The farmers who harvest the worlds’ coffee beans are poor, despite the fact that coffee is one of the most valuable global industries. Farmers work hard planting, cultivating, and harvesting coffee, and yet they receive very little for their harvest when it comes time to sell. This leaves their families and communities unable to provide the basic education, housing, nutrition, and healthcare needed to foster healthy and happy lives.
We set out to change that. In order to eradicate the marginalization of farmers, we created an integrated international supply chain that links farmers directly with consumers and extends all the way from the field to the final sale. We then partnered with cooperatives that produce great coffee but lack the ability to reap the rewards of the (literal!) fruits of their labor. We sell their coffee directly to consumers and roasters in a number of countries, and farmers receive the full value of the profit generated from these sales.
In doing so, we have turned the system on its head and created benefits for all. Consumers get great tasting coffee at affordable prices and the knowledge that they are treating farmers fairly. Coffeehouses win because they can offer this great coffee to their customers along with the story of how they are part of the solution. Farmers win because they earn a living wage from they coffee that enables them to support their families and communities.
Our impact is not just incremental but transformative. By selling through our supply chain, farmers are able to earn much more than they would otherwise. Generally, famers earn between 40% and 250% more than they would selling their product in the local markets available to them. These extra profits give farmers a chance to achieve what previously they had only dreamed of – investing in their families for a brighter and more prosperous future.
We are frequently asked whether we are Fair Trade certified, and the answer is no. Fair Trade certification ensures a modest price increase for farmers, whereas our model ensures that farmers earn the full value of their product. As our model ensures a much larger benefit for farmers, and as there is a cost associated with Fair Trade certification, we decided not to pursue that option.
If you have more questions about Fair Trade’s benefits and drawbacks, we suggest you read this very well-written article on the subject.