Sustainable Coffee Development Fieldwork


Need a sustainable coffee development specialist to help streamline your coffee supply chain?

I have led project teams, mentored, shared knowledge and collaborated with businesses, governments, NGOs, local civil society, citizens and donors. I have worked with national, state and local governments in Australia, and in Laos, East Timor, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Vietnam and the South West Pacific.

I use my specialist skills and 20+ years’ experience in the coffee and development sectors to successfully complete projects with lasting and sustainable impacts.

See some of my coffee advocacy and development work in detail below.

Supply Chain Appraisal

International Women Coffee Alliance (IWCA), global

Result My research uncovered the social, economic and business factors that limit efficiency for small coffee producers. The SWOT informed IWCA strategic planning and was also used for case studies promoting International Coffee Day 2018.


Since 2017, I have coordinated action for effective engagement of women in coffee supply chains. I created a metadata analysis covering the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of the coffee business environment across 22 IWCA countries.  

Nicole leveraged her extensive, in-field and research experience to develop country context resources to significantly strengthen IWCA’s communications resources. Without question, Nicole’s expertise and her friendly approach to sharing it, made it possible for IWCA’s awareness building to transition to a new level.
— Kellem Emanuele, President, IWCA Global Board of Directors

My analysis determined that restoring coffee requires transformation in practices, knowledge, investment and commitment in both the short and long-term. 

Result My research encouraged traders, donors and NGOs to move from standard training coffee manuals to incorporating traditional knowledge, language and culture as a basis to support shifting cultivators to embrace more sustainable practices. 

Read my article How Producers in Laos Are Turning to Specialty Coffee

CARE International, Laos

I conducted supply chain research in Duk Chueng district, Laos, with non Lao-Thai diverse ethnic groups. They traded traditional subsistence agriculture for coffee cash crops to pay school and medical fees and buy other goods and services.

My research highlighted knowledge gaps for coffee growers, a huge obstacle in the transition from shifting cultivation to commercial horticulture. This gap has resulted in passive, unproductive coffee cultivation with poor selective harvesting and post-harvest treatment, poor hygiene and weak value chain links.

Which, in turn, leads to poor quality coffee in low quantities and unsustainable livelihoods.


Case Studies of Origin, Terroir & Supply Chain Value-Adding

Result I identified opportunities for improved productivity, workload reduction, integrated farming systems, good agricultural practices, access to finance and basic business planning, as well as value add processes and women’s economic empowerment.

CARE adopted all of my findings into their Boost Sustainable Coffee Production in Laos project. 

Read my article Why Some Farmers Struggle to Produce Specialty Coffee

CARE International, Laos

In 2017, I developed case studies on the contribution of coffee production to household consumption and expenditure in Sekong Province in Laos.

I held participatory farmer meetings with more than 100 coffee producers and met with government agencies, coffee collectors, commodity traders and coffee retailers. I liaised with the international Speciality Coffee Association to validate and align my findings with current global market quality requirements.

Nicole understands that coffee is a people business and that the producers, whether big or small, are equally important to the industry and have a story to tell. Her recent publications are well researched, highly readable and informative, so much so that I look forward to reading whatever she produces next.
— Mick Wheeler, Former Executive Director of the Specialty Coffee Association

Result The case study helped traders understand how a single variable can be the root cause of a supply chain problem. Growers then began to coordinate their harvest so that there was enough to fill a large truck that could ford the river during harvest season.

I prepared a case study of Tam My village that highlighted their inability to cross a river during coffee harvest season. This was contrasted with nearby Dak Vo and Dak Vang villages which had better access.

I worked with Nicole when she was hired to design a full project based on a concept note that I had prepared for the EU SWITCH Asia II. She gently challenged me on weaker areas of the concept note and developed a design that met the criteria in a more robust and pragmatic way than what had originally been envisaged.

We later worked on a couple of other project designs and bids together, and on developing stories for Perfect Daily Grind. Nicole is highly principled and is committed to speaking truth to power when needed.
— Adam Folkard, Resource Mobilisation Specialist at Plan International in Laos

Result These case studies helped farmers consider the link between price and practice. For a farmer to simply grow and harvest coffee cherry to sell to a collector may provide the lowest risk but it’s also the lowest return option available.

In Laos, I worked with coffee producers, collectors and traders to understand price points and other variables to help them connect their skills, readiness for change, environmental context and resources. For example, the processing and trading of parchment initiated the beginning of change.

