Over the course of his career, András Koroknay-Pál has visited hundreds of farms in various coffee-producing countries and has had the best coffee experiences of his life together with the farmers. “If I drink coffee with similar flavour profiles in Finland, it takes me back to the moments I’ve spent in the countries of origin. There’s a strong association between taste and memorable experiences,” says Koroknay-Pál.
András Koroknay-Pál joined Paulig in 1999 while he was still a student. He first started drinking coffee when he was studying for his entrance exams. At Paulig, he found the opportunity to learn about the various complex flavours of coffee. It lit a fire in him that burns to this day.
“When you take a dive into the world of fresh, high-quality coffee, you get swept away by the incredible world of taste.”
In twenty years, Koroknay-Pál has grown into a top coffee professional, getting to know coffee particularly from the sourcing viewpoint. At present, he is responsible for green coffee sourcing at Paulig and makes regular visits to the countries of origin.
Koroknay-Pál is excited by and grateful for his job, because it brings him into contact with the entire value chain of coffee. He gets to meet farmers and talk with them about day-to-day life and, for example, the coffee culture in Finland. Enjoying a cup of coffee with farmers is always a memorable, valuable and comprehensive experience for him.
It is also a special moment for the farmers. There are 25 million coffee farms around the world. Few coffee farmers ever get to meet a coffee roaster and find out what markets their product ends up in.
“I get bombarded with questions when I meet the farmers. Being able to give them a package of coffee that is sourced from their farm is always a touching moment. Their sense of pride and joy is palpable.”
Koroknay-Pál says the best coffee experience of his life happened early one morning in Colombia with a local farmer, with the sun rising from behind the mountains.
“Flavours and aromas bring back memories. Later, when I drink coffee with similar flavour profiles in Finland, it takes me back to the moments I’ve spent with farmers in the countries of origin. There’s a strong association between taste and memorable experiences.”
Coffee must leave a pleasant aftertaste
At Paulig, sourcing is based on profound knowledge of the origin of coffee, and sustainability work is integral to Koroknay-Pál’s everyday work. At the end of 2018, long-term determined work bore fruit as Paulig achieved a key milestone in its sustainability work.
“In 2014, we made a promise that all of the coffee beans used by Paulig would come from verified sustainable sources by the end of 2018, and we achieved this goal at the end of last year. We buy more than 50 million kilograms of coffee annually, which corresponds to the total annual production of more than 75,000 medium-sized coffee farms. This means that our decisions and sustainability work have a genuine effect. As one of the first large roasteries in the world to do this, our sourcing policy makes us a forerunner in the entire coffee industry,” Koroknay-Pál says with pride.
The achievement of this milestone has required almost five years of long-term, close cooperation with partners and farmers.
“When talking about sustainability work, you should bear in mind that it is not a 100-metre sprint but rather an ultra marathon. We have built the supply chain determinedly together with our partners and farmers and have, for instance, trained farmers in sustainable and profitable farming practices,” Koroknay-Pál says and continues:
“In practice, this means that our green coffee sourcing team often visits coffee farms in the countries of origin, discusses with the farmers and partners and acts as the messenger between the consumers and farmers. Coffee drinkers want to know who produced the coffee they’re having but farmers equally want to know where the coffee they farmed with passion ends up and who drinks it. Sustainability means first and foremost genuine action and caring for the entire chain – all the way from bean to cup and back.”
For Koroknay-Pál, coffee is a delicacy that is meant to leave a pleasant aftertaste.
“In my opinion, there is no question that sustainably produced coffee tastes better. If I could, I would take every Finnish coffee drinker to a farm somewhere in the world to show them where the coffee comes from. How small the farms are and how much passion the farmers have for what they do. It is truly an eye-opening experience. They are memories that get under your skin.”