About Us

In 2014, Volcafe undertook a two-year initiative to research and develop a global approach to sustainably sourcing high-quality coffees. We drew on the expertise of our field teams, pooling their collective knowledge and experience, to document best-practice strategies at origins. We then developed a farmer support organization to provide direct technical assistance to farmers, helping them to improve — and to continually improve — their coffee quality, farm productivity and yields. We named this new sustainable sourcing strategy the Volcafe Way.

Volcafe Way is now active in Africa, Asia and Latin America. More than a sustainability strategy, it’s the way we do business. We take a “root cause, root solution” approach, working directly with coffee farmers to assist and train them in sustainable production techniques and good agronomy practices, as well as in making the best uses of their land for future generations.

Our farmer support teams help producers to manage risks, improve outcomes, gather data and focus on measurable results that our green-buyer customers can monitor and verify. One of our flagship training methods is creating “business-model farms,” which provide local learning hubs where surrounding communities can exchange best practices so that they all learn and benefit — whether they work directly with us or not.

As the world of coffee has evolved, so has Volcafe.

  • 1783

    Volcafe’s parent company, ED&F Man, is founded in London by sugar-trader James Man.

  • 1851

    Salomon and Johann Georg Volkart found Volkart Brothers, to conduct trade between Switzerland and the Indian subcontinent.

  • 1875

    Volkart Brothers opens a branch office in southern India.

  • 1882

    The New York Coffee Exchange trades its first coffee contracts.

  • 1950

    Coffee becomes Volkart Brothers’ main activity. The company trades coffees from Latin America and has export companies in Brazil, Guatemala and Costa Rica.

  • 1974

    The term "specialty coffee" is coined (by trader Erna Knutsen) to differentiate between mass, commercial beans and the highest-quality coffees.

  • 1979

    Washed Arabica – the most common specialty coffee – represents 48 percent of global coffee production.

  • 1989

    Swiss conglomerate ERB acquires Volkart Brothers’ coffee business and renames it Volcafe.

  • 2001

    Volcafe launches Volcafe Specialty Coffee (VSC), to promote specialty coffee in the United States.

  • 2004

    ED&F Man acquires Volcafe, making it one of the world’s largest coffee merchants.

  • 2014

    Washed Arabica production falls below 26 percent of global coffee production.

  • 2015

    Volcafe researches and develops a global approach to sourcing sustainable, high-quality Arabica coffees.

  • 2016

    Volcafe Way is launched. Farmer support organization (FSO) teams are trained in nine countries. Programs in two more countries are underway.

Volcafe’s significant presence in washed Arabica origins enabled and encouraged us to create Volcafe Way — our long-term investment in coffee supply chains that puts farm profitability front and center.

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