What to Bring

Marketing materials

When considering marketing materials to bring, remember the saying “less is more.” Paper marketing materials can be costly and cannot be changed once printed. They are also heavy to carry. Be mindful that coffee buyers also do not want to take brochures from multiple prospective suppliers to their home offices. Printed materials may be considered environmentally unfriendly in some consumer markets and leave a negative impression. The less you carry to a show, the less you must bring home.

Bring a simple one-page (or double-sided) sheet with basic information about the coffee exporter and origin. The one-pager should contain relevant facts and attractive photos of coffee and national culture. The English language is typical for international business in the coffee industry. However, it may be advantageous to translate marketing materials into a local language. Individual business cards with an email address or website are often the best way to receive follow-up inbound calls.

Coffee samples

Bring coffee samples representing lots that are for sale or typical of seasonal availability. Bring the best available, ensuring it is authentic and representative of usual availability. Do not groom defects from samples to make them appear better, as such tactics do not build trust.

It is appropriate to have a small quantity of sample green coffee packs on hand (150g). Do not bring more than a dozen or two. Some coffee buyers will provide instructions to ship samples to them directly after the event. The shipment cost may be preferable to carrying several kilos of green coffee in personal luggage. Be aware that there are some countries where green coffee samples cannot be hand-carried and must be either roasted or imported using special procedures. Be sure to check with the show host or visit the country’s customs website to review regulations before attending.

Sample Packaging

Coffee sample packs

Professional coffee sample packs speak volumes about quality to the prospective buyer

Sample packs make a first impression with coffee importers, demonstrating professionalism as an organization and the potential ability to deliver promises as a trading partner. They should be rigid or sturdy, sealed, and clearly labeled with identifying criteria. These should also include the company brand. Labeling should display:

  • Company and contact information (name, phone, email, website)
  • Sample or lot identifying information
  • Lot size, total production size
  • Harvest, ship dates
  • National coffee grade (if applicable)
  • Location (with coordinates and elevation, if available)
  • Community/regional name, estate name, or washing station (if applicable)
  • Variety (if known)
  • Processing method
  • Certifications, e.g., organic, RFA/Utz, FT, and others (if applicable)
  • Marked “SAMPLE: NO COMMERCIAL VALUE” in case of any questions upon arrival at customs.


Exhibition halls are large and usually located outside of central business districts. It may not be easy to source needed supplies at these remote locations during the busy few days of a trade show. Suppliers on the showgrounds will charge a (sometimes substantial) premium for their services. For that reason, bring all materials and supplies you reasonably expect to need during the event with you or plan to source them in the city of the show a few days prior. Availability of food and water is also sometimes limited on the trade show floor (or inferior at exorbitant prices due to lack of competition), so it is advisable to pack a lunch or snacks and water bottles to carry through the day.

Supplies list

Personal Supplies Office / Coffee Supplies Exhibit and Sales Support
All prescribed medicines, cold medicine, stomach medicines Aprons Batteries (various sizes)
Band-Aids Clipboard(s) Bungee cords
Casual backup shoes (to replace heels, dress shoes) Computer/video cables (RGB, HDMI) Business card collection box/bowl
Credit cards, petty cash Coffee sample packs Business card holders
Hand sanitizer, wet wipes Cupping bowls Business cards
Hat, sunscreen Cupping scoresheets Cable ties, zip ties
Lint brush Cupping spoons Cleaners, towels
Lip balm Electrical tape, clear tape, double-sided mounting tape Customer information log
Mobile phone travel SIM card Highlighter Draping tablecloths, sheets
Nail clippers Index cards First aid kit
Pain killers International power adapters Giveaway and promotions (swag)
Phone charger Kettles Hammer, nails
Portable snacks (dried fruit, nuts, granola bars, chocolate, etc.) Notepad(s) Nametag/company lanyard
Sewing kit Packing tape Power extension cords
Skin lotion Paper clips, rubber bands Printed handouts
Stain remover pen Pens, pencils, markers Replacement lightbulbs
Tissues Power strip Ruler, tape measure
Toothbrush, dental floss Reusable shopping bag(s) Sample information labels
Tote bag or backpack (locking, if possible, for security) Scissors Shower hooks (signage)
Travel plans and registration printouts Spittoons Sign holders
Umbrella Stapler, staples Tool kit (various screwdrivers, pliers)
Reusable water bottle Sticky notes Trash bags, trash can
Superglue Utility knife
USB memory sticks Vacuum
Velcro strips
Voltage meter
Wire or string (for signage)
Ziploc bags

Part 6: How to Prepare