The road that from the farmer leads to the consumer is long and awkward. The coffee farmer, almost always unknown, is indifferent to the destiny of his own coffee, made almost "neutral" by the presence of many middlemen. In contrast, we act according to our "Closest Connection" principle, to make the farmer proud and accountable for the quality of his own coffee, at the same time guaranteeing a full traceability.
The image below can help your understanding of the problem. The farmer sells to a middleman or to a "first-level" cooperative. Later, the middleman sells to larger middlemen and the cooperative sells to "second-level" cooperatives to arrive in a way or the other to an exporter, who will sell to a large importer, in turn selling to smaller distributors to reach the roaster and at last to the consumer.
The coffee of "our" farmer, dispersed among the coffee of many others, is exported with the name of the exporter which most often ignores the identity of the farmers that delivered their coffee. It is impossible for anybody standing in the last part of the chain to go back to the producer, to his name, to his story.
In contrast, acting according to our Closest Connection principle, either we use coffee from personally acquainted producers or, just when this is impossible because of the nature of the country and of the project, from the closest ring to the producer. We can accordingly guarantee that our purchase respects high ethical standards and offer higher quality levels.
Doing things our way adds up risks, costs, and complexity to our job, but also quality, knowledge and great human relationships.