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, […]
Jaime Molina — a member of the 5 de junio cooperative that participates in the CRS CAFE Livelihoods project — took 2d place in last month’s Nicaragua Cup of Excellence competition. We can’t take credit for Jaime’s coffee, but we sure will work to figure out what exactly he is doing right and try to share it with other farmers in the project. Congratulations, Jaime, and good luck at auction!
Counter Culture Coffee made a stir recently when it released its Direct Trade Certified Transparency Report — a worthy accomplishment that broke new ground among Direct Trade roasters. The only thing I have seen that compares to this level of transparency is Fair Trade Proof — a radical approach to transparency developed by Fair Trade pioneer Cooperative Coffees.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.