Mobile app brews coffee transparency

Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
Dan Ochwat profile picture
Thank My Farmer app from Farmer Connect, IBM

A new IBM-powered consumer mobile app is giving coffee drinkers a way to trace the quality and origin of participating private branded coffees and national branded coffees. The Thank My Farmer app is meant to enable brands to be more transparent on sustainability and to provide a direct link between consumer and farmer, maker Farmer Connect said. 

Farmer Connect is a tech startup out of Switzerland, which developed a traceability platform for the app that is powered by IBM Blockchain and the same technology behind its IBM FoodTrust blockchain technology.

The company worked with a group of large coffee producers to develop the platform and launch the app. Companies include Beyers Koffie, a major private-label coffee producer in Europe, that is creating a single-origin brand, Beyers 1769, to be accessed through the app when it launches later this year. Other coffee companies involved include JDE, J.M. Smucker Co. (which owns Folgers), RGC Coffee, Volcafe Ltd., Sucafina Group, and Yara International.

The app will expand throughout the year as it includes more large and small coffee brands. Consumers with the app will be able to scan a QR code on packages to get the origin and farmer information. The info is pulled directly from the blockchain, showing the consumer an interactive map of where the farm and coffee is being sourced.

Users will also be able to donate money directly to a farmer where a coffee they love is sourced via the app.

"The aim is humanizing each coffee drinker's relationship with their daily cup," said David Behrends, founder and president of Farmer Connect. "Consumers now can play an active role in sustainability governance by supporting coffee farmers in developing nations. Through the blockchain and this consumer app, we're creating a virtuous cycle." 

The app debuted with IBM and Farmer Connect at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

"This project is another example of how blockchain technology can enable a channel for real change," said Raj Rao, general manager of IBM Food Trust. "Blockchain is more than aspirational business tech, it is used today to transform how people can build trust in the goods they consume. For business, it can drive greater transparency and efficiency."