Nicole’s private sector approach to CARE’s work was extremely helpful in linking our community-based experience to market-based practices, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of our work.
— Alison Rusinow, CARE Country Director, Vietnam

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Denmark's development cooperation organisation (Danida), Vietnam

Between 2005 and 2007 in Vietnam, I worked with IUCN, ADB and Danida to identify and quantify the trade-offs between competing uses of water and its use by the agriculture, industry and energy industries.

My findings identified that past processes had focused on planning, rather than implementation, giving projects little budget certainty. As such, the priority needs of community members were rarely addressed.

Result My work identified new opportunities for supply chain actors such as coffee traders and processors. It also highlighted the importance of engaging communities in ways that would give them both agency and control.

Nicole Motteux and I worked together on the United States-Asia Environmental Partnership Program in Vietnam. It was a time of great change in Vietnam. Nicole supported high-level Government leaders to understand environmental water flows as well as the trade-offs between allocations based on economic efficiency versus social justice objectives. Nicole’s work led to positive change in Vietnam’s water and environment sector.
— Pham Thuy Diep, Program Coordinator Ministry of Science and Technology, Vietnam

Quality Assurance of Shared Value Investments

Result My findings identified processes focused on planning, not implementation and projects that had little budget certainty. In the absence of secure budgets and effective participatory approaches, the priority needs of community members were rarely addressed.

This created opportunities for supply chain actors such as coffee traders and processors. It also highlighted the importance of engaging communities in ways that give them both agency and control.

World Bank

In 2016, I led a World Bank stocktake of participatory approaches in Laos to assess how development works and the effectiveness and efficiency of different ways of engaging villagers. 

I used a rapid appraisal approach – reviewing existing literature and reports supported by semi-structured interviews with Government staff, donors, NGOs and private sector actors at national, provincial and district levels.


Design & Delivery of Shared Value Investments

CARE International

Result In 2018, the intervention design attracted investment in the Boost Sustainable Coffee Production in Laos project. 

I supported CARE to develop inclusive and sustainable coffee value chains in Laos that enabled coffee growers to improve food security and reduce under-nutrition. 

World Food Program (WFP)

In 2016, I prepared an investment concept note for the WFP Global Agriculture and Food Security Program to strengthen community-driven agriculture-based nutrition interventions in coffee growing regions of Laos. The aim was to support food security and nutrition activities.

As local planning is still in its infancy in Laos and is normally only applied at village level with the support from projects, Nicole’s insights into best practice and opportunities to improve the process were invaluable.
— Celestine Kroesschell, Country Director Laos, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation

ACLEDA Bank and Agriculture Promotion Bank, Laos

Result The banks were better able to engage with entrepreneurs and provide ongoing support, advice and resources to transform coffee grower enterprises. Women and youth were given particular access to finance and financial literacy activities.

During 2015 and 2016, I supported two commercial banks to engage with prospective clients in coffee growing provinces. My work helped these banks build a better understanding of coffee producer needs and intermediary investments, risks and supply chain opportunities and challenges.

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

In 2016, I assisted the UNCDF to connect with coffee value chain actors in Laos to launch Digital Finance discussions. These built on the MoKash experience in Uganda.

Australian Department of Agriculture and the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

In 2014, I facilitated a two-day workshop in Dili, Timor-Leste, for the Timor-Leste Village Poultry Health and Biosecurity Program. The aim of the workshop was to engage program stakeholders to hear and collate their ideas for inclusion in the program. I prepared a program implementation plan, monitoring and evaluation framework and risk management plan in collaboration with the key project partners and stakeholders.

Outspan Bolovens Ltd and CARE International

In 2015, I worked with Outspan and CARE to produce certified productivity improvements. Their aim was to promote sustainable production throughout the coffee supply chain in central Vietnam and southern Laos.

Nicole can develop programs that require communication, coordination and negotiation with individuals, families, communities, government agencies, donors, NGOs and private sectors. She strives for, and is able to integrate and balance, the interests of the relevant stakeholders into the project design and implementation.

I very much appreciate her enthusiasm in all her projects, following up on an innovative, collaborative, accountable and ethical approach seeking for environmentally and socially responsible development. Nicole will go the “extra mile” to make any of her projects successful.
— Karsten Ziebell, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Manager Outspan Bolovens Limited, Laos