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Bellwether Coffee raise signals consumer demand for supply transparency

ImpactAlpha, August 28 – Bellwether Coffee is a tough startup to pin down: it makes a coffee roaster that cafes and grocers can use to roast their own coffee, and it’s a coffee supply chain player, sourcing beans from about 20 farms and providing customers with clear information about who produces its coffee.

Its business model is also unique: it leases its roasters for a monthly fee, and then allows its subscribers to source beans directly from its partner farms, which they can select based on a variety of sustainability and social factors. Customers also have the option to “tip” farmers, offering the potential to improve farmer incomes. 

“We live in such a connected world now it really makes sense to enable consumers to know who made their coffee and where they are located. We really try to align the quality and the taste with the sustainability metrics,” CEO Nathan Gilliland told TechCrunch.

A group of investors have gotten behind the firm’s hybrid hardware-marketplace model with $10 million in Series A funding. Congruent Ventures led the round support from FusionX Ventures, Tandem Capital, New Ground Ventures, Hardware Club, XN Ventures and SolarCity’s founders. The Series A round follows a $6 million seed round in 2016.

Bellwether Coffee is among a growing number of startups trying to improve transparency in food and commodity supply chains. There’s also Uncommon Cacao in the cocoa industry; Provenance and Arc-net in the seafood industry; and a range of startups including Stellapps and FarmFolks focusing on strengthening India’s agriculture supply chains and helping farmers.

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