The coffee world today
At least 20 to 25 million families worldwide make a living from coffee cultivation. "Assuming an average family size of five people, more than 100 million people depend on coffee growing." Source wikipedia.
With a global harvest of 168 million sacks of 60 kg, that's 10,080,000,000 kg. Now let's assume: Selling price of $3 per kg/green coffee leaves $302.40 per person/harvest per “person” ... something you might have doubts about.
The coffee world today
• From the current amounts, farmers and producer organizations get 10% of the total value of the coffee trade, although they do at least 50% of the work.
• Traders and the stock exchange exist mainly to eliminate information asymmetry and build a wall between farmers and their customers.
• The coffee industry is increasingly merging and consolidating powerfully. It dictates all trading conditions and gets away with lower and lower coffee prices to increase profits.
• Consumers lack transparency. You can't see behind the walls put up by traders and the coffee industry. This results in very limited traceability and communication with the farmers.
If we want real change, we need to look for a clear, bold and forward-thinking picture of the ideal world of coffee—and work toward it.
For us, the main problem in the coffee world is simple:
As consumers, farmers and roasters, we fail to recognize our ability to create lasting change ourselves and through our actions. Everywhere we are met with only a doomsday attitude instead of a positive and powerful vision. This mood is influenced by the media and the terrible reporting.
This is the biggest obstacle to creating lasting change.
In concrete terms, we must develop and shape an equal coffee world in which farmers and roasters are equally represented - and work transparently towards the creation of the agreed vision. We are convinced that if we stay true to our ideals in everything we do and the way we run our organizations, that vision will slowly manifest itself as a reality.
Instead of believing labels and falling for fancy marketing, we need to rediscover our common sense and direct, human connection to everyone and everything we shop and from whom we shop.
If we don't know or can't trust the origin of our coffee, then we specifically shouldn't drink it.
This is the only way we can finally reach the critical mass so that poor farmers and environmentally exploited coffee landscapes will disappear. It sounds hard to imagine, but with so many already doing it and showing that the alternative is real, it really is that simple.
Our coffee world of today
....they earn an equal share of industry profits. They enter into trade agreements directly and speak to roasters and their customers and are fully responsible for social justice and ecology on their farms.
...they help the farmers and roasters to connect with each other, solve the logistics and access finance. The intermediary has no interest in hiding their margins from the public.
The coffee industry
...they know the actual, verifiable “story” of their own qualities and the value chain they work with. High consumer scrutiny means “false profits” disappear and high ethics become the norm.
...they are or will become aware of their power to transform industries when the impact of transparent trading becomes apparent.
The only way to persuade the consumer to buy the product is to show a REAL commitment to quality and social/environmental justice.
The influence of this active action causes that:
• Farmers to become independent agro-entrepreneurs able to export and market their offer in collaboration with their customers, co-design and diversify the collaboration
• Roasters looking to collaborate to tell the full and verifiable story of their coffee, create the best roast profiles, and then share roasting capabilities, equipment and experience
• Intermediaries establish the necessary direct and indirect links between roasters and farmers and ensure full transparency. The aim is to create a coffee trading system based on trust instead of greed
• Consumers are becoming a conscious community of coffee drinkers who are demanding more and more transparency and are thus advancing the industry's decisions through these targeted purchases. True to the principle: A product can only taste good if everyone can live from it and not just exist.
"Don't work with someone you don't trust.
…….and don’t distrust anyone you work with.”
1. We allow ourselves to be motivated and guided by trust.
We take our time! Time needed to build trust. This applies to both the roaster and the producer. The complexity of cooperation is constantly increasing. Especially as trust increases and relationships deepen. In this way, increasingly ambitious social and ecological goals are developed together. We want to have fun, relaxed and constantly evolving relationships between cultures and partners that we can rely on all year round.
2. We show responsibility through transparency.
An open and connected world means that coffee producers are no longer invisible. You have the right to be seen and contacted by anyone who buys your coffee.
We don´t need to hide who our producer partners are and encourage communication within and between chains. Not only are we committed to it, we are proud to demonstrate our direct relationship with producers, the distribution of revenue and costs within the relationship. We want to shed light on the complicated coffee trading process. The direct result of being accountable through transparency is that we cut out all middlemen who don't add value and that no one in the commercial chain is driven solely by greed. We always provide a full breakdown of our coffee prices, right down to payments to farmers - visible to all and backed by official records.
3. Farmers are equal partners
The old colonial development model is based on that of "the old world", which tells coffee farmers how to live their lives. Instead of working with development aid, we simply ask our producer partners what they need, what they would invest an additional premium in. Whether they want to become independent from banks or get health insurance - if our trusted partner wants it, this is the right choice.
We asked ourselves the following question: Why do we talk about "living income" when we talk about farmers and "profits"? Aren´t we talking about industry?
We strive to confront the world with the inequality that is still common practice in coffee, but instead of howling and complaining about it, we offer a real alternative. We create an equal voice in the coffee value chain for everyone we work with: coffee farmers becoming exporters, storytellers, marketers, social media experts - everything you would expect from an equal partner.
4. We don't compete, we cooperate!
It might sound confusing, but all companies should just show the world what they do. This is how the company finds out the right customers. When we focus solely on that and actively try to poach customers from others, or fear that others will still our customers, you feel negative competition. Without that fear there is only collaboration with like-minded people, only fellowship.
The only companies we like to compete with are those that deliberately destroy livelihoods and ecosystems. We see ourselves as a community inspired by the will to open, share and build real relationships along the value chain.
5. We respect nature and want to preserve and restore it.
We believe that when nature's fundamentals are respected, she will reward us with abundance. In the short term, a farmer might think that pesticides and fertilizers will bring better yields and more income, but in fact the farm is slowly being run down and becoming dependent on these agents and their producers. And that leads to even more problems in the long run. If everyone, farmers and roasters, understand and respect the natural way coffee is grown, we believe we can reshape the market to consume less but higher quality coffee.
Our goal, with our capabilities, is to help farmers transition to agroforestry: systems that mimic a perfect natural environment for the coffee tree. By creating a natural paradise environment for these trees, the healthy system requires less maintenance, restores biodiversity, provides better quality coffee, generates additional income and attracts the best coffee buyers and coffee connoisseurs.