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To be able to make Agiblocks the best solution it can possibly be, our developers and business specialists draw on their extensive knowledge about Commodity Trade Risk Management in general as well as about the business practices associated with particular commodities. On our blog page they share their knowledge with Agiblocks users and with the CTRM community at large. Updates on the Agiblocks solution will be announced and explained here.

Ecuadorian family cocoa business became a touristic attraction

Posted by Markos Gkogkos
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The Ecuadorian family cocoa business


In 90 hectares land in Ecuador, a small family started their own cocoa business with a cocoa plantation and chocolate production. When they realized that in their land lied the ruins of a historical villa, known as the Castillo (castle in Spanish), they didn’t lose the chance to offer besides their agricultural activities, touristic oriented services.


“Hacienda el Castillo” (The Castle Ranch), is the name of this family business located in the Cerecita Valley, west of Guayaquil on the Ecuadorian coast. They look after the whole process of cocoa plantation and chocolate production. They also still use homemade recipes and manual procedures in chocolate making.

Today, their visitors can enjoy daily guided tours, and a route in which they will be able to get to know with the entire process of the cocoa crop, from its seed until the final product “Chocolate”.


"Hacienda el castillo" - The family cocoa business



The history of the land


Back to 1930, Ludwig Weber, a German Count arrived to Ecuador and married Maria Angelica Calero, daughter of Evangelista Calero Gaybor. Evangelista born in the little town Yasacoto in the Province of Bollvar. His popular shoe making industry helped him raise a fortune. In 1950’s the Count Weber and his wife built a villa in their land near the town of San Isidoro. This land had 1600 hectares and the villa brought the name “Castillo”. Weber had been deported from the United States to the Crystal City Camp, during the Second World War. Τhe accusations were that he was considered a Nazi spy, because he was a pilot who fought for Germany during the First World War. The beauty and tranquility of Castillo’s location made the German Count Weber to settle there with his wife and enjoy his years of retirement.


The Castillo was located in one of the highest hills of the area, favoring its amazing view. Its first floor was made of concrete and it had two other floors made of wood. Weber and his family spent many years of their lives in the Castillo, until his death in 1967. Immediately after, inhabitants of the surrounding area robed the Castillo.They left it in ruins. Over time, the property’s condition worsen. The Count’s family lost its ownership of the land, when Calero lost his fortune.


At the end of the 1980’s, new owners bought part of what today is the Hacienda El Castillo. There the ruins of the villa where found. For more than 20 years, this small family business has been based on an agricultural, tourism and industrial operation, contributing to the area’s development.




The specialty cocoa


The cocoa at the “Hacienda el Castillo” is the Don Homero – Cerecita. The Don Homero refers to the variety of the cocoa used in the plantation. Cerecita means the region where the Hacienda is located. The Don Homero is of Trinitarian origin, which is why people consider it as a fine and aromatic cocoa. This variety had a development in the 1960’s, during an intense selective program held by the Ecuadorian agronomist scientist Homero Castro. For the chocolate makers, this cocoa has more mass content compared to other varieties, which makes it very attractive.


The last years the production of specialty cocoa is getting even more popular from small family businesses. Then commodity trading companies are also taking part in trading these types of specialty cocoa. These market trends make it clear that a new and interesting chapter opens in cocoa trading. Cocoa trading companies now they should also have flexible options regarding their specific CTRM systems for specialty cocoa.




16 most interesting facts about coffee

Posted by Markos Gkogkos
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7 minutes to read




The coffee lover


There are people who can’t start the day without having a freshly brewed cup of coffee. They love coffee so much that sometimes they call themselves “coffee addicts”.


Well, drinking a cup of coffee every day is not necessarily a bad habit. On the contrary, it’s proven to be healthy, scientist say. Your daily morning coffee provides you with more things than just an energy boost. It’s also shown to protect us against type 2 diabetes, liver diseases and lowers the risks of heart failure.  But, besides health there are even more interesting facts about coffee.



Coffee is culture


Going back in time, we’ve seen that coffee is not just a drink. It is actually a lot more. In the past, people gathered in houses to share a cup of coffee and exchange information.


