New or­ganic cof­fee hits fair trade mar­ket

Valerio Cof­fee Roast­ers buzzes into or­ganic free trade mar­ket

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Puleo gpuleo@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Mus­tangMan48 on Twit­ter

An­thony Valerio has in­tro­duced Valerio Cof­fee Roast­ers, a spe­cial­ized brand of or­ganic fair trade cof­fee.

LOWER PROV­I­DENCE >> Many lo­cal java en­thu­si­asts are al­ready well ac­quainted with the renowned va­ri­eties of Café Ex­cel­lence, founder An­thony Valerio’s mi­cro cof­fee roast­ing en­ter­prise in Audubon.

Now that Valerio, who refers to him­self as Chief Bean Of­fi­cer of the com­pany, has turned his pas­sion for the world’s fa­vorite form of caf­feine to cer­ti­fied or­ganic fair trade cof­fee, nat­u­rally he needed a new name for the spe­cial­ized brand.

And so Valerio Cof­fee Roast­ers was born.

“This was a good way to ex­pand our busi­ness, and I wanted to do this brand so that we could ac­tu­ally do more for the farm­ers, and that’s why it’s a fair trade. I wanted the busi­ness to give back, to do more than just pro­vide me with a liv­ing and this was one way of be­ing able to do it. Us­ing my name was a way of say­ing there’s an im­por­tance to this,” Valerio said. “I didn’t want these cof­fees to be grouped in with Café Ex­cel­lence, which makes fla­vored cof­fees and other spe­cialty cof­fees.”

In de­vel­op­ing the new line, Valerio worked with the non­profit Fair Trade USA, an independent cer­ti­fier of fair trade prod­ucts, which refers to a sys­tem of buy­ing and sell­ing goods and com­modi­ties.

In the case of cof­fee beans, it en­sures that the lo­cal farm­ers who toil at cul­ti­vat­ing and har­vest­ing beans are paid a fair wage, re­gard­less of the cur­rent

global price be­ing paid for their prod­uct.

“Fair trade pro­tects them and when the mar­ket goes down they still get their money,” noted Valerio, who works di­rectly with some farm­ers and also with their bro­kers. “When it’s based on the com­modi­ties mar­ket there is no pro­tec­tion for the farm­ers; they will get what­ever the mar­ket will bear at the time it is sold. The farm­ers who grow cof­fee are the most gra­cious and hum­ble peo­ple you could meet, and they’re not look­ing for a hand­out. Fair trade doesn’t just give work­ers a higher wage, it also pro­vides for com­mu­nity needs like schools, wells, and roads. Fair trade means that 20 cents per pound is a pre­mium paid on top of the or­ganic cof­fee price, and that goes back to the co-op. So, once a year all the farm­ers de­cide what they will do with the money. It’s a mar­ket-driven ap­proach,” he added. “The farm­ers are get­ting more money for their crops, so there­fore they’re tak­ing bet­ter care of the prod­uct and the qual­ity of the cof­fee is much bet­ter … and it’s not a char­i­ta­ble thing, so it re­ally in­trigued me.”

Valerio has been eager to em­brace the or­ganic cof­fee trend for years, he said.

“The qual­ity just wasn’t what it needed to be un­til the last few years. Or­ganic cof­fee now is a big im­prove­ment over what it used to be. They’ve come up with or­ganic fer­til­iz­ers and dif­fer­ent ways of help­ing the plants flour­ish, so the prod­uct will flour­ish.”

Valerio Roast­ers cof­fees are strictly sin­gle ori­gin, spe­cialty beans, grown at high el­e­va­tion — more than 2,000 feet above sea level, with only the ripe cof­fee cher­ries be­ing har­vested in Peru, Hon­duras and the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of the Congo.

Ze­ro­ing in on just the ripe beans for a good har­vest is an art in it­self, Valerio al­lowed.

“Just like your gar­den toma­toes don’t all ripen at the same time, the cof­fee picker must go back to the tree sev­eral times dur­ing har­vest to en­sure we get only the finest spe­cialty cof­fee. Add the fact that one tree typ­i­cally pro­duces just a sin­gle pound of cof­fee per year, and you start to un­der­stand just how pre­cious great cof­fee is,” he said.

In late Septem­ber the sea­son is ripe for Peru beans to start flow­ing into the Park Pointe at Lower Prov­i­dence fa­cil­ity to un­dergo the metic­u­lous roast­ing process that will ul­ti­mately land them on the dis­cern­ing palates of Valerio Cof­fee Roast­ers cus­tomers, in­clud­ing Swiss Farms in Delaware County, White Dog Café and McCaffrey’s mar­ket, as well as those who pa­tron­ize the on-site re­tail store in Audubon.

“More and more peo­ple have an in­ter­est in our cof­fee, and more and more restau­rants are fo­cus­ing their menus on fair trade or­ganic or spe­cialty cof­fee, and we’re more of a fit for them now. The con­sumer is re­ally driv­ing it,” Valerio said. “They’re sit­ting down to eat and they want let­tuce that hasn’t been sprayed with some­thing, and the or­ganic cof­fee fits in with that.”


An­thony Valerio show­cases the new Valerio Cof­fee Roast­ers line at the roast­ing fa­cil­ity’s re­tail store in Audubon.

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