We understand that the auction process can be a new experience:

Below you will find answer to the questions we get asked the most about our auctions. If you have any questions about how to bid on the platform, check the how to bid page on our menu.

  • Q. Do I have to register to bid in the auction?

    Yes, to bid in our auction you have to first register with us. This means we know who you are and that you understand and accept our Terms & Conditions. Once your registration has been accepted you can begin bidding.

  • Q. How do I take part in the auction?

    To take part in an auction you will first need to register on our Sensible Coffee website, this is a one time process. As every auction is unique you will need to apply to bid for each auction you wish to participate in. For some auctions we have different bidding agreements, so in the auction page remember always to accept the bidding agreeement to be able to bid on the auction.

  • Q. Will my name be public during the auction?

    The identity of each Bidder will be anonymous and unknown to other Bidders prior to and during, the Internet Auction. Bidders will be identified by a random ‘Paddle Number’. The identity of the highest bidder for each Lot will be made public when the winners are declared at the end of the auction. The winners' details will be passed on to the producers and used to form the contract for the sale of the coffee. finalize shipping arrangements.

  • Q. How long does the auction last?

    The usual time allowed for the initial period (before all lots have received a bid) is an hour but will be determined by the number of lots and participating buyers. Once the clock starts ticking, it all depends on the level of demand. Do not be mistaken into thinking that this style of auction is over very quickly - expect several hours for specialty coffee auctions.

  • Q. How can I keep track of the auction in progress?

    Real-time updates are essential in a coffee auction where the auction clock is counting down quickly between bids, and it is what makes online systems perfect for this type of auction. We recommend that you have a fast stable internet connection for your auction participation.

  • Q. What happens if I win?

    If you are the highest bidder on a lot and there are not more bids before the timer reaches zero, you have won the lot and it is automatically reserved for you. Shortly after the auction you will receive an email confirming your win and a 10% deposit of the lot amount, along with our 12.5% commission will be added to your basket. You can then proceed to checkout to pay for and secure your coffee.

  • Q. Once I win a lot, how do I proceed to do the payment?

    Payment for auction lots is due in FULL 15 days after the auction date. Please ensure you are familiar with the Terms & Conditions you agree to when you register for the auction. If the winning Bidder does not pay the due amount within this time, the lots will be offered to the bidder who placed the second-highest bid.

    After the auction has closed we will be in touch with you to arrange payments, contracts and shipping. Once all these are agreed upon, payment will be made by bank or wire transfer. Other options are available and we can discuss those as they arise.

    For destinations that are not served by our certified coffee importers, payment in full is required prior to the coffee leaving the country of origin.

  • Q. How do I access samples of the lots in the auction?

    We have created hubs with trusted partners in UK, Greece, Korea and Saudi Arabia. If you are in any of these countries we can organize a cupping session for you or if you are in another country we can send you some samples of the lots you are interested in. For this you will just need to contact our Head of Coffee Nicolas Pastellopoulos through his email nicolas@sensibledevelopment.com

  • Q. How much does it cost to purchase a Samples on Sensible Coffee Auction Platform?

    We ship samples globally. Samples will be free of charge for the 2022 harvest season. You will be sent an invoice outlining their true value along with a 100% discount applied.

  • Q. How do you ensure the quality of the coffees listed on Sensible Coffee auctions?

    Every coffee submitted to a Sensible Coffee auction goes through a strict quality assessment and must meet our requirements before being listed in an auction.

    To be approved for auction, a coffee sample must:

    • Score above 84 SCA points
    • Be harvested within the last 6 months
    • Have moisture content between 9%-11%
    • Be free of any taints or faults
    • Have zero Category 1 defects and no more than five Category 2 defects in the SCA Standard Classification for Green Coffee (300g)
    • Be no more than 5% above or below the screen size indicated

    We make our quality assessments of coffee samples as transparent and accessible as possible. We provide cupping reports and feedback to coffee producers, so they can better understand their products, and publish our results on our lot information sheets for buyers so you know exactly what coffee you are bidding on.

  • Q. What information is available for each coffee?

