network of shipping partners to assure a reliable and predictable service and the shortest (sea) shipping times. We also standardised our delivery rates, find an overview here.

 

Storage

We store our coffees in a warehouse with stable climate, no odours and weekly pest control. We test the moisture content and stability regularly and keep sampling to research how our coffees evolve over time. As a result of this, a longer shelf life is guaranteed.

Happy faces after deciding to work together in April 2017, outside the ARC office in Milan, Italy.

Happy faces after deciding to work together in April 2017, outside the ARC office in Milan, Italy.

Sara Morrocchi

 DEvelopment

Sara is a coffee consultant and Q-grader with more experience than most in the specialty coffee world. Friends and informal quality consultant to Lennart for years, we finally made her part of the team in 2017. Her insights and strong producer connections are helping This Side Up expand to new origins and find creative ways to become a more progressive force of development for producers.

FranCO TEsoro TESS

 Logistics | Financing

Franco leads a seventh generation, Italian family-owned coffee importing company called Aziende Riunite di Caffè. An unlikely partner perhaps, Franco strongly believes in This Side Up's vision. He became, as ARC, angel investor in our value chain, consciously betting on the idea behind our company rather than its mere profitability. ARC provides us with all-round support,  A to Z.

LENNART Clerkx

Director

Lennart is the founder of This Side Up and has always managed producer relationships, quality control, logistics and marketing alone. Now that the team has tripled in size, he can concentrate more on empowering his producer partners to develop their product offering and communication methods directly with roasters, while building a stronger network of engaged roasting professionals worldwide.


Producing Partners
 

Jean de Dieu (Kevin) Nkuzimana

Rwanda

Kevin is director at Misozi Coffee company, the right hand and exporter of some of the best performing farmer cooperatives in Northern Rwanda. Kevin forms our link to the producers at Rushashi and Coko all year round, conducts quality and best practices checks and introduces processing innovations amongst our peers. 

 

JUAN PABLO LAsso ARGOTE

COLOMBIA

Juan Pablo is a member of the Lasso Argote family, the producers of our first Colombian microlot. He actively promotes specialty coffee as a road to better income in his village Colón, Génova, helps out other families in creating, processing and exporting specialty coffee and ultimately wishes to create a region-wide quality standard.

 

REBECCA TRUPIN

TANZANIA

Half Tanzanian, half New Yorker, Rebecca was eager to set up direct trade ties for her coffee farmer relatives in Marangu - and came to Lennart in early 2014 for help. She has succeeded in making both Aranga and Marangu visible, promoting their coffees and managing our export process. 

 

Fuadi Pitsuwan

Thailand

Fuadi is the founder of Beanspire, an export promotion company in Thailand, and our daily link to the Thai coffee farmers we work with. He is part of a young and new movement, poised to give Thai coffee a place in the global specialty scene.

 

Francisco Javier Valle Garcia

Nicaragua

Founder of EXPOCAMO in Ocotal, Francisco dries, mills and exports processes all our partner farmers' coffee to perfection. He is somewhat revered in the region, not only for the work he does to provide quality upgrading knowledge and extra income to farmers, but also for promoting their work directly and transparently to roasters with our cooperation.

This Side Up 1.0: direct trade done differently.

This Side Up was founded in 2013 on the principles of direct trade between roasters and growers. In Lennart's experience on coffee estates and farms, he witnessed the potential of direct trade: open dialogue between the two most important creators of coffee quality - growers and roasters - could lead to better quality, equal treatment and through increased awareness of each others' worlds, more creative and competitive products. He had seen direct trade relationships blossom in Tanzania, the Dominican Republic and Rwanda but also identified its most pressing issues: expensive, unscaled transport and lack of knowledge of which farms to trade with. We also made this video that explains our model beautifully (thanks Bas Goossens). 

Later, This Side Up started taking the risk of buying the coffee itself to help roasters finance the coffee, and so in effect became an importing company. Because micro-roasters in Europe and beyond understood that coffee quality and human development go hand in hand, the company's vision caught on and This Side Up expanded to new origins and markets.

 

2017: Stronger vision, Wider reach.

For four years, This Side Up had expanded as a lone bull, trying to redefine coffee trade as Lennart alone - slowly reaching the limits of what one person can achieve. Partnerships had been proposed left and right, but it wasn't until Sara Morrocchi came along that expanding This Side Up's core team with a quality and development expert seemed in order. Sara's vision and that of Lennart’s are 100% aligned and she's visited more origins and tasted more coffees than most people on this planet.

Sara also introduced Lennart to Franco Tesoro Tess of Aziende Riunite Caffè - perhaps an unlikely partner at first glance, a coffee trading company established in 1856, family owned, Italian. However, like us they too had been looking for a way to answer to the need for change in the coffee industry and were thrilled to hear about our radically different trade model. 

Very soon after we started talking, it became clear that we had a lot to learn from each other. Franco showed us how inefficiently we had been moving coffee up to now, while Lennart and Sara showed ARC how rewarding it is to engage roasters as developmental partners. Moreover, despite our different backgrounds, our values turned out to be very similar. Amidst increasing market consolidation and price pressure on exporting countries, they never sold out to mega-corporations, remained true to their ethical standards and always understood the need to stay dynamic and innovative like a startup. 

It was for these reasons that Franco, Lennart and Sara decided to form an alliance. Together we are expanding This Side Up’s outreach and creating more effective ways to answer to coffee producers’ needs. Most importantly, we will continue to offer unique coffees that roasters can be proud of, traded transparently with our good friends who are changing rural lives worldwide.

 

This Side Up is located inside de School, a former school building turned night club, restaurant, café and breeding ground for start-ups. Together with White Label Coffee, we have created an open space called Lokaal 43, aimed at developing coffee innovations throughout the value chain.
 

THIS SIDE UP COFFEE

TSU TRADE BV
Doctor Jan van Breemenstraat 3
1056 AB Amsterdam
The Netherlands

info@thissideup.coffee
+31 6 47 84 33 95

Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce (NL): TSU TRADE BV
Registration number: 59161167
VAT number: NL853345879B01