There are many steps between coffee leaving its country of origin and its arrival at your roastery. These steps take a lot of time, effort, and patience for those who work in logistics and operations.
The Logistics and Operations team at Sustainable Harvest needs to check many boxes to ensure coffee gets from origin to you. They must have excellent communication with every supplier, cooperative, and producer to make sure they meet quality and packaging requirements, and that they complete each task on time so that coffee leaves the port when it's supposed to. They also must deal with insurance companies, certifying organizations, customs agents, piles of paperwork, and of course, ensure that all costs are covered.
This past year has been incredibly challenging, with the pandemic making things harder than before, shipments being delayed, and the price of containers increasing like never before. Uncertainty is high, but we’re proud to say our team has done a great job! We’re excited to shine the spotlight on them today.
Certifications Manager & Coffee Operations Specialist
Portland, Oregon, USA
Coffee has always been a part of Cora's life—either directly or indirectly. She has great memories of her grandfather selling coffee and operating a small roastery when she was growing up in Oaxaca, Mexico. She got further into coffee through her husband, Oscar Magro, who is Sustainable Harvest’s Chief Technology Officer; Cora attended one of our Let’s Talk Coffee events before moving to the U.S. in 2011 and joining our communications team.
After some time in communications, Cora oversaw our Certifications team and spent some time working on our impact projects before joining the Operations team. Cora says it has been very valuable to work with many facets of the company and to see the impact on smallholder farmers that Sustainable Harvest prioritizes. Now Cora is our Certifications Manager and Coffee Operations Specialist, overseeing everything related to logistics. She is in charge of monitoring all of our contracts; handles certifications; makes sure routes are active and available; ensures that all the paperwork is in place, and stays in constant communication with the shipping companies we work with and all our suppliers.
Cora has an intense job, but she mentions that all the work that logistics involves wouldn't be possible without the fantastic team by her side. "With the volume we are carrying now, it definitely can't be a one-person job; it's all about teamwork," she says, adding that the Logistics team also receives key support from Sustainable Harvest’s Supply team. Cora also makes an apt comparison when asked how she thinks of her job. “Working in logistics is like being a music director,” she says. “I need to learn how to read every note, and know the exact time when every instrument needs to start playing. It’s not an easy job; there are many steps and details you need to take care of.”
"What I truly enjoy the most about my job is knowing that all the stress, hard work, and challenges are worth it because, in a way, I’m helping producers sell their coffee!”
While it’s challenging to execute these tasks, Cora is gratified when it all comes together. “What I truly enjoy the most about my job is knowing that all the stress, hard work, and challenges are worth it because, in a way, I’m helping producers sell their coffee!” she says.
Working for the benefit of these coffee farmers is another rewarding part of the job for Cora. “To me, Relationship Coffee means that you can be profitable without taking advantage of anyone,” she says. “I feel like everyone involved in our company has a great sense of social responsibility. I’ve loved this company for 20 years, I’ve worked here for 10, and it still amazes me how it truly has changed paradigms in our industry.”
Director of Supply & Operations
Originally from the Netherlands, Jerónimo “Jero” Bollen moved to Guatemala in 1994. After some initial work in the coffee industry there, he jumped headlong into the coffee world in 1998 when he joined the Manos Campesinas cooperative, where he worked as the organization’s general manager. His time at Manos Campesinas also gave Jero his introduction to Sustainable Harvest, as we purchased coffee from the cooperative, and Jero became friendly with our CEO David Griswold and Chief Coffee Officer Jorge Cuevas.
After eight years working in Guatemala, he joined the team at the nonprofit social investment fund Root Capital and moved to Costa Rica. During his time there, he worked closely with Liam Brody, who would later become the President of Sustainable Harvest. Then four years ago, Jero came to work for Sustainable Harvest!
Jero wears many hats at SH, supporting the Supply team, leading projects with the Impact team, and of course working with the Logistics team, where he helps solve issues that arise each day, processes information about shipments, and generally handles a lot of paperwork. With all his roles, Jero’s job requires a great deal of attention to detail and a lot of communication—with shipping companies, with our teams at origin and in the U.S., and with our clients.
Jero says one element of his work with the Logistics team that he appreciates is figuring out how to handle unexpected roadblocks and still move forward. “Our job in Logistics is to prevent whatever can go wrong, and sometimes things don’t go too well,” he says. “If there are delays, problems with shipping, or other ‘small fires,’ we need to look for a solution. Sometimes buyers just care if their coffee gets to them on time—or if it doesn’t—but many times they don’t know all the hard work that was done for it to get there. It involves a lot of time and effort.”
"We need to give tools to producers, not just pay a higher price—we need to go beyond economic impact—and I believe we do that through our Relationship Coffee Model"
Jero adds that he’s also gratified to work with Sustainable Harvest and our unique model. “We need to give tools to producers, not just pay a higher price—we need to go beyond economic impact—and I believe we do that through our Relationship Coffee Model,” he says. “Yes, paying fair prices is important, but we are also helping producers to understand the market, collaborating with organizations to give them financial education, and working with managers and younger generations to have a greater impact.”
Logistics and Operations Assistant
Sandra is one of the newest members of the Sustainable Harvest team, having joined earlier this year. While she has experience in Logistics and Operations through companies in Mexico, this is her first time working in coffee. And we have needed her! Sandra joined the team during challenging times, as there have been many issues with shipments, containers, and delays due to the pandemic. Sandra arrived at just the right time when we needed an extra pair of hands and eyes!
She is the Logistics and Operations Assistant at our office in Oaxaca and supports the Supply team that oversees all of our Latin America operations. Furthermore, she’s in charge of going through all the documentation and requirements we need to meet, as well as being in constant communication with customs agents, and making sure we have all our paperwork in order. “I need to keep track of all of our coffees, see if samples have been approved, keep the team updated, send shipping instructions, and be in contact with our supply team to keep them in the loop of all of our shipments and on new requests,” Sandra says.
While her job involves a lot of juggling, Sandra says she enjoys the challenge. “I love having everything under control and making sure every shipment goes out on time,” she says. “It feels amazing whenever a container leaves as it was supposed to and arrives at its destination without any issues. It’s a team effort, and it feels great being part of that.”
Also gratifying to Sandra is knowing her job is ultimately rewarding the hard work of coffee producers. “I enjoy working with a team I can learn from, and I find it amazing how the team really cares about the producers and helps them improve the quality of their coffee,” she says. “You can tell they are committed to making a difference—for me, that is Relationship Coffee. They really get to know the producers, care for them and want to see them improve the quality of their lives and do something to help them achieve that.”
"I enjoy working with a team I can learn from, and I find it amazing how the team really cares about the producers and helps them improve the quality of their coffee. You can tell they are committed to making a difference—for me, that is Relationship Coffee.”
Sandra also says that starting to work in coffee has opened her eyes to everything that happens behind the scenes. “You often don’t think about all the hard work behind a cup of coffee,” she says. “I didn’t fully understand it until I started working here and realized all the steps needed for it to get from origin to its final destination. I’d like to see more people understand that too because there’s a lot of time and hard work involved in a good cup of coffee!”
Thanks for spending time with us learning about some of the fantastic folks in our Logistics and Operations team, and the great work they do at Sustainable Harvest. Stay tuned for our next blog post highlighting our staff members, where we’ll learn more about our awesome IT team. And please subscribe below to stay up to date with our blog!