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100. “Quality of coffee means quality of life”

Earlier this week, I reflected on a recent conversation with a coffee buyer who told me flatly: “The quality approach has been tried.  It failed.”  The next day I met with a spirited exporter that has had success in attracting farmers to a very different vision: “Quality of coffee means quality of life.”

This is a message that farmers have heard with increasing frequency over the past decade, as industry and donors alike have invested at origin in improvements in quality, mostly in expanding access to appropriate post-harvest infrastructure and improving quality-control processes.  In the case of this particular exporter, there is plenty of evidence to support the vision — stable, long-term relationships with roasters willing to pay premium prices (even in high markets), and a growing number of farmers signing on to its quality-driven approach.

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