Earlier this month, our head of blockchain and sustainability, Mel Vera, held a workshop during EthDenver’s impact track. At this ‘hacker workshop,’ Abira presented the challenges of the coffee industry’s supply chain and sustainability insights.
The goal was to provide hackers with an opportunity to solve real-world problems affecting the coffee industry by using Abira’s operational insights and data. Post conference, hackers started working on solving these coffee-specific inefficiencies and problems described by Mel. Integrated blockchain has the potential to modernize the coffee industry to create more transparency for producers, and Abira hopes to internally test cases presented by hackers in order to further understand blockchain’s capabilities and effectiveness.
There are multiple processes in the coffee industry that, with verified transparency, can usher the industry into a whole new generation of coffee. The era of coffee blockchain is upon us!
First, what is blockchain? Blockchain is a decentralized platform where many types of solutions can be built. According to the Blockchain Education Network Playbook, ‘blockchain’ is a series of ‘blocks’ of data, or lists of records, that are individually logged by different computers. Each data list, AKA ‘block’, links to the previous block, forming a chain. If you modify any single block, the entire chain is broken. This makes blockchain a secure way to log and protect information from manipulation.
Coffee and blockchain can potentially integrate in many ways: supply chain oversight, farmer tipping, insurance, sales, agricultural positioning, and more. Companies are piloting different solutions, and frankly, we at Abira recognize that one size does not fit all due to the complex nature of coffee’s supply chain.
In our particular case, Abira runs 11 farms, 4 wet mills, and two warehouses, many of which are under renovations (infrastructure, reforestation, pest control, bird and water conservation, etc). Day to day activities include cherry collection and transportation, tree maintenance, cherry processing, inventory management, and lab analysis, just to name a few. Each of these processes are highly prone to human error or manipulation and discrepancies are possible at any moment.
The blockchain community has a saying: prove, don’t trust- meaning confirm the statement before presenting the data as a fact. Following this credo can help lead us towards more accurate data and a deeper understanding of our processes, inefficiencies, externalities, and impact. Blockchain can also save Abira time and money by improving processes and creating transparency across all stakeholders throughout our processes- it’s a win-win!
But how do we integrate blockchain? There are many different options: you can create your own blockchain (public/private) or you can work with a blockchain company to do so. Our team decided to share our challenges with a community of coders, hoping their technical minds could generate innovative solutions.
Mel Vera, Abira’s director of blockchain & sustainability, held the ‘Coffee Sustainability through Blockchain’ workshop at EthDenver’s hackathon event earlier this month.EthDenver is one of the top blockchain hackathons in the world. A ‘hackathon’ is essentially a software developers’ competition, where different cases are presented and hackers are rewarded for creating the most effective & unique solution.
Mel’s workshop introduced the complexities of coffee production and flow of supply chain information. Abira partnered with Blockchain Education Network (a non-profit organization) to share our case with the hacker community and present the opportunity to build a real-world solution with a social enterprise. People were excited to help Abira overcome it’s internal hurdles and advance towards producing coffee for the greater good.
There were three particular solutions that connected strongly connected with Abira’s intentions. We will test how our current software integrates with these blockchain solutions during the remainder of the year and work towards operating as a fully integrated, transparent coffee producer.
Lastly, Mel was one of the judges during the social impact track (competition). The ‘hackathon’ generated innovative ideas from several talented hackers full of creative ideas to help the world through Blockchain.
This was an exciting moment for us in EthDenver, both introducing our project to the blockchain community and participating in groundbreaking discussions. It was extra special that it was in Denver, where we have several roasting partners roasting and serving coffee from our home in Salgar, Colombia.
To learn more about Abira and what we’re up to, click here.