Each coffee-growing country (origin), has its own unique challenges, as does each geographical region, co-operative and individual farmer. Trading directly and ethically when we source coffee, allows us to find personalized solutions to our seasonal buying of fresh green beans, removing a huge amount of stress for the farmers, as this is often their one-time, annual source of income.
The reality is, that many specialty coffee farmers work incredibly hard to eke out a sustainable livelihood, the majority of them are what we call “smallholder” farmers as the area of land they own is small, and sadly, the next generation is not as attracted to continue this way of living as the cities appear to offer more opportunities.
Caring about the pointy end of our supply chain, has huge impacts financially, socially, and on the planet. Ensuring economic freedom for all the people who are involved in the growing, harvesting, and processing of our beautiful specialty green coffee each year, has a significant impact at a community and household level.
When Matt and I first started traveling and sourcing our coffee, something intangible that we realized, was that healthy communities always transpired to supplying better quality green coffee, and building long-term relationships just meant that each year our coffee quality kept getting better and better. Knowledge was shared, women had voices, opportunities, and access to finance for their families, and in turn, there was a real sense of well-being. A sad fact is that women remain the most marginalized group Internationally in the coffee-growing world.
Sustainable farming practices always require more commitment, work, planning, and often a change in practices that have been handed down by generations of tradition. Building a relationship of trust and paying social premiums, helps growers to know their hard work is being valued and respected, it also gives us, the buyer, clarity on the challenges in delivering the same consistent quality year on year. Long-term relationships also remove the annual stress of worrying about how to get their product to market and good communication with commitments and partial payments helps them to live and provide for their families.
For years we have used the analogy of the Toyota Lexus and Toyota Corolla – both Toyota brands, both running on fuel and moving people from A to B, there is no way you can compare performance or quality. You can not disguise a Corolla and pretend it is a Lexus. This is what many coffee businesses today are doing, using our terminology, and pretending the lesser quality coffee they purchase at a much lower price is Specialty, and does have the same ethical sources practices, and quality.
Awareness of traceability and social responsibility is increasing as consumers make more informed decisions about which brands to support, whether that’s your coffee, your food, your cosmetics, or where you buy your clothes.
As your local roaster and the people who source your seasonally fresh coffee, we happily take on this responsibility of building strong relationships with our origin partners, so that you can trust that the coffee you purchase is genuinely ethical and making a social impact on the people who matter the most, the farming communities and families at the origin.