With three generations of coffee growers in the family, Third Wave Coffee Source has sprung from a rich tradition of coffee. Our passion for exquisite beans goes beyond meeting the discerning expectations of the third wave coffee movement. We are third generation coffee growers in San Marcos, Guatemala.
Our story really begins with Don Samuel Coto senior (1910-1992) who purchased Finca El Platanillo from Mr. Manfredo Lipmann in 1977. Don Samuel originally focused on volume production, and continued to successfully manage the farm until 1985. In 1985, Mr. Stuardo Coto, Don Samuel’s son, took control.
Stuardo, like his father, is an entrepreneur who, guided by a vision of sustainability, started working with this father at the farms, where he soon realized that it was vertical integration what would allow for his coffee to be sold in the most direct and cost effective way possible. Therefore, as part of this vision his father and him decided to build a dry mill in order to both have better control over the processing of their coffee, and also with the objective of taking control over their own exports and thus being able to trade directly with importers and roasters. In October 1991, and with the help of Don Humberto Pena (the dry mill’s general manager and master cupper) they built Su Beneficio (link de Su Beneficio).
Su Beneficio, aka SUBE S. A., started out processing the coffees from El Platanillo, and other farms in San Marcos. The producer/exporter way of trading coffee really took off in the early 90's in Guatemala, and this made SuBe an interesting option as it was now an experienced entity that focused on estate coffees. Soon after and during the first couple of years, farms from all over the country whose owners were looking to get in on the producer exporter way of trading coffee began to bring their coffees to SUBE. Although volume production of commercial coffees was at the heart of what Sube was doing then, its most uncommon feature was the fact that it was one of the very few state of the art dry mills that was able (willing) to process small (one container) lots and handle them separately. At the time microlots weren't really happening just yet.
During these first years of Sube's existence, Stuardo attempted what is now almost an industry standard for specialty coffees, he tried to sell coffee directly from Finca El Platanillo. To attempt this idea, he set up shop at SCAA 1995 in Long Beach, CA and his booth promoted farm direct coffees, however, it was too soon and the industry was not yet ready. The project didn't go as planned, and Stuardo ceased from trying the direct trade route for another 10 years.
In 2001, by now a well known specialty coffee dry mill, Sube was selected as processing and warehousing facility for the first ever Cup of Excellence event in Guatemala. The CoE coffees were processed in Sube for the subsequent 8 years. This very demanding job actually served as a training period for Sube and its employees who learned first hand how to handle truly exceptional coffees with the special care they require. This opportunity also endowed Sube with Guatemala's specialty coffee farmers' trust, which has allowed Sube to maintain many high quality coffee producers in its client roster ever since. By 2013 Samuel Coto, Stuardo's oldest son, joined Stuardo in the journey of making a way for a true direct trade. It was then when Third Wave Coffee Source sprung as the next step to selling farm direct coffees. The original founding partnership lasted only until early 2014 when both of the branches, once TWCS USA and TWCS UK, became independent of each other. Currently, Samuel operates Third Wave Coffee Source USA with his team. With full independence from each other, each iteration of TWCS is versatile and can adapt to the many changing environments of the specialty coffee market. The most valuable strength of TWCS USA is that this chain is full vertically integrated. Being part of the Coto family, TWCS USA led by Samuel is in a sense the most direct coffee trading purveyor from Guatemala. This strength lies in the fact that TWCS USA acts through SUBE in order to both select, buy, process, and export its coffees so that when TWCS USA delivers the coffee to the roaster, Samuel has been the only person in between the Producer and the Roaster. This allows for better allocation of the resources along the chain, better communication and also more transparent trading as we are not bound by either the "C" market or local markets. The prices are set by the producers, and by allowing them to determine their prices, we are able to fulfill their expectations given the fact that their coffee is worth every penny.