Americans have become coffee connoisseurs who areable to differentiate between coffee beans from all over the globe with amazing accuracy. Coffee is one of the commodities that is not subject to quotas by the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. You can import, duty free, bags of two kilograms or less of roasted coffee beans that are already packaged for retail sale. The packages should be marked in legible English with the country of origin.
Arrange to become a coffee bean importer by negotiating a signed legal contract with a coffee grower who wants to export beans to the United States. The contract should name you as a representative. It could even designate which territory is yours to exclusively sell the beans from this coffee grower. It should describe the terms of payment, including how and when you will pay the grower any commissions or if your purchase is outright.
Open an irrevocable commercial line of credit with your bank so that you can import coffee and pay all of the fees involved. The line of credit will specify the ports from which the exporter will ship the coffee to you and to which they will be delivered. It will list the terms that must be fulfilled before the money can be released to the exporter. It will also list the documents that the coffee grower has to provide along with the shipment: the invoice, bills of lading, packing slip and a certificate of insurance.
Check to make sure that the coffee beans have been shipped according to the agreed schedule. When you receive notice that they have arrived, you should also receive the export documents from the grower, who will receive the funds according to the terms in the line of credit. You will need these documents to get the coffee beans through customs and into the United States.
Process the coffee beans through customs yourself if you are importing £1,300 or less worth of beans and if you are going to sell them in your own store. Otherwise, if you are importing more than this value of beans or you are going to market them through a distributor to other vendors, you must hire a customs broker to facilitate the entry of the beans into the United States.
Arrange to transport the coffee beans to your store. Make sure that you have a marketing plan in place to promote your imported coffee to your customers. If your coffee is officially designated Fair Trade coffee, you may have an advantage in selling it because your customers will be assured that the labourers who worked on the coffee plantation were paid a living wage.
Things you need
- letter of credit
- customs broker
- shipper's export declaration (if you are importing more than £1,625 worth of coffee beans)
- marketing plan
- contract with coffee grower