Cuvee Coffee CEO Talks About Direct Trade Live on Periscope

Do you have any questions about direct trade? Cuvee Coffee CEO Mike McKim will be live on Periscope to tell you everything you want to know.

[UPDATE: The time/date of the Periscope with Mike McKim has been changed. Originally scheduled for Thursday, it is now scheduled for Friday, Sept. 23 at 1:00PM CDT.]

The jargon of specialty coffee can be confusing. Sometimes a phrase or word means one thing, and can mean something else in another shop ”just try ordering a flat white at a few spots and see how many different drinks you get.

˜Direct Trade’ is one of those confusing terms. At face value, it seems pretty straightforward: roasters source their coffees directly from farmers. But because ˜direct trade’ doesn’t have an exact definition nor is it a certification you can obtain, its meaning can get easily misconstrued or vary wildly from one coffee company to the next. Does direct trade necessarily mean better outcomes for farmers? How is quality ensured? Do you have to visit a farm to build a direct trade relationship? These are just some of the questions that CEO and Founder of Cuvee Coffee, Mike McKim, hopes to answer in a live Q&A session on Friday, September 23.

Mike (above) is the CEO and Founder of Cuvee, and will share his insights based on the experiences he’s had working with the San Jose Ocana farm.

As an example, Mike will speak about the partnership Cuvee has built with the San Jose Ocana farm in Guatemala and its owner, Guillermo Sanchez. Cuvee has been buying coffee from the farm since 2010, and originally began working with Guillermo’s father who helmed the farm. Guillermo is the fifth generation to take the reigns of the San Jose Ocana farm, and Cuvee works with Guillermo on a contract model where Cuvee agrees to buy his coffee at a fixed price regardless of quantity, but does provide incentives for increased quality. With that security, Cuvee and Guillermo have collaborated on different experiments, and this year offer coffees from the San Jose Ocana farm processed fully washed, semi-washed, and natural.

San Jose Ocana grows both yellow and red bourbon, as shown above.
San Jose Ocana grows both yellow and red bourbon, as shown above.

What’s especially unique about this event is that the question-and-answer session will be broadcast live both on Twitter and Periscope. œWe chose a live stream because we wanted to be able to interact with our audience and provide some great œbehind-the-scenes  content as well as provide access to our CEO. We chose Periscope because Twitter is currently our most influential channel,  said Michael Manes, who is in charge of social media for Cuvee. Participants are encouraged to tweet their questions to Mike, and ask any questions they have about how exactly direct trade works while seeing the inner workings of Cuvee.

This year, Cuvee showcased Guillermo's coffees processed three different ways: washed, semi-washed, and natural.
This year, Cuvee showcased Guillermo’s coffees processed three different ways: washed, semi-washed, and natural.

Baristas and consumers alike are encouraged to submit questions, and while the event is meant to be educational for participants, the organizers also hope to learn more about what their consumers care about. œI think the questions we get live will also help us understand what our customers want to know ¦what is really important to them. Because I have learned that sometimes the things we (coffee professionals) think are important are often out of step with the consumer,  Mike shares. Mike hopes to address this discrepancy by fielding questions from various groups, and hopefully provide insight on what consumers care about and how to convey information to them about their coffee.

Mike is no stranger to the Periscope platform: he’s done roaster tours and other Q&A sessions before, and gets questions often through both the Cuvee twitter and his personal twitter account. So expect a lot of information, a frank and honest discussion about direct trade, and insights about the San Jose Ocana farm and how they’ve proven to be a model for direct trade partnerships. Mike will be answering questions live Friday, September 23nd at 1:00pm Central time. You can start asking questions now by tweeting to the handle @MikeMcKim, and you can check into the talk by going to the @CuveeCoffee twitter page and clicking the link to the live Periscope broadcast.

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Ashley is the Online Editor for Barista Magazine. She's based in Chicago. If you want to share a story or have a comment, you can reach her at