As the Waves platform grows in maturity, the ecosystem surrounding it becomes more diverse by the day. As the CEO of the platform Sasha Ivanov once proclaimed, he realized that any business or organization, no matter how big or small, no matter what industry, could find a useful purpose for the blockchain. The Waves platform, as it stands, provides a simple solution that makes token creation.
One untapped industry yet to move to the blockchain is that of the coffee industry. With coffee being the second most sought-after commodity in the world with a market cap of $48 billion dollars, it was time for this special bean to move to the blockchain.
CoffeeCoin is doing just. In order to get a better insight into this new Waves token, I chatted with the owner of CoffeeCoin, James Allen. The interview covers how he got to where he is now, to the cryptocurrency situation in Indonesia, to obviously the utility behind the CoffeeCoin itself.
Upon reading the interview, it will become very apparent that James has been driven solely by his passion for coffee and the relationships he has built throughout his journey. It is also wonderful to read how real-life problems are truly being solved by the blockchain.
Q: Tell us about yourself, how you got into the coffee business and what brought you to blockchain technology.
– I first learned about Bitcoin in 2012 while living in New Zealand. I had been hearing about this new technology on a number of the free-market websites and newsletters I followed. To me, the private, decentralized peer-to-peer payment solution Bitcoin offered sounded like the perfect alternative to the nightmare the central banks had created in our world. It was then I downloaded my first Bitcoin wallet and purchased my first Bitcoins – they cost around USD $18 dollars each at the time – and started learning about and experimenting with blockchain technology.
In early 2013, my family and I left New Zealand for what was supposed to be a one-month trip to Bali, Indonesia. We fell in love with the place immediately though and ended up staying a year straight. (We’ve made it our part-time home ever since.)
Indonesia is the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world – so as a life-long coffee fanatic, I decided while I was there I’d use my free time to learn all I could about the production end of the coffee chain.
In Bali, I began visiting coffee farms there and in neighboring Java, meeting the incredible local farmers and their families and learning hands-on all I could about coffee growing, harvesting and processing. Soon I bought a locally-built coffee roaster that could roast 1 kilogram at a time. I began roasting coffee direct from the farms I visited, brewing and sharing the coffee with my friends in Bali. Many of my friends were also getting into Bitcoin – so this all came together during our coffee roasting, brewing and drinking sessions at our villa.
I learned quickly about the struggles coffee farmers were having – especially in terms of getting a fair price for their coffee. It seemed to me a lot of this had to do with inefficiencies in information flow, logistics, and payments throughout the supply chain. In Bitcoin and the decentralized ledger features of the developing blockchain technologies, I saw a potential for these inefficiencies to be addressed.
Initially, I felt I could help by showing people how Bitcoin could be used in real-world commerce. Bitcoin’s first main feature – as a decentralized global digital currency – meant that issues with multiple currency transfers and exchanges through the slow and expensive traditional banking system could be overcome by using Bitcoin instead of fiat.
All this led to “The Roast Station Project” in late 2013. I set up a simple webpage offering packages of fresh-roasted, direct from source Bali Arabica coffee in exchange for Bitcoin. I advertised on several of the Bitcoin discussion forums I was a member and got some additional press – all which generated quite a number of sales during the few months I ran the project. I received payments in Bitcoin – direct to my Bitcoin wallet – from buyers around the world.
At the time, there was no Indonesian Bitcoin exchange yet – BUT Bali was already a hub for other digital nomads – some who were more than happy to exchange local currency with me for bitcoin in-person. I was then able to purchase green coffee directly from the farmers for cash and roast and ship it to Bitcoin-supporting coffee drinkers around the globe. Here I was – using this amazing new technology, connecting local producers with global buyers and making global sales transactions – all without a single bank involved.
At that point, I was as hooked on blockchain tech as I was on coffee!
In early 2014, soon after the end of the Roast Station Project, the first Bitcoin bubble occurred. During that time, Bitcoin’s value in USD terms increased to over $1000. Before the first bubble burst, I used some of my bitcoin holdings to fund additional travel research into both the coffee supply chain and blockchain technology.
I visited coffee farms in Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Thailand and attended many coffee and bitcoin-related conferences, meetups, and trade shows in Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia.
From then on, I was determined to find more ways to use blockchain technology to improve the coffee supply chain.
Q: What current inefficiencies are there in the current international trade for coffee?
The inefficiencies are many – but it boils down to slow and large companies and too many middlemen using too much-outdated technology.
