Coffee is the second largest commodity, after oil, to sell in the global markets. But, small coffee farmers are left selling their coffee at prices that may not help them sustain themselves. Fair Trade coffee, however, opens up opportunities for small producers to receive a higher price. By forming a larger cooperative with other small farmers they may be able to have better selling power. This larger cooperative works with roasting companies directly removing the middlemen (importers/exporters). The companies pay a higher price above the market rate. This fair trade premium is used by the cooperative for various social programs. Education, Infrastructure, purchasing land, additional equipment, coffee plants, and even homes are all areas where the money can help improve the lives of small producers.
Fair Trade is not perfect. There are challenges. Prices need to rise. But it does work. It does help. The conventional market helps the big companies, landowners, and the middlemen. The small producers are left behind. Whether or not you choose to visit us at Brew’d and purchase our coffee for immediate consumption or for later, ask your favorite coffeehouse if their coffee is fairly traded. If not tell them you want it to be.
It is worth noting that there are alternative supply chains such as Direct Relationship in which roasting companies work directly with smaller farmers and purchase at price over market rate. In either relationship, the middlemen are removed and the price paid for each pound of coffee goes to the farmers.