FROM BEAN TO BREW
BEHIND THE SCENES OF COFFEE PRODUCTION
It’s easy to take a cup of coffee for granted. You can brew a pot at home, snag a cup at your local gas station or push a few buttons on your office Mars Drinks machine for a quick pick-me-up. For most of us, it’s simple to get a daily caffeine fix.
But the process that goes into making your coffee is far from simple. As our Mars Associates learned on their recent trip to Kenya with the Mars Ambassador Program (MAP), making quality coffee is a labor-intensive process that requires serious attention to detail.
Learning about coffee can be a life-changing experience. In late 2012, seven Mars Drinks Associates did just that, traveling from all over the globe to meet in Kenya and learn about the coffee farming process. While there, they learned about how Mars Drinks supports and improves the farming business through a partnership with Sustainable Management Services (SMS), an organization dedicated to sustainable coffee. During their week-long trip, that objective was met, and the experience became much more than a simple learning opportunity.
“The quality of coffee in Kenya is staggering. We joked about how many different times in the process it is sorted. It made me realize I would never again complain about the cost of a cup of coffee, nor let anyone else,” said Maxine Harvey, Distributor Executive based in Ontario. “It also made me so proud of who we are as a Drinks business; we care about empowering the farmers we work with and striving to make our partners stronger and better equipped through their relationship with us.”
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF COFFEE
Our friends at SMS have helped Mars Drinks increase the productivity and vibrancy of the coffee farming business in Kenya. The cooperative farmers receive training from SMS to educate them on how to increase the quality, marketability, and volume of their product — all while following the guidelines of Good Agricultural Practices and Rainforest Alliance certification.
“I realized that selling or buying coffee in Europe can have great repercussions in third world countries,” said Frédéric Finot, Direct Sales Representative, based in France. “Sustainability is not just a marketing operation but is a way of living and needs to be sponsored by everyone.”
Daniela Roesler, Team Leader for Customer Care based in Germany, hoped that her visit to Kenya showed the farmers how far their work reaches. “To me, it was important to show the farmers that someone like me, with long blond hair and light skin, who probably looks like an alien to them, genuinely cares about the coffee they produce in Kenya,” said Daniela.
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF MARS
For Ruth Pratt, European Single Serve Finance Manager based in the UK, the experience gave her a larger sense of her own job function. “My role in the company is within finance. It is rare that the finance team gets exposure like this to the realities of the supply chain and the work and commitment that delivers the products. The MAP experience has given me a deeper understanding and consideration of the impact of our decisions,” said Ruth.
“I now know how much work is involved in producing the best coffee beans and how passionate and dedicated you need to be to achieve this,” said Andy Strokosz, one of Mars Drinks’ Lead Operators, based in Basingstoke. “I really enjoyed the pride the farmers had for their coffee farms and their willingness to learn. Even though they have been growing coffee trees for generations, they are still willing to improve the quality and reach the certifications.”
From planting coffee trees, to hulling and polishing, to cupping and tasting Mars Drinks Associates touched every process of coffee production during their visit. While in Kenya, the Associates also had a chance to explore the landscape and meet the community. They spoke with local people from all walks of life about the environmental and social challenges existing in Kenya today. Despite sometimes tough conditions, the individuals they met were all welcoming, happy, and inspiring. At the end of the trip, each Ambassador said they felt overwhelming gratitude toward Mars for giving them this opportunity. More importantly, the Ambassadors said they wanted to be more mindful in all aspects of their lives.
For Ashley Singer, Recycle Your Freshpacks Program Administrator for North America, the opportunity to travel to Kenya with Mars made her even more proud to be a part of Mars Drinks. “It has been a privilege to travel to Kenya to focus on how our business can be more responsible,” she said. “I am so grateful to be able to do the work that I do for such a wonderful company. These values are instilled in me, even in my personal life.”
From bean to brew, and at every step in between, the MAP trip inspired a new passion for Drinks and for life.
From bean to brew, the process of making your cup of coffee is far from simple.