The international coffee trade has been around for nearly four-hundred years – some of the oldest and largest companies have held a stranglehold on the market for a long, long time. It has served them well to prevent farmers from knowing the value of their crops and to keep them in a state of perpetual debt with small yearly loans that they must struggle to pay back. All this has prevented both the quality of life for farmers and the quality of coffee from improving quickly.
That said, these companies have signed their own death warrant though, as they did not keep up with new and developing technologies – in fact, many of the largest coffee traders are still using FAX machines.
Meanwhile, small farmers now have smartphones and access to world coffee market prices and consumers are becoming more aware of how direct-sourced coffee benefits the producers. The time is right for a new way of buying and selling coffee.
Q: How do you aim to fix these inefficiencies with CoffeeCoin?
CoffeeCoin works as a “single currency” for rapid global transactions – which removes issues and loss of value in the global specialty coffee supply chain due to the current use of multiple currencies and exchange fees. CoffeeCoin (COF) can be traded easily and freely on the Waves Decentralized Exchange (DEX). This means, for example, a producer in Indonesia can sell his coffee directly to a buyer in America without going through the traditional system requiring banks, loans, and middlemen. The producer receives a better price for his coffee, the buyer receives a direct-trade high-quality specialty coffee.
As a utility token on the Waves network, CoffeeCoin transmits and preserves verifiable data on the blockchain ledger. This means it can be used for coffee contracts, pricing quotes, origin details and verification, shipment tracking and more. This can reduce or even eliminate the need for the multiple communications via fax, phone and email that are standard in the industry now. As the blockchain ledger is decentralized, data is immune from loss and alteration common to data stored on centralized servers.
Farmers and roasters can use CoffeeCoin to crowdfund sales and purchases of specialty coffee lots – so they don’t have to rely as heavily on loans and middlemen to keep their businesses and families afloat. This raises the value of the coffee for farmers, keeps both the farmers and roasters out of debt and increases business for the importers and exporters as they are still needed to help with the shipping logistics and customs paperwork for the coffee from source to the roaster.
Small-batch roasters will now have access to micro-lots of specialty-grade beans more directly from those willing to offer them. This opens up the door to thousands of boutique roasters who previously had limited access to smaller volumes of specialty grade beans. It also offers coffee farmers and cooperatives more opportunities to sell their best beans at a higher premium.
To showcase how the CoffeeCoin token can perform these functions, we have already developed our first working service. As of Oct. 16, 2017, our functioning prototype of CoffeeChain is live and is already using CoffeeCoin as the utility token for transmitting and preserving green coffee buy, sell and service offers on the blockchain.
Q: I see you are based in Malaysia and Indonesia, what is the state of blockchain technology adoption in these countries? Is there a big demand for Bitcoin and other alternative currencies?
Indonesia is not only the 4th largest producer of coffee in the world but also has a huge crypto supporting community. In fact, just last month Bitcoin.co.id, the country’s largest crypto exchange, added the WAVES token. Sasha Ivanov, the founder of Waves spoke at the recent blockchain conference in Bali Indonesia and while there he spoke with the head of Bitcoin.co.id and begin making plans to add an Indonesian Rupiah gateway to the Waves client too.
All of this bodes extremely well for the CoffeeCoin project, as we have many coffee sources in Indonesia. We will be able to use our platform right away for direct-from-source coffee transactions using CoffeeCoin, convertible instantly to Waves and then into local currency – all in-app – thanks to these developments.
After our token sale, once CoffeeCoin has liquidity on the Waves Dex, we plan to approach crypto exchanges in Indonesia and other coffee producing countries to have CoffeeCoin listed as well.
Being based in south-east Asia allows us access to not just Indonesian coffee, but also micro lots of high-grade Arabicas from Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand. Also, Singapore is at the heart of this region and gives us access to global coffee logistics providers along with a massive and growing community of blockchain developers and a crypto-friendly legislative regime.
Roasting in Thailand
Q: Why did you choose to host your coin on top of the Waves platform?
Waves were the first platform to offer what we needed for our project – a way to easily create a token that could be used both as a crypto-currency voucher and as a utility token that could transmit and preserve additional data on the blockchain. It only took a few minutes to create our token and our tech partners at Oceanlab.eu were able to easily integrate our token into our prototype coffee trading platform at https://CoffeeChain.io.
Furthermore, once the Waves NG protocol is live, Waves will be the world’s fastest blockchain, which means we’ll be able to scale our CoffeeCoin-powered coffee trading platform and tools to handle more transactions in the future.
Coffee Presentation in Kuala Lumpur
For full details and instructions on participation, along with our whitepaper and direct-from-farm videos please visit https://CoffeeCoin.io