FROM OUR INDUSTRY-LEADING MINIMUM PRICE GUARANTEE TO OUR UNCONVENTIONAL SOURCING MODEL, OUR PURSUIT OF SPECTACULAR COFFEES IS GUIDED BY GRATITUDE FOR COFFEE FARMERS.
In order to find coffees that meet our stringent quality standards and support the future of the farms and producers we work with, we’ve developed a sourcing model that’s one of a kind. At the heart of our model is a commitment to equity, transparency, and, above all, integrity. That starts with fair compensation.
Currently we pay at least $3.10 per pound of green coffee (an industry-leading minimum price). This price, paid to farmers, is 55% higher than the Fair Trade minimum and 29% higher than Fair Trade Organic prices. Each year, we increase our minimum price by $0.05.
The producers we work with take great care and pride in the land they cultivate, adopting organic growing practices that are good for coffee and good for the land. We owe our livelihood and daily coffee ritual to our producers, who are currently subsidizing the cost of climate change with their labor and inputs. Not only is it our responsibility to pay them fairly, it is an investment in their work and in the future of coffee.
Our sourcing model and minimum pay price allows us to center the voices of the smallholder farmers; staying open to learning and responding to the ever-changing realities of coffee farming.
Fair farmer compensation has been an ideal in the world of coffee for more than two decades, and it's been an ideal for us since we opened our doors. While the fair trade movement and direct trade models have both made meaningful progress in addressing quality of life at origin and inequity in the supply chain, both have fallen short.
The truth is this: coffee farmers make far less today than they did 40 years ago.
Even as the specialty coffee market has bloomed. Even as roasters like us have been asking farmers for more in terms of quality and expertise. The commodity market for coffee has remained largely static since the 1970s, meaning that they are making a fraction of what they used to when you adjust for inflation and rising costs of production. Farmers are now often forced to sell their coffee for less than the cost of production. For example, the average commodity price for coffee in 1976 was $1.46. When you adjust that for inflation in today’s dollars, that is a price of $7.88 per pound.
With a minimum price guarantee to farmers that’s more than 55% above the Fair Trade conventional minimum price and 29% higher than Fair Trade organic prices, our own standards for equitable compensation go a step beyond fair trade.
We have created a model rooted in farmers’ costs and their wellbeing, rather than in a volatile and often arbitrary market price. As a result, we have been able to put farmers, instead of the market, at the center of our exchanges.
Building lasting, equitable farmer partnerships requires more than committing to fair compensation. Throughout the year we travel to origin to visit with our partnering farmers and cooperatives to learn more about their work. Our time here is deliberate and critical. We don’t just taste coffee and tour the fields, we work to create enduring relationships.
Investing in long term relationships means seeking out new farmer partnerships, funding community-based development and educational opportunities and supporting buying models that sustain the livelihood of agricultural communities.
To get even closer to our farmer partners and participate in a more transparent process, we are also members of Cooperative Coffees: a roaster-owned importing cooperative. By being active participants in the importing process we’re able to bridge the gap that traditionally exists in the coffee market and bring farmers and roasters to the same table.
No one person, organization, or coffee roaster has the answers for addressing the inequity embedded in the story of coffee. Collectively we can commit to asking the hard questions and elevating the organizational work and economic autonomy of farmers.
Together we can create a more just and resilient future in coffee, one that truly supports and centers the farming communities it relies upon.