One of the reasons Colleen King wanted to work at CCS was that we work outside of the C Market - setting prices based on quality instead of the tumultuous futures market price. She decided to take her experience sourcing coffee in this way, and turn them into conversations to learn about other specialty industries. How does Dandelion Chocolate navigate sourcing cacao? How does Burlap & Barrel find farmers in Indonesia to do custom processing for their single origin spices? Why is the honey industry trying to institute blockchain? She covers all of these things and more on her new podcast: Sourceress.
This week, we took a deep dive into the process behind the podcast itself in addition to how Colleen’s experience within the coffee industry has contributed to her understanding of other markets.
1. What do you most want people to know about “Sourceress?”
The goal of Sourceress is to highlight and elevate voices from the sourcing world that are deliberately working outside of “standard” systems of trade. Instead, they are creating new systems for their sourcing that empower people, enhance quality, and consider climate impact, power structures, plant and product integrity. Also, we talk about so much more than coffee!
2. What lessons do you bring from your years of working within the specialty coffee industry?
Having worked at both a commodity trading importer, and a fully transparent sourcing company, I have seen two very different approaches to trading coffee. I also understand the challenges experienced by roasters and cafe owners.
The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that it is possible to source outside of the C Market for all coffees on the menu, but it must be built into the business model. Also, it’s never too late to make a plan to change the structure of your buying. it may take a year to transition, but it is possible regardless of scale.
3. Where do you record “Sourceress”, and how is it built for human connection and storytelling?
Almost all of the episodes were recorded on site - from NYC, to the California Coast, to Addis, Ethiopia. In a few cases cases, we did phone interviews.
We strongly believe that an intersectional lens is the best way to facilitate human connection in storytelling. The format of the podcasts allows for us to go really deep, while maintaining accessibility by breaking down complex concepts in the first five minutes. The interview is the bulk of the episode, and our music segments are a fun way engage with the culture of the area where the ingredient is sourced.
4. What do you enjoy most about exposing your listeners to these insights on various products? Do you think that listeners have the potential to contribute to more sustainable and informative consumerism based on your stories?
I do! I love that our listeners are essentially learning ingredient and trade literacy. They can then apply that knowledge however it makes sense to them.
5. What does this new podcast say about your evolution as a storyteller and content creator—in a time when content platforms are changing?
Great question! I’m really proud of my overall growth as a storyteller this year. To produce something that is audio only is very interesting, because it is intended for individual listening. I’ve found that it’s more challenging than my writing pieces, but similar in that I feel like I’m speaking directly to one person, instead of thousands.
We did decide to add a visual element by creating a social media presence. In visual, we were forced to make technical and heavy subjects fun and approachable, while leaning on the episodes for the most educational content.
6. What are you curious about right now — to talk about on“Sourceress?”
I can’t wait for our cannabis week. We have a five episode drop for that one, with voices that are really important to elevate in such a booming, early stage industry.
Follow Sourceress here.
Listen to Sourceress, free of charge, here.