Image via idogcow on Flickr
Guest Post: Considering Those Who Produce Coffee
We love a good cup of coffee in a morning but do we consider those who produce it?
A lot of us choose Fair Trade Coffee but don’t really think about what goes into the process of creating it. World Fair Trade Day was marked in May to raise awareness about the issue and Ethiopian fair-trade coffee ambassador Tadesse Meskela visited Christchurch to pursue his love for coffee.
It has been noted that coffee farmers are not getting the rewards and benefits that they deserve and with prices staying as they are, coffee is becoming a less sustainable business.
As a busy working society we do not usually look beyond the taste and price of coffee we buy. In fact as the coffee and espresso culture grows amongst the UK and America it is more about the variations of flavours available and the strength of the coffee bean. Supermarkets make more out of rich brands such as Kenko, Maxwell House, Lavazza and Starbucks and selling on related items including espresso cups.
The main factors we consider when buying coffee are:
- We usually need a coffee in the morning to make sure our brains are stimulated by caffeine and prepared for the working day ahead
- We use coffee blenders, roasters and makers to turn our cup of coffee into something close to a work of art
- We either like our coffee black, white or with cream – we add one to 6 sugars per mug
- We add flavours such as caramel, hazelnut, cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla to personalise a coffee and give it an edge
- We buy coffee that has a good reputation and is sure to leave a great after-taste
- We look at the packaging and advertising before we purchase
Facts about coffee: a Farmer’s viewpoint
- Over 25 million people in developing countries depend on coffee farming to survive and look after their families
- Farmers only receive a few cents from every cup of coffee sold at trade price
- The net income for most coffee farmers is still less than £1.50GBP/ $2.50 USD/ $3NZD per day
- Even when coffee prices rise, farmers cannot cover the cost of other increases such as fuel and food
Coffee farmers in Latin America still endure periods of “los meses flacos”, meaning “lean months”, where they have no income before the next harvest
Maybe instead of ignorantly deciding which coffee is the best on the shelf and what actually looks pretty, we should pay more attention to how it is farmed and which organisation is behind it. We think about giving money to charities on a regular basis and this is almost a similar process.
The interests of producers, especially small farmers and artisans, should be the main focus in the purchase decision making process.