Whilst we lived in Colombia we often visited our friends’ farm on the flanks of the Antioquian Andes, where we would explore the hillsides on horseback checking on the cattle and crops. On one visit we rode to their now defunct coffee processing plant. Why had they stopped cultivating coffee? A few damaging years of leaf rust and low market prices had meant that coffee was no longer a financially viable crop for them. It became clear then that only by taking care of the producers can we ensure that our morning espresso or latte will always be there.
Not that long ago, coffee was at the centre of exposing the injustices in the global commodities’ markets, a pre-cursor to the introduction of certification such as fair-trade and rainforest-alliance. These labels, which are now the norm, ensure that traders reach at least minimum standards in both economic and environmental sustainability for the producers. Here at Poblado Coffi we believe that certification is a positive step in the right direction, but that there is still much more that can be done.
It was on a recent trip to Rwanda that we learnt about a scheme which has boosted the incomes of coffee farmers. The project offers training to the farmers; it has also provided additional resources to improve processing facilities and has opened up access routes to the speciality coffee market, where a much better price can be achieved for the beans. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer to ensuring we all have access to the best ethically sourced coffee, but building sustainable partnerships with producers is definitely key.
Although there is no direct correlation, many of the poorest countries in the world are also coffee producing nations. With the global thirst for specialty beans increasing year on year, coffee should be seen as an opportunity to lift people out of poverty in a trade partnership that not only ensures the sustainability of the market, but increases the quality of what is produced.
All our coffee is sourced from suppliers who share this view and comes with a guarantee that no one has been exploited along the supply chain. We believe fully in complete transparency and provide information on exactly where all our coffees come from.