Find out how Crypto Baristas, 60 caffeine-loving hand-drawn characters, are being used to help establish a transparent farm-gate price for a coffee farm in Honduras.
BY VASILEIA FANARIOTI
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Coffee Bros.
Lately, it seems there’s a new use for blockchain technology popping up every day. From tracking food origins to powering virtual worlds, the possibilities are endless. So, it was only a matter of time before someone applied it to coffee. In that case, has anyone ever called for a Crypto Barista?
Enter Coffee Bros., a project that uses NFTs (non-fungible tokens) to create a unique experience for coffee lovers and support coffee initiatives at origin. Brothers Dan and Nick Hunnewell founded the Coffee Bros. Roastery in 2019 with a mission to improve the quality of people’s coffee experiences.
Last year, they launched a project called Crypto Baristas, which allows users to purchase caffeine-loving NFT characters with cryptocurrency, resulting in the opening of the very first NFT-funded café space in NYC.
We chatted with Dan about how the project came about and what the future holds for Crypto Baristas.
Navigating Blockchain Jargon
Coffee Bros. are harnessing the power of blockchain technology and NFTs to create a new way of supporting real-life coffee initiatives. To many of us, words like “blockchain“ and “NFTs“ might sound like jargon, but they’re actually quite simple concepts that are changing the way we think about digital assets.
A blockchain is essentially a digital ledger of transactions. It’s a decentralized, secure way of recording and storing data. A non-fungible token is a type of cryptocurrency that is built on top of blockchain technology.
It represents a unique asset, such as a piece of digital art or a virtual world item. What’s great about NFTs is that they can be bought, sold, or traded like any other asset. But because they’re built on blockchain technology, they’re also secure and immutable.
Season One: The First NFT Café Space in NYC
So, how does all this relate to coffee? Well, Dan and Nick decided to use the power of NFTs to see if they could create a community-driven project that would fund coffee initiatives. But the beginning wasn’t easy, according to Dan.
“Many people are still suspicious regarding cryptocurrencies,“ he says. “It was a challenge to convince people that this was a serious project. We were not experts ourselves and we are still learning a lot. At first, we tried to launch the project and it failed miserably. But a few months later, we decided to give it another shot and it’s been incredibly successful. We’re now on the verge of opening our first NFT-funded café space in NYC!“
Together with lead illustrator Tony Bui, they created a fun-loving and caffeinated bunch of 60 hand-drawn characters and put them up for grabs on Rarible for purchase through an NFT currency called ethereum (ETH). In exchange, buyers got not only these characters, but perks like voting rights on where the company and the project is headed, plus merch and coffee discounts. The team divided their goals into seasons, with season one being all about funding the opening of their first NFT-funded café space in NYC.
The process of converting digital data into digital assets recorded on the blockchain is called minting. As creators of the work, Coffee Bros. get to set the mint prices. The characters were placed into three rarity levels, which allowed them to vary mint counts and pricing. In total, 455 mints were created, and the team managed to raise $200k in four months!
Season Two: The First All-Encompassing Caffeine Experience
Inspired by the success of its first season, the team is currently launching season two of their project. This time around, they’re partnering with Cup of Excellence to scout potential farming partners in Honduras.
As Dan explains, the goal is to have a direct relationship with a coffee farm and use the Crypto Baristas project to invest in that farm’s processing and post-harvest capabilities.
“We’re submitting our best lots into competitions like the Cup of Excellence to help secure 4x+ the value. That, in turn, will allow us to raise the price of all other coffees coming from the farm,“ Dan says. As Coffee Bros. monitors the progress of the Honduran farm, they will compare its before-and-after quality to assess the success of their lots.
The team is also looking to use the project to establish a transparent farm-gate price for their partner farm. Coffee Bros. believe that by displaying the farm-gate price and production costs, they can help push for change in the way consumers think about the coffees they’re buying.
Ultimately, the goal is to use the Crypto Baristas project to create a sustainable and transparent business model that can be replicated by other coffee companies. Nick and Dan have published their season two white paper, breaking down all the ways they plan to use the project to enact real change in the coffee industry.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vasileia Fanarioti (she/her) is a freelance copywriter and editor with a primary focus on the coffee niche. She has also been a volunteer copywriter for the I’M NOT A BARISTA NPO, providing content to help educate people about baristas and their work. You can follow her adventures at thewanderingbean.net.