Farm profitability is everything

We believe farm profitability is the root problem and the solution to supply chain stability. Producers of washed Arabicas face fluctuating pressures — from market volatility to pest outbreaks and climate change — and those who aren’t consistently profitable are the most vulnerable. When producers see their incomes improve, however, they’re encouraged to improve farm practices, increase productivity, deliver higher quality and keep farming.

Threats to stability


• Limited resources: Economic growth combined with population growth put increased demands on land, energy and water.

• Migration: Younger generations are moving to more reliable jobs in cities.

• Urbanization: Population growth is encroaching on traditional coffee farming regions, such as Arusha, Tanzania; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Antigua, Guatemala.

• Climate change: Extreme weather events and unpredictable precipitation patterns amplify a number of climate pressures, adding to production uncertainty.


• Many producers lack consistent access to technical assistance or agricultural extension services to advise on farm management practices.

• Many farms lack direct access to good markets.

• Highly efficient origins, like Brazil and Vietnam, make it difficult for producers of specialty washed Arabicas to compete on price.


• Developed specialty markets continue to evolve in North America, while new ones quickly grow in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

• Producers are under increasing pressure to meet expectations about the environmental and social standards on their farms.

Washed Arabica production

In 1987, washed Arabica’s share of total production reached 50 percent globally; by 2014, it had fallen to below 26 percent. At the moment, we see an uptick. But decades of data show a downward trend, resulting from the threats described above.Our aim is to address these threats and stabilize supply in the regions where we work.
Download Washed Arabica as a Percentage
of Global Coffee Production chart.


Our relentless focus on farm profitability is at the core of our Theory of Change, which believes that profitable farms improve producer livelihoods and enhance supply chain stability to the long-term benefit of all.

Volcafe Way is a multi-year implementation of that theory, focused on:

  • Intervention at the farm level
  • Consistent farm profitability
  • Close working relationships between producers and Farmer Support Organization (FSO) teams
  • Business and agronomy advice that’s informed by detailed cost-of-production data derived and analyzed on a farm-by-farm basis
  • Connecting producers and roasters in direct, long-term sourcing relationships.
Activities & Outcomes





Cost of Production



Volcafe Way Impacts



Model Farms

Each Volcafe Way technician recruits at least one farmer, who agrees to run a model farm business to demonstrate the impacts of applied Volcafe Way recommendations. Model businesses host monthly trainings where productivity, quality, efficiency and environmental and social standards are addressed. These trainings are open to anyone in the community, whether or not they’re currently participating in Volcafe Way.

Monitoring & Verification

Volcafe Way is an impact program, not a certification. Certifications seek to enforce a set of standards, and their audits are a type of snapshot, showing compliance. Impact programs, by contrast, survey a situation, include a commitment from all involved, install programs designed to yield improvements over time — and then begin measuring.

So for impact programs, snapshots audits are inadequate. Instead, verification is measured through a series of audits that aim to create awareness, promote understanding, strengthen accountability and support the key stakeholders in bringing about change. We worked with FLOCERT, an independent verification company, to develop our monitoring and evaluation protocol, as well as our verification architecture. FLOCERT also documented our team training methodology, reviewed our recommended agro-economic practices and reviewed and finalized our social and environmental standards.

Roasters who purchase Volcafe Way coffees may choose to have our practices, standards and impacts independently verified by an agency that has been trained in our methodology. Volcafe will happily supply all relevant documentation and references to serious parties.

For more information, please contact

“Volcafe Way is one of the most impact-focused program we’ve seen, across any of the sectors we’ve worked in. The clear trend is toward impact, and Volcafe Way is leading the way with an unwavering focus on farm profitability and positive impact.”

-Ose Nielsen, Global Head of Product Development, FLOCERT GmbH

Community Partners

Because the success of coffee families is essential, we work directly with producers and invest in their communities.

We have partnered with the NGO Fundación Paraguaya to pilot their groundbreaking needs-assessment technology, the Poverty Stoplight (Semaforo de Pobreza).

This technology enables individual households and communities to self-assess their needs. The results of the assessment allow Volcafe Way to direct resources in ways identified by the community.

We look forward to sharing the results of the pilot, as well as the outcomes of other community-facing programs underway in other origins.

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