Our approach to responsible sourcing

Supporting small-scale farmers

There are three main archetypes of coffee farms in the world: commodity agri-businesses, large estates and smallholder farms (less than 10 hectares of land). We choose to support the businesses of small-scale farmers, and increase their access to market. Read about the farmers and co-ops we work with on their respective single coffee product pages.

Smallholder farmers produce 80% of the world’s coffee, yet are the most vulnerable in the supply chain.

Of the many actors and transaction points in a traditional supply chain, smallholder farmers and farmworkers see the smallest returns on every pound of coffee sold and often rely on many intermediaries who take a cut between them and buyers. For smallholders, annual yields can ranges from a few hundred kilograms to a few thousand kilograms, meaning smallholder farmers feel the impact of price and climate volatility the hardest. Sometimes we buy from individual farm owners and may purchase their entire annual production, but the majority of our coffee is produced by groups of smallholder farmers called co-operatives or producers associations. Other times we’ll buy from washing stations that purchase fresh coffee from smallholders in the region, transform and export it, and provide services to the farming community. These systems allow very small farmers to gain access to the marketplace, and oftentimes, provide an alternative to the commodities market where they would make far less return for their crop.

Paying more for coffee

Price paid to farmer as an indicator of impact is complex, as it does not necessarily correlate with household profitability for a farming family. That's because different farms have different cost structures, many farmers rely on more than just coffee for income. That said, we pay more than 2x the commercial price for a pound of coffee to our importers which is a better starting point to the traditional market, and we only purchase coffee when we have traceability that our premiums are being invested into drivers of long term economic sustainability.

Farm profitability relies on many variables beyond price per pound, including but not limited to weather patterns, crop productivity and yield, plant varietals, cost of farm management and labour, and personalized social and household expenses.

Our premiums support these projects:

The purchase of new coffee tree seedlings, farm-management training, the purchase of productivity inputs like fertilizer and mulch, livestock for income and food diversification, gender equity training, and more.

Price traceability

We purchase our coffee through a private market called the specialty market, where prices are negotiated above the commodity floor price. In this market, value and pricing can be negotiated directly between farmers and buyers. We purchase coffee trough trusted importers who in turn purchase from exporters, co-operatives or washing stations. In any of these supply chains, our importers are accountable to tracking the use returns from our purchase premiums as they are reinvested by co-op leaders or washing station owners into various social, economic, or environmental improvement projects.

Encouraging sustainable agriculture

The Arabica coffee tree is at risk of extinction. This matters because it is the species that produces most of our world's coffee. Climate change and decades of unsustainable commercial farming have depleted soil nutrients and threaten biodiversity that allows coffee plants to thrive. The result of this impacts not only our environment, but decreasing yields and incomes for many smallholder farmers.

> 100% of our coffees are shade grown

> Many of our coffees are certified Organic or Rainforest Alliance certified coffees, you will find the certification on each coffee's single product page every single product page

> If a coffee does not have an environmental certification, we buy from non-certified organic farms

> We are part of the WCR Checkoff program. For every kg of coffee we sell, we donate a portion of proceeds towards World Coffee Research

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