In North America and a lot of western European countries, Starbucks and other coffee chains have dominated the market because they are providing to the customers a complete experience around coffee. Coffee and friends, coffee and work, coffee and snacks and coffee to go! The Irish mix coffee with whiskey and they call it “Irish coffee”. In Italy the espresso and espresso machine were born and made it the favorite whole-day beverage of Italians. In Greece, there is the “kafenio”, an old fashioned coffee shop for old gentlemen, where they drink Greek coffee and exchange political ideas or they play cards and a board game called “tavli”. Then also, in some countries, like Colombia or Brazil, the whole economy is based in coffee.


So this makes us really curious to know more interesting facts about coffee as a commodity itself but also as a beverage.



Interesting facts about coffee


1. Second in the World

It’s the world’s 2nd largest traded commodity.  Crude oil is first. Yes, it is not a typo. Coffee is consumed in great quantities, making it the most beloved beverage after water. It’s worth is over $100 billion worldwide.

around the world


2. Hawaii is the only American state that grows coffee

Good coffee growing conditions require high altitudes, tropical climates, and rich soil. There is only one state, Hawaii, which is able to grow coffee.  It has been producing coffee even before it was a state. (Only recently, though, farms in California started growing coffee bushes!)



3. Coffee was discovered by a goat herder

It was said that coffee was discovered by a goat herder in Ethiopia in the 1500s.  He saw his goats eating coffee cherries. Afterwards, he observed a change in their behavior. They gained a high amount of energy and they didn’t sleep at night.  The herder shared his findings with local monks and then after they made a drink with coffee beans, they realized they could stay up all night and pray. Then, they spread the word to other Ethiopian monks and it reached across the civilized world.



4. Coffee helped Olympic athletes

Brazil couldn’t afford to send its athletes to Los Angeles  for the 1932 Olympics, so the government loaded them in a ship full of coffee which was sold on the way to finance their trip.



5. Mecca banned coffee

Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511. It was believed to stimulate radical thinking and idleness.



6. Add cream, keep your coffee warm

Coffee stays warm 20% longer when you add cream.



7. Divorce because of terrible coffee

In ancient Arab culture, a woman could only divorce her husband if he didn’t like her coffee.



8. Italian “expresso”

The word espresso comes from Italian and means “expressed” or “forced out”. Espresso is made by forcing very hot water under high pressure through finely ground, compacted coffee.

Italian gesture



9. Coffee is a fruit

Coffee beans grow on a bush. They are actually the pit of a berry, which makes them a fruit. There are two main varieties of beans, green and red. Red beans have a


nicer smell and are less acidic. Red beans are used to produce lighter coffees. The longer that coffee beans have been roasted – the healthier they are. Decaffeinated coffee comes from a chemical process where the caffeine is taken out of the beans.  The caffeine is then often sold to Coca-Cola.



10. Beethoven loved coffee

Beethoven was such an ardent coffee lover that he’d count 60 beans per cup before making his brew.



11. The most expensive coffee is made by cat poop

“Kopi Luwak” is the most expensive coffee in the world.  It comes from Indonesia and is made from beans digested from the Asian Palm Civet. In other words, it comes from cat poop.  It sells for €350 and up per kilo!



12. A year drinking coffee or an iPhone X?

An American spends on average $1,092 a year on coffee. That’s around $20 a week. That is also close to the price of the newest iPhone. Young people generally spend more on coffee than older people.



13. Fairtrade coffee improves quality

Fairtrade coffee costs more, but coffee farmers spend at least 25% of this Fairtrade Premium to enhance productivity and quality. Over the last three years, Fairtrade-certified coffee products have won 28 Great Taste Awards.



14. There are 2 types of coffee

Arabica coffee was originally cultivated on the Arabian Peninsula, hence the name. Robusta coffee is a more hardy plant but contains double the amount of caffeine.



15. Europe loves coffee

According to International Coffee Association, Europe imports more coffee than the USA. Also, Brazil is the lead exporting country in coffee.



16. The big spenders

The “Big Four” coffee roasting companies – Kraft, P&G, Sara Lee and Nestle – buy about 50% of the coffee produced worldwide.




Old facts, new facts


So many interesting facts about coffee, but yet which facts concern the present time?


A love of all things connected with coffee has brought both large and small companies into the world of coffee production and trading.


