If your a fan of a good cup of espresso then it might be interesting to take a look at how your coffee actually gets into the stores.
The importing of coffee usually starts with completely processed and ready to be exported green coffee from its origin country. It is usually shipped in 20 foot containers in approximately 300 bags (around 60 kg) or less. However, you can also be purchase it in bulk, this will mean more beans to be shipped, so basically your shipping cost will be lowered on a pound or kilo basis.
From the United States, coffee is often bought by individual roasters or importers through a Free On Board contract (also known as FOB). Through this contract you will have all the expenses included in the purchasing price such as dock fees, warehousing, inland transport, processing, loading the container onto the ship and export fees. Once the container passes over the rail of the ship, you will have full ownership of the product.
In order for you to import coffee successfully, the exporter will need a bank that can support international interbank transactions, mostly one that has experience in all the requirements of an export documents. However, if this requirement is not fulfilled, the exporter will require you several payment terms such as CAD (or Cash Against Documents).
A Cash Against Documents transaction will allow the exporter to have his payment deposited into his account after he presents the required documents to the bank which prove that the coffee purchased by you, the importer, meets all the specifications mentioned in the agreement.
The exporter will usually use an Expert Broker from the origin country that is specialized in these kind of matters and who can arrange everything that is involved in the coffee documents that are needed for the export. However, you should be careful because importing coffee can be associated with several risks. Although you may receive samples of your future purchase, in most cases it can turn out that what you receive does not match the type, source and quality grade that you seek.