In early 2000 we signed on as the second US company liscensed by TransfairUSA to roast and distribute Fair Trade Certified Coffee. Fair Trade certification formalizes the relationship-based trading model that we’ve pioneered since the mid-1980s. It offers third-party certification guaranteeing that farmers and their cooperatives receive fair prices, access to finance, and an equal distribution of the benefits created by the coffee trade. It creates a safety net in the event of market collapse, promotes the establishment of long term relationships between growers and buyers, and has a built in social premium to benefit the community through health and education programs, quality improvement initiatives, and community stewardship of the environment.
The Fair Trade system supports the creation of an economy built on the principles of economic, social, and environmental justice. Historically, the relationship between growers and buyers has been exploitative; coffee farmers were offered prices lower than the cost of production and many were forced into a cycle of poverty and debt. Fair Trade restores dignity to trade and returns market control to farmers. It encourages the empowerment of women, gives a voice to indigenous communities and supports the establishment of democratically governed cooperatives.
While Fair Trade Certification is fundamental to our work, what we do goes far beyond sourcing third party Fair Trade Certified coffees. All of our Fair Trade and Organic Coffees are sourced from family farmers who are close partners. We work with them and their cooperatives throughout the year, including at least one (but often times more) in person visits to their farms and processing centers. Together we work to improve coffee quality, picking and processing, lot differentiation, establish coffee cupping laboratories for quality control and varietal flavor definition.
We know that the best coffee comes from farmers who take pride in their craft and providing for their families and communities. Paying a fair wage for high quality coffees is just one of the ways we establish transparent relationships based on trust and mutual respect and allows coffee drinkers and coffee farmers to connect with every cup.