2022 was a year of significant change and reflection for all.
Here at Rumble, we’ve been solidifying our approach to sustainability by joining 1% for the Planet. This special, global network incorporates thousands of businesses and environmental organisations who work together to support both people and the planet. Our commitment involves donating 1% of our total gross turnover to not-for-profit (NFP) groups doing great work.
This includes offering Rumble staff the opportunity to support a charity they connect with personally. Currently, staff are asked to nominate their charity of choice to which we donate a figure of AUD$500 per staff member. The aim? We’ve always believed that businesses should lead the way in supporting like-minded charities and the people that devote their time to them.
We’re in no doubt that moving into 2023 and beyond, the world we live in will continue experiencing a wide range of challenges. At Rumble, we’ve always been motivated by doing our best to help.
With large volumes of travel remaining challenging from a financial perspective, we’ve still maintained great connections with our producers through WhatsApp and other online means.
Continuing a deep understanding of issues on the ground is one of the most important things to keep in mind when buying and roasting coffee ethically. Of course, we’ve always maintained that price negotiations must be made with this in mind.
But before we get going:
A word on murky messaging.
What kind of connotations does that phrase have for you?
To most, it will conjure images of prestige, passionate baristas and teams of enthusiastic coffee-lovers gathering over freshly roasted microlots. But when it comes to messaging and transparency of data, often the information available is anything but superior.
Put simply, specialty coffee is, by nature, supposed to be a higher-quality product - and priced accordingly. In today’s coffee industry, it’s still the case that many coffee importers, roasters and cafes market their coffee as “specialty” when it’s actually purchased for commodity coffee prices.
Is it really okay to claim a coffee as “specialty” if the only available information lists the coffee as obtaining a cup score of 80+/100? At Rumble, we think not.
We want to go further - for the benefits of every single person in the supply chain. Enter our 2022 Impact Report.
Keen to get the most from our Impact Report? We’d love that for you too.
Here’s some key language to keep in mind as you continue reading.
A term used to describe the global trade of coffee as an undifferentiated, baseline quality commodity (like stock standard flour or sugar, for example). The C-price (a global price paid for coffee) is dictated by the stock exchange meaning many producers risk being underpaidas well as having the diversity of their crop go unrecognised.
Fair Trade pays a premium to member producers. It's aim is to stay USD20c above the C-market price and pay this premium to better the livelihoods of its producer members. It doesn’t, however, attempt to improve coffee quality and obtain good outcomes for coffee farmers. The Fair Trade minimum is still USD$1.40 - less than the cost of production and far from enough to bring families and communities out of poverty.
The farm gate price of a product describes the net value of the product as it leaves the farm. Farm gate price, when paired with an understanding of FOB (see below), provides a fuller picture of Transparency both internally (for producers) and externally (for buyers).
At Rumble, we now refer to FOB (“free on board” price) as RTO (“return to origin”) price, as this more carefully articulates the amount of money being received by all who took part in getting the coffee to port. We argue that data surrounding RTO price is important to share because it offers a clear snapshot of what the farmer received from the sale(less freight, insurance, finance, and other costs sometimes added to the published “price paid” by roasters who claim a “specialty” coffee).
For clarity, and as we transition to using “RTO price” terminology throughout our operations, you’ll notice we’ve included both RTO and FOB terms in our data this year.
At Rumble, Transparency is both a philosophy and way of life. When we use the word Transparency in this report, we refer to the act of placing real value on the production of coffee. Rumble’s approach to Transparency has three key pillars:
In 2022, prices remained high on the commodity exchange. This has been reflected in specialty prices as well. Although we’d hope coffee producers would be receiving more income as a result, this hasn’t been the case.
Why has the prospect of increased income been so important for producers this year? Firstly, the cost of fertiliser and other nutrients necessary for use on coffee farms has been at record high. What’s more, labourers have been hard to find and subsequently needing to be paid more.
In fact, we saw these prices go so high that, in some countries, farmers significantly rushed their harvests. In theory, this was likely to make it more difficult to secure the quality of previous years. However, in true Rumble style, we’d been paying higher prices throughout this time anyway, making it possible to source great coffee regardless.
Since we started publishing our RTO prices (aka FOB prices) paid in 2018, the team at Rumble has been working hard to find a better way of representing the prices paid for our coffees.
It’s one thing, of course, to talk about the cost of exotic, single-origin coffee but in order to be truly transparent, we need to do this for the full range of coffees we sell.
As of 2022, all Rumble Coffees are now fully transparent with data available for everything - no matter whether a single origin or blend. With only a handful of roasters in Australia publishing their prices openly, true comparison is difficult. Put simply, the more roasters that contribute their data, the better for all in the supply chain. More on this later in the report.
The table below lists all of the coffees we purchased in 2022. Note that some of the coffees roasted in 2022 were bought in 2021, and therefore included on the 2021 Impact Report. Unsure where to find your coffee? Feel free to get in touch!
As per previous years, we’ve shown the price paid in both USD per pound (as is the international trade standard) plus the equivalent price in AUD (Australian dollars) per kilo in order to offer the most well-rounded, contextualised picture.
The RTO price quoted is for coffee that’s milled and at the country’s port, ready to ship (this money is paid to the exporter). The price Rumble pays includes extra costs like shipping, insurance, importer fees etc. Of course, these costs differ quite a lot from coffee to coffee and can range anywhere from 12% to 35% of the final figure. Note that once we have the coffee in the warehouse, we also need to factor in moisture loss when the coffee is roasted. This increases the cost again by roughly 18%.
