Become a Coffee Buyer

As the world becomes more and more reliant on coffee, it is important to know how essential beans are. In this survival-themed game, you will be tasked with harvesting your own coffee plants in order to buy goods from local vendors so that you can survive longer than anyone else.

The “coffee buyer jobs” is a new job that has been created by the coffee industry. The job posting states that it is for people who want to buy and sell high quality coffee beans at wholesale prices.

We’re back with another installment of our So You Want My Job series, in which we speak with guys who work in coveted positions and ask them about the realities of their employment as well as tips on how men might achieve their goals.

A terrific green coffee buyer like Mark Inman is behind every wonderful cup of joe. Mr. Inman works for Taylor Maid Farms, a firm that promotes organic, sustainable agriculture and helps small family farmers. Mr. Inman travels the globe dealing with coffee at its source, guaranteeing that each cup of his java is of the highest quality. Mark has worked in the coffee industry for two decades and now gives a unique insight into a profession that mixes adventure with beans.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself (e.g., where do you come from?). What is your age? Describe your job, including how long you’ve been doing it, and so on.

I now reside in Sebastopol, California, which is located in the heart of Sonoma wine country. I’m 41 years old and have spent the last 20 years working in the speciality coffee industry.

A green coffee buyer is someone who has been educated in acquiring coffee from origin nations, evaluating/grading coffee, establishing a price for coffee, understanding the commodity of coffee, producing blends, or defining specifications for coffee roasting profiles.

A green coffee buyer might spend months dealing with individual coffee producers, grower groups, or export firms each year. At Taylor Maid Farms, I work with producers and grower organizations in 19 different countries and spend up to four months a year away from home.

2. What motivated you to pursue a career as a coffee buyer? When did you realize you wanted to do it?

Like many others in my field, I stumbled into it by chance. When I learnt about professional coffee tasting, I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree in oenology/viticulture. I discovered that coffee and wine grapes are quite similar in terms of the number of types accessible, the many microclimates that are beneficial to each variety, the plant’s longevity (“Old Vine”), and how each product is processed to make a dynamically flavored beverage.

The professional coffee tasters wheel, like the iconic U.C. Davis wine wheel, contains a comparable number of discernible aromatic and flavor constituents. I had no concept that coffee could be as sophisticated as wine when I began in this field, but as I progressed, I discovered that my formal education in wine/agriculture offered me an early edge in the early 1990s coffee boom.

3. What is the best way for a guy to learn about the coffee industry? You can’t major in coffee in college right now, despite how popular it would be.

Like many other trades, most people learn by doing. Outside of direct apprenticeship, educational possibilities are still restricted. One organization that provides training on roasting, green coffee grading/buying, and coffee preparation is the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA.Org) (Barista).

 

Mark Inman coffee buyer tasting product samples.

4. How do you go from being a coffee aficionado to getting compensated for your efforts? How can you get your foot in the door of the coffee industry?

When I first got into the industry, I didn’t even drink coffee. Early on in the speciality coffee boom, I saw how uncontrolled and harmful the use of agrichemicals in coffee-growing countries was, and I was able to position myself as an expert in organic agriculture (using my training from the wine industry). Early in my career, I worked with farmers to help them convert their farms to organic certification and locate consumers prepared to pay higher rates for better quality coffee. Early on, I grew interested in heritage or old world coffee kinds such as Borubon and Typica, which are now highly sought after, and started collecting unusual seeds to help conserve these quickly vanishing species.

Another thing that struck me right away was how handsomely green coffee purchasers might be compensated. When I was studying wine, there was a lot of consolidation going on, and obtaining a decent job as a head winemaker was becoming increasingly difficult. In this sector, salaries might vary from $50,000 to $300,000 each year!

5. How difficult is it to get a job as a coffee buyer? I’m guessing there aren’t many openings and a lot of people that want to work in the coffee industry. What distinguishes a successful applicant from the rest?

Getting employed as a green coffee buyer is quite difficult. As individuals grow in the industry, they eventually aspire to work as a green coffee buyer or a green coffee importer, both of which require a lot of travel. Most individuals imagine travel to be exotic or luxury, only to be disillusioned when they find themselves sleeping in a slew of dirt-floored homes in a poor country’s back hills, continuously battling a disease.

Those who want to be considered for this role should be fluent in Spanish, have a well-trained taste or a talent for discovering depth and flavor in whatever they drink or eat, be able to write effectively, and be comfortable speaking in public. You should not be afraid of traveling in hazardous areas of the globe and should be at ease with rough travel since you will be spending endless hours in a chicken bus, on the back of a truck, in a canoe, or on a horse, camel, or donkey.

6. What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?

There are far too many to count. In my 20 years in this industry, I’ve seen some of the most incredible locations, cultures, people, and tragedies. I’ve worked as a technician on a number of USAID and ACDI/VOCA projects that have aided in the transformation of communities in underdeveloped countries. I’ve served on the board of directors and as President of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the world’s largest coffee trade association; I’ve written articles for numerous magazines on a variety of coffee-related topics; and I’ve helped dozens of people open their own cafés, small roasteries, and coffee wholesale businesses…. Working with the folks who have devoted their life to producing a delightfully intriguing beverage that most people wake up with every day, but frequently take for granted, is by far the finest part.

 

7. What is the most difficult aspect of your job?

Being away from my kid when I travel is misery. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to bring him along on many of my travels (he’s six), but being away from him for any period of time is torturous.

8. How do you strike a balance between job, family, and personal life?

It’s the most difficult aspect of the job. Many green coffee purchasers see their relationships disintegrate in front of their eyes as they spend months in other nations. Despite the fact that my previous wife worked in this profession, I found myself becoming one of the victims of this phenomena. But I’ve made my kid my first priority, and I won’t miss him growing up in search of wonderful coffee. Others, on the other hand, have made that sacrifice and paid the price.

9. What is the most common misunderstanding about your job?

That, as in the Yuban ad, I’m going down to buy burlap sacks of roasted coffee beans.

10. Do you have any other advice, ideas, or stories to share?

Get in the habit of developing illnesses you’ve never heard of before. Apart from Malaria and Yellow Fever, you’ll ultimately become a host to a slew of parasites, discover why Dengue Fever is known as “Bone Break” sickness, and spend more international flights in the restroom than in your seat!

 

 

The “green coffee buyer salary” is a new job that has been created. The job entails the person to be able to find and purchase green coffee beans from around the world.

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