Monthly Archives: May 2010

50. Final thoughts (for now) on Direct Trade

2010-05-31 Comments

The price paid to smallholder farmer organizations is often the primary point of comparison different trading models. Unfortunately, a lack of precision can make these comparisons miselading.

49. More perspectives on Direct Trade

2010-05-27 Comments

The Fair Trade v. Direct Trade debate — to the extent that people are still having it — is fueled by caricatures of each approach that may reflect some grain of truth but ultimately misrepresent the realities of both.

48. Perspectives on Direct Trade

2010-05-24 1 Comment

I am still trying to understand how Direct Trade works on the ground, and how we, as a development agency working to promote more sustainable and fair trading models, should advise smallholder farmers to approach it. As part of my own ongoing education in Direct Trade, I have been seeking out different perspectives on Direct Trade and finding plenty of good resources.

47. “Getting to yes” (and beyond price and quality)

2010-05-20 No Comments

I read the bestselling book Getting to Yes for a course in negotation I took during graduate school.  I don’t recall the book’s nuances, but some of its core principles have stuck with me, like moving beyond a party’s position to explore its underlying interests, and inventing new fields of engagement in which win-win solutions […]

46. How far can quality take a trading relationship?

2010-05-17 1 Comment

For smallholder farmers, getting to the outer bounds of the quality spectrum — and staying there — is hard work. The marginal return on that effort — especially in a high market — may be negligible. So while we continue to promote a holistic approach to quality from the seedling to the mill, we are also continually asking ourselves how far to ride the wave of upward pressure on quality coming from the market end of the chain.

45. What are coffee companies investing in at origin?

2010-05-13 Comments

Over the past week and a half, I have been posting on the issue of how coffee companies are investing at origin.  Today: what they are investing in, and how that may be changing.

44. Bridging the gap between coffee and development

2010-05-11 No Comments

The most important divide in the discussion around coffee and development is the gap between coffee chain issues (productivity, quality, etc.) and issues that arise from beyond the coffee chain. The issue that bridges the gap? The price companies pay for their coffee.

43. Sustainability and the Coffee Quality Diploma

2010-05-06 No Comments

In my last post, I shared some reflections on my recent discussions with diverse coffee industry stakeholders regarding the ways coffee companies are investing at origin.  I did not mean to suggest that coffee companies are struggling to find their way while established development agencies like ours have it all figured out.  In fact, even […]

42. Colores de café

2010-05-05 1 Comment

As I have made my way around the coffeelands this year, I have been struck among other things by the vibrant colors I saw in the ripe cherries, brightly-painted infrastructure and hand-lettered signs, among other places. Here are some images of the colores de café in Mesoamerica.

41. How should coffee companies invest at origin?

2010-05-03 Comments

Over the the past few months, I have found myself talking with a broad range of stakeholders in the specialty coffee industry about how coffee companies are investing at origin. Here are some reflections on what I am hearing in those discussions and seeing in the field, and some ideas about the directions in which industry engagement in the coffeelands may be moving.