    As part of our approval process we gather as many details as we can about each lot before publishing a coffee on our platform. This might include information like:

    • Producer or Cooperative name and story
    • Farm(s) location, altitude, history, workforce
    • Coffee variety, processing and farming techniques
    • Social and environmental responsibility
    • Harvest dates
    • Reserve Price and Location
    • Tasting notes, cup scores, moisture content

    This information is available to review prior to auction. Simply click on a lot listed on our Auction page to learn more.

  • Q. If you have already quality graded the coffee, why do you have the Hubs too?

    Few of the elements we feel passionate about here at Sensible Coffee is sustainability, respect to the farmer and lowering our carbon footprint and overall CO2 emissions. By visiting one of our partner hubs (usually roasters or importers themselves) we are able to collectively request less green coffee from farmers, respecting their work while at the same time this provides an incredible opportunity for networking and meeting other like minded professionals.

    Finally our mission revolves around the idea and belief that every coffee can find the right buyer. Across the world different people find different aspects of value in each coffee. This is what makes the auction so exciting for a producer. Therefore, although we make our own quality assessments for every sample, we strongly encourage you to contact our partner hubs or request a sample for interested lots.

    Trying the coffee yourself before you bid on a coffee ensures that this is the right coffee for you. As you might find something of value in the coffee that we otherwise didn’t. Or alternatively we may have valued a coffee higher than you do.

  • Q. How do I know the coffee I try in the Hubs and landed coffee will be the same?

    Quality and consistency are at the heart of long-term trust and relationships. It’s very important to us that the quality expectations you have in tasting a pre-auction sample are one and the same. One way we manage this is by ensuring the pre-auction sample you receive is the same as the sample we have graded.

    We have high expectations of all producers using our platform and have strict regulations regarding quality of pre-auction, pre-shipment and landed coffee.

    If there is ever a discrepancy between any samples or shipments you receive please notify us immediately and we will endeavour to investigate acting as an independent third party.

    We will request a sample to be send to us from your lot and we will match, score and evaluate it against our archived sample.

  • Q. What happens after I have won a coffee at auction?

    If you are the highest bidder for a Sensible Coffee auction lot and your bid is higher than the reserve price then you are the winner for that coffee. Upon winning an auction lot we require a 10% holding deposit that is payable upon the auction closing. This secures your commitment to that coffee (pending quality approval) and reassures the producer of their commitment to you.

    Once a lot is bought at auction the coffee has to go through approval, contract, payment and shipping: A 10% deposit is taken on the win of an auction lot and a 5% commission is added Once approved contracts for the coffee are drawn up between the buyer, seller and, where needed, partner service providers and importers. The sales contract will differ depending on each individual situation and preferred payment method (see ‘What is a coffee contract?’ section for more details) Coffee is then scheduled for shipment. Coffee will be priced as FOB in the auction. The auction will highlight and breakdown FOT and logistic costs. This will be based on quotations received from our trusted shipping partners at the time of the auction. All buyers will be liable for the FOB costs along with the freight forwarding costs from our chosen Hub to the final destination. Once landed the Buyer then has 5 days to approve the landed coffee. If landed coffee is rejected then Sensible Coffee will step in to manage resolutions and, where appropriate, arbitration.

    The post-auction process is an important part of the relationship. Therefore it is important that both Producer and Buyer are responsive and timely in their communications to ensure that coffee is shipped, the Buyer receives their coffee and the Producer gets paid in good time. Therefore if either party remains unresponsive for over 5 working days in any communications the transaction may be void and deposits lost.

    If, for any reason:

    The Buyer decides to discontinue the process, or become unresponsive in communications (more than 5 working days), then they will lose their 10% deposit, which will be paid to the producer to compensate for the lost opportunity. The Producer decides to discontinue the process, or becomes unresponsive in communications (more than 5 days), then the transaction will be seen as void and the Buyer will receive their 10% deposit back

  • Q. What is a sales contract?

    A sales contract outlines the details of the agreement between the buyer and seller. This includes details about the shipping and delivery of the coffee, such as the quantity, weight, quality, freight, samples and insurance, as well as approval and payment.