Technology and improvements in coffee trading industry are two of the major factors which  help a lot of those companies to  compete in the volatile environment of coffee trading.


Coffee culture is constantly changing as coffee drinkers seek new ways to enjoy their favorite beverage  Production, trading and distribution methods have evolved to meet these new needs but there are a lot more improvements yet to be made. So further coffee research and development will need to be an on-going activity..


As a coffee trader you need to make the right choices in setting up your business for continuing growth and profit. Organizing all your procedures from the beginning is definitely going to assist you in the future. Even if you didn’t have the sufficient budget when you started and now want to adopt your existing business  to use specific software in order to handle all your coffee trading activities, you still can. It is never late.


Agiblocks is a Commodity Trading and Risk Management software, designed specifically for managing coffee commodity trading transactions. It is designed to be your friend for your business and helps you make a mark by adding your own “interesting facts” in the coffee industry!





A historical building filled with cocoa!

Posted by Markos Gkogkos
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4 minutes to read





A retrospective of the Chocoa 2018 festival


Some days ago Agiboo was at the Beurs van Berlage Amsterdam Conference Center. There, the Chocoa festival took place offering the opportunity to its audience to meet cocoa producers, specialists and associates from all around the globe.


The smell of chocolate gently hit your face when entering the trade fair from the entrance. It made you feel warmer and eager to explore all trade stands. To touch cocoa beans and try out some fine chocolate bites.


Cocoa farmers and chocolate producers from Ecuador, Peru or Mexico exhibited their finest cocoa products. We also met cocoa associated companies who look after the quality and selection of cocoa beans and work as well as a one stop cocoa storage. Family businesses and young entrepreneurs showed their passion for cocoa to the visitors at the trade fair.



The location



Beurs van Berlage hosted the conference right in the center of Amsterdam, some steps away from the Dam square. The twentieth-century Dutch architecture of the historical building combined with the cocoa exhibitors traveled you back in time when the Dutch setting up the base for the commodity trading.


Agiboo at the Chocoa festival 2018

Agiboo at the Chocoa festival 2018

Some historical facts


The Beurs van Berlage was the third stock exchange building in Amsterdam in a row. In 1884 Amsterdam announced an international competition for the design of a new stock exchange building. Among the contributors was HP Berlage (1856-1934) who, together with his then associate Th. Sanders delivered a design.


Berlage was appointed as a member of the Stock Exchange Commission on the initiative of Treub, from which it almost automatically followed that he would also design the new stock exchange. On Berlage’s advice, the building would be erected on Damrak, which was filled up to the Oudebrug. This allowed a costly and lengthy expropriation procedure to be avoided.


The construction started in May 1898. Five years later, on May 27, 1903, Queen Wilhelmina officially opened the new Koopmans fair. The Goods Fair moved there together with the Grain and Stock Exchange, the Schippersbeurs (ship traders) and the Chamber of Commerce that took over the hall above the main entrance at the Beursplein.


Since 2008, the Beurs van Berlage offers its historical atmosphere and location for inspiring events, cultural and social activities and conferences. The building also hosts various trade shows and expositions or festivals, like the Chocoa festival 2018.



The chocoa festival 2018



With the phrase “Good cocoa, better chocolate”, the Chocoa Festival opened its doors on 24th of February and offered various conferences, speaking notes, workshops and a true multinational trade show.


150 stands all around the globe waited to greet visitors and cocoa connoisseurs at the Beurs van Berlage. The event gave the opportunity to industry’s stakeholders to connect and understand in depth each part of the supply chain. And when you understand the importance of each player in the “cocoa game”, then you realize how you can deliver your contribution more efficiently.


We met farmers who traveled all the way from Peru just to show us their cocoa products. Family businesses with sustainable plans for making chocolate. Happy cocoa quality testers and cocoa exporters or traders. Even young entrepreneurs offering online platforms to assist the cocoa farmers.


So many people, so many roles, so many different businesses. How can a cocoa farmer be connected with a cocoa consulting specialist? How a small family business could exhibit next to a bigger cocoa company? Well, because each one understands the role of each other. And everyone has the same passion for cocoa.  That is why is growing its CTRM users in the cocoa industry, we understand the industry challenges and have a passion for cocoa!