We support initiatives at origin which improves the livelihoods of the farms as well as promoting equality and better farming practices. In addition to our ethical approach in our coffee growing communities, we constantly focus on improving our roastery opportunities in the UK. Here’s a few things we do towards being a sustainable and ethical coffee roaster:
Chaff is the skin of coffee beans which falls off during the roasting process, and as there are a lot of coffee beans in our roaster, we often get a lot of chaff waste, too. Chaff is organic and biodegradable but unfortunately it emits a lot of methane when broken down in landfill, so it is much better to repurpose it than dispose of it. We recycle and reuse chaff by allowing our staff to use it as compost and fertiliser in their gardens and have plans to start turning it into briquettes so that we can fuel fires with it.
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for famers and workers in the developing world and enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives. Fairtrade is a starting point, not an end itself. To us, a Fairtrade certification, isn’t a badge, it’s a principle. We were an early adopter of Fairtrade coffee back in 1991 and we continue to help certified cooperatives grow and improve. Whilst there can be good coffee that is Fairtrade, it generally doesn’t receive a high enough SCA score so unfortunately we do not sell any Fairtrade certified coffee for retail.
Direct Trade Coffee
Direct trade is sometimes defined as needing to be a one-to-one relationship, for example, between producer and coffee roaster. But often specialty coffee sometimes may need to go through dry mills and washing stations not owned by the farm. We are committed to buying as much of our coffee direct from the producer as possible to make sure we have full control over our quality as well as ensuring producers are paid fairly. Our target is to buy 90% of coffee direct from the producer by 2023, unless it is a certified coffee which comes from certified cooperatives. We have 5 key targets for direct trade:
- Full visibility for the customer – we can tell you the farm, the farmer, the story.
- The farmer receives a fair, sustainable price, above the Fairtrade minimum.
- Our farmers commit to sustainable farming methods, best practice and refute child labour.
- A micro-lot program – we regularly get ‘one-of-a-kind’ coffees with exceptional taste, but which are also inherently seasonal.
- Guaranteed quality – managing the coffee process from farm to cup is at the heart of what we do.
The communities at the beginning of the coffee supply chain face a water crisis. 85 million people around the world don’t have access to clean water and live in isolated, rural coffee-growing areas. Access to water changes everything. Child mortality rates drop, girls can spend more time in school, women can start their own businesses. For every bag of coffee, we contribute x to Project Waterfall, a charity dedicated to bringing clean water to coffee-growing communities across the world. Since 2011, Project Waterfall has raised over £1.5 million and changed more than 70,000 lives in Nicaragua, Tanzania, Rwanda, Vietnam, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Their mission is to unite the coffee industry and coffee consumers to support the communities growing their coffee, and as a contributor to Project Waterfall, we’re helping them end the water crisis that so many people are currently facing.
Equality in Coffee Farming
Women in remote and rural coffee communities face a host of challenges that keep them trapped in poverty including living in male-dominated societies that give them very little financial control or decision-making power. In 2003, 464 women farmers in northern Peru decided to change this dynamic by separating their coffee production from the men’s. In that moment, for the first time, this group of women created their own product and income. They went on to create Café Femenino – a gender-focused program to support social justice, equality and empowerment for women coffee producers worldwide. Café Femenino provides direct compensation to women farmers, along with the opportunity and resources to make positive change in their own communities. We are proud supporters of this program, and we roast several of their coffees.