    The terms of the contract sets out the responsibilities of both parties. We recommend one of the below contracting methods, each working on the basis of the coffee being FOB or FOT (see below section on ‘What does FOB and FOT mean?’ for more details). Each of these methods work for producers as well as buyers. They create mutual trust and the responsibilities are clear to both sides:

    A) Advance payment

    B) Letter of Credit (LC)

    C) Cash Against Document (CAD)

    D) A combination of advance payment & CAD

    These types of contracts all offer protection in different ways and in some cases one will work better than the other. A contract between a producer and buyer can be unique due to the numerous details included in each transaction. Therefore every contract drawn up after the closing bid on a coffee auction is handled individually and tailored to the seller, buyer and context to mutually benefit both parties. A contract will be drawn between the seller and Sensible Development who will act as the buyer. This allows us to work with one exporter and one importer to our chosen import hub. It also allows us to consolidate all the coffees into one shipment which is more cost efficient for all parties involved. Sensible development will then raise separate contracts for each buyer between Sensible Development (who becomes the seller) and the final buyers.

  • Q. How do I get my coffee from origin to destination?

    One of the biggest challenges in buying coffee directly from origin is shipping, finance and logistics. Our team will be with you every step of the way to provide shipping solutions and logistics support along the way. Whatever your set-up, our after sales team at Sensible Coffee is there to help you bring your coffee safely home.

    We use secure and transparent payment technology, working in all types of currency. This ensures that your funds are safe until you have approved the coffee and that you can rest assured that the producer receives the money you have paid.

    Please get in touch with us at hello@sensible.coffee to learn more about our assisted shipping services.

  • Q. What does FOB and FOT mean?

    Most of the coffees on Sensible Coffee are listed as FOB, which stands for “free on board”. FOB is only used for transport via sea or inland waterways. FOB means that the seller is liable for the goods, export clearance and loading of goods onto the vessel at the named and agreed port location. The liability changes to the buyer as soon as the goods have passed over the ship's rail at the named port of shipment. With FOB contracts the seller's obligations are fulfilled when the goods have passed over the ship's rail at the port of shipment. From here the coffee becomes the responsibility of the buyer.

    Other contracts of carriage which are sometimes used are FOT (free on truck) and FOR (free on rail). FOT and FOR are used mainly in landlocked contexts where it may prove costly for producers to transport their coffee to port. In these occasions the seller’s obligations are fulfilled when the goods have passed over the truck's tailgate or the railcar's loading gate at the agreed loading location. FOT and FOR coffees can be transported to port by our logistics partners, however it is worth considering any additional costs involved in this process before bidding on an FOT or FOR lot. If you are unsure at all or have any questions, please contact the Sensible Coffee team.

  • Q. How much will it cost to ship my coffee?

    Shipping costs can vary depending on many factors. Lot size, origin, and destination, as well as insurance and consolidation, can all influence the cost of shipping coffee from the Producer to the Buyer. For this reason we aim to consolidate all coffees bought at an auction and ship it to our import hub to allow for cost efficiency for all buyers. Once the coffee has landed at our chosen import hub we can assist with arranging freight forwarding to your final destination.

    We will work to provide FOB estimates to our import hub prior to the auction for your convenience. Furthermore, we will also work to provide you with a freight forwarding quote to your final destination. In order to provide you with the quotations we will require information from such as the delivery address.

    Due to this we take each shipping quote on a case-by-case basis to calculate your exact requirements and finer details after the auction process. You can get in touch with our Logistics Manager Sarah Carrington who will be happy to assist you, just email her at sarah@sensibledevelopment.com

  • Q. What if the type of coffee I like is not listed on Sensible Coffee?

    We receive lots of samples from coffee producers every week. Some of these make it through to our auctions. Some do not. If you are looking for a particular type of coffee that isn’t listed in one of our auctions, get in touch with our coffee team, as we may have unlisted coffees that would meet your needs.


  • Q. How do I get in touch with a member of the Sensible Coffee team?

    Please feel free to email, write or call us with any questions.


    Sensible Coffee

    Vantage Point

    New England Road


    +44 (0) 1273 621110