I love coffee (as you’ve probably already guessed). Why? Well, it’s a lot more than the amazing smell and taste of it (well, hopefully it’s good!). Over the last year I have had the privilege of taking on the role of barista and events planner at a locally owned coffee shop. My appreciation for this so widely used beverage has grown in several ways, particularly how it provides such incredible community both locally and globally.
Locally~ Wouldn’t you agree that one of the best places to have a good conversation with someone is in your local coffee shop or cafe? It is amazing how quickly I felt connected in a new community through spending a mass majority of my time within such an atmosphere. A large percentage of people will grab a coffee somewhere at some point in their day. It’s fair to say that a cafe is a pretty comfortable environment considering that it is such a relatable thing for people. One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is to spend a relaxing afternoon in a shop over a hot beverage, a book, and some tunes forgetting about any concept of time and just wait… Wait on what you may ask? Waiting on new stories to walk into my life, for the creativity of someone’s idea for a new article they are writing, an album, a book they are reading, the design of a thought through outfit… the list goes on…
Globally~ We have the amazing privilege here in North America to distribute coffee through fair trade and direct trade means. If you are like many people that I have conversed with you may be wondering… “What do those terms exactly mean, and what are the differences?” Many may argue which is better, but first let me say, they are both extremely positive and impacting on our world! Both provide an opportunity for farmers to work more closely with companies. This increases the benefits for them personally, their communities, as well as the environment. If farmers in low income countries are able to succeed, this will bring greater development to their area.
Fair trade will allow farmers to have higher prices and access to the market. Minimum prices are only guaranteed to the co-op and not the small scale farmer or their workers. Individual farms must be part of a cooperative in order to be certified. Unfortunately, plantations and estates are not allowed to join co-ops. Also, prices through fair trade are often fixed without taking the country context into consideration, which gives less motivation to grow higher quality crops.
Direct trade is able to build sustainable relationships with farmers by working with them directly rather than through cooperatives. Direct trade provides greater pay for the farmer (on average 25% more than Fair Trade), allowing less of the profit to be split, and more going into their own pocket. With the ability to personally work with the needs of a community, direct trade helps improve farming practices. This provides quality control over the product.