Why provide all of these different figures? Remember our aim: a transparent, well-rounded picture of how the needs of everyone within the supply chain are met - and exceeded.
“Direct trade” is a term that gets thrown around by lots of roasters these days.
As such, its definition can change.
For us, “direct trade” means that we’ve directly negotiated - with producers specifically - both the price and amount of coffee purchased. Once this is done, we then make arrangements with both exporters and importers in order to bring the coffee to Australia.
Why “direct trade” then? For us at Rumble, it ensures greater transparency surrounding the entire trade. Where direct trade isn’t possible, we love working with trusted importers - something made possible by our purchase of small lots.
In 2022, Rumble purchased coffee from nine (9) countries. Most of the lots were purchased directly from importers either when they were in the country (SPOT), or from samples offered before shipment. 57.5% percent of the volume was directly negotiated with producers.
Here’s 5 easy actions you can take today:
1. Learn more about our Impact Report and mission of Transparency.
2. Keen to enjoy Rumble’s great-tasing, feel-good coffee at home? Jump online and buy a bag, or visit one of the cafes we supply - you can find them on our website suppliers page.
3. Wish your local cafe was making our coffee so you can feel even better about supporting local business? Let them know about Rumble and what we do.
4. Got an office with average coffee? Talk to your boss about changing it up - grab yourself a delicious, ethical coffee that makes the team feel warm and fuzzy.
5. If you own a cafe, get in touch with us about partnering. We focus our work in Melbourne but supply all over Australia.
It’s not just poor prices paid that represents the problems with our industry. Farming practices themselves are also an issue to be explored. For example, particular varietals of Arabica coffee are often susceptible to climate, disease and pests and need to be farmed accordingly. What’s more, farmers’ knowledge around the age of trees, soil condition and general farming practices is also something to consider. Often, education is where it all starts.
Taking all of this into account, we started making donations to World Coffee Research, an incredible organisation running education programs all over the coffee-growing world. The focus of these include everything from conducting genetic tests on plants and identifying varietals to assistance with climate mitigation and improving farmer profitability.
Our annual membership donation is USD$500.
We’re also proudly continuing our donations to Grounds for Health. Beginning its life in 1996, Grounds for Health is a not for profit organisation with its focus being the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer in coffee-growing communities, many of whom, due to many and varying factors, may not be receiving the support they need.
Grounds for Health runs screening programs throughout an increasing number of coffee-growing communities. They also train local health providers on how to conduct proper screening, partnering with co-ops and in-country NGOs to provide further education and treatment. In 2022, we donated AUD$1,681.05 - that’s $2 from every bag sold of one of our most-loved coffees, Marie’s, which equated to USD$1033.
Finally, we’ve been donating our coffee purchasing data to Transparent Trade at Emory University for the last four (4) years, using the data they collectively provide to start comparing our performance to peers around the world.
Sustainability is not just environmental. It’s also economic. If the coffee industry works for all parties in the supply chain, it has a sustainable future - one where producers can look after their families and community, and baristas making the coffee are being paid fairly to do the same. To achieve real sustainability, everyone in the supply chain needs to be considered and involved.
Producing our Impact Report is our way of being open about what we do and challenging others to do the same - that is, sharing the truth through data. Far from creating competition, we’re seeking only to challenge ourselves to be better by being transparent about all the coffee Rumble roasts and sells to our cafes and customers. This remains true not just for the special lots and single origins, but all blend components as well.
By creating this report, it gives our team a chance to look back at all that we’ve achieved in the last year. But perhaps most importantly, it helps us look forward to all future possibilities for our team and create some incredible goals for the future.
As you might have come to expect from Team Rumble, we’ve been hard at work this year finding ways to improve our environmental impact. As a product manufacturer, there’s no way to remove our impact entirely at this stage, but we certainly acknowledge that there are ways of decreasing our impact, which we will continue to do more of in the future.
Waste reduction has been our first continued area of focus. To this end, we’re proud of the fact that we still use our two council bins for recycling and general waste. Our soft plastics (mainly Grain Pro coffee sack liners) are regularly picked up for recycling, and all of the coffee sacks and chaff/grounds are picked up by Kensington locals to help boost the productivity of their personal gardens. We love it!
In November 2022, we learnt - along with the rest of the country - that the REDcycle program was winding up. This came as a shock to everyone. We looked at alternatives but couldn’t find anything we were happy with. Recyclable paper bags didn’t store the coffee well, and compostable bags had many of their own issues, including actually transporting the bags to compost networks.
We’ve continued using some soft plastic for the time being but remain keenly on the hunt for something better. We also have a TerraCycle collection point at the roastery which means our customers can return their Rumble coffee bags for efficient recycling.
What’s more, we’ve also been making moves to offset our energy usage. As you can imagine, coffee roasting uses quite a chunk of gas and electricity. At this stage, we’re offsetting our carbon footprint through our current energy provider by participating in a CO2 offset program. This program purchases carbon credits from green initiatives to offset the roastery’s carbon output.
Finally, it’s through our donations to 1% for the Planet that we’re increasing our focus on supporting various environmental projects of significance across Australia. These include a variety of charities that are revegetating land in Australia, including Bush Heritage, West Welcome Wagon, and Bird Life Australia.