Ten years ago, almost no one in coffee was talking about hunger in the coffeelands. Now it seems almost everyone is. How did the issue of food security in coffee communities move from the margins to the mainstream of the industry’s sustainability agenda in just a few short years? The answer is both important and […]
Last week I reflected on the implications of current market prices: the good, the bad and the ugly. This week, more comment on the current state of the market, starting with one Fair Trade roaster’s take on what it is calling “The New Coffee Crisis.”
The New York “C” market price for coffee has been soaring in recent months. While high prices generally do mean good news for smallholder farmers, they can create complications for cooperatives.
I recently heard an agronomist tell a group of farmers in El Salvador: “With coffee, we all win.” How true. Shade farming and other sustainable production practices deliver each of the four cardinal environmental services: carbon sequestration, biodiversity, water resource management and scenic beauty. We have been working for years to help smallholder farmers increase […]
Farmers in El Salvador, which has few remaining natural forests, waning water resources and precious little high-altitude terrain, are acutely aware of the impacts of climate change. That’s why many are making short-term changes to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change on their farms and adopting water-efficient post-harvesting technology. The coffee sector in El Salvador is also investing in breeding more resistant varieties.
Fair Trade organizations struggling to keep pace with the changing and increasingly rigorous requirements for Fair Trade Certification may be wondering how concerns over technical compliance have come to compete for their attention with efforts to ensure social impact.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of spending a long afternoon with Dean Cycon of Dean’s Beans with no particular agenda other than talking about the coffeelands and drinking some good coffee. Four hours after he welcomed me into his office, I left with an armful of coffee, some great Dean’s Beans swag, […]
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.
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 […]
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.