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Coffee as a global industry is by and large harmful to people and planet. What brings us together as a team of coffee professionals is a dissatisfaction with this status quo and a belief that positive change and alternate models are possible, starting with how we design our very own coffee business.

Some of our impacts in 2022

Buhorwa community

Small farms, Big Impact

Smallholder farmers produce most of our world's coffee supply, yet they remain the most marginalized geographically and economically of all actors in the industry. 100% of our coffee purchases support the businesses of small-scale farmers or family-owned farms.

pricing

Better Prices

Most producers in the world fail to earn a price that covers their cost of production. A requirement for us to purchase a coffee through an importer is access to transactions and pricing traceability from the producer up to us. Today, we look at two benchmarks as indicators of a sustainable price that we pay for coffee. Our price paid FOB for coffee against known FOB price benchmarks, and our Farmgate price against well-researched costs to produce a pound of coffee. Read our most recent transparency report for more information on prices we paid.

April _ RAPH _ Seb fournier

Reducing Our Environmental Impact

Coffee is a high intensity carbon impact food. Most GHG emissions and landfill waste occur in the final phases of coffee's lifecycle (roasting, distributing, retailing, brewing and consuming). We are committed to delivering a lower carbon impact cup. Today some commitments towards this include using 100% biodegradable packaging for our coffee bags, composting in 2 on 4 of our cafés, incentivising the use of reusable cups in our cafés by offering $0.25c rebate on drinks, donating $0.02c/LB per LB of green coffee that we buy to World Coffee Research, delivering our e-commerce orders when possible by bicycle courrier or electric truck, and roasting our coffee with an Afterburner that reduces harmful emissions by 95%.

We partner with these change-making organizations

FAQ

Responsibility

+ Where does your coffee come from?

From many places and people!

We buy the vast majority of our coffee from small-scale farmers and co-operatives. Research supports that supporting cooperatives has more widespread positive impact throughout the community than is common when purchasing from individual businesses, such as independently owned estates or larger farms. 

From there, we work primarily with trusted intermediaries called importers, who work to move our coffee from the country of origin to our warehouse and roasting facility in Montreal. In 2019 and 2020, we worked with the following importers for at least two coffees:

  • Crop to Cup

  • Atlas

  • The Coffee Quest

  • Interamerican

  • Red Fox Coffee Merchants

  • Semilla Coffee

LEARN MORE

+ Is your packaging compostable/biodegradable?

Yes! Our bags are 100% biodegradable and decompose in a backyard compost, commercial compost facility, or at the landfill (including the one-way degassing valve which promotes freshness and prevents oxidation.) Simply throw them into your compost or garbage when you are done (do not recycle). For more information about this packaging, check out our packaging supplier TekPak Solutions.  READ MORE

+ Is your coffee organic?

In short, no, because we do not believe Organic Certification to be the highest impact way to improve farm-level and coffees carbon footprint (to read the nitty gritty that forms this opinion, scroll down below). We consider the environmental impact of coffee production and our entire supply chain, and stand committed to reduction of our businesses carbon footprint in the following ways:

- We donate $0.01c (USD) per pound of coffee to World Coffee Research whose mission is to create a toolbox of coffee varieties, genetic resources and accompanying technologies and to disseminate them strategically and collaboratively in producing countries to alleviate constraints to the supply chain of high quality coffee. In 2022 this contribution was $888 USD - We invest in biodegradable packaging for our coffee bags, in 2022 that was 52,483 coffee bags redirected from long term landfill - In 2022 we composted over 7000 LBS of ground coffee from 3 on 4 of our cafes - 46% of our e-commerce deliveries in 2022 were effected by carbon neutral shipping methods (bike courrier, picked up in store or our zero-net ground ship partners Boxknight) Nitty Gritty: To earn organic certification, coffee farmers must use an agriculture system that produces food-supporting biodiversity and enhances soil health. They can only use approved substances and organic farming methods. Many of the coffees that we buy adhere to all the principles of organic farming, but the farmer or cooperative simply has not paid to have the organization certified, or has failed to meet the criteria due to small matters that would not otherwise contradict the principles behind the certification. Achieving certification is a costly and long-term process that many farmers struggling in cyclical poverty cannot access. For this reason, we support and encourage smallholder farmers who practice ecologically sustainable farming practices, whether or not they are third-party certified, on their pathway to obtaining organic certification, or  already certified.

+ Is your coffee fair trade?

First of all, what is Fair Trade? Fair Trade prices were established to certify a buyer paying a price for coffee that surpasses a known cost of production for the farmer. It is a floor, not a ceiling. This said, the price to produce a pound of high quality specialty coffee has inflated since Fair Trade was established and though the model works well to ensure a pathway towards financial self-sufficiency for so many producers, we do not believe the floor price is a sustainable one for a producer based on research today. Across many reputable studies the known cost to produce 1 lb of coffee for the archetypical small scale farmer ranges from $1.30 USD to $1.50 USD (where Fair Trade minimum falls at $1.40 USD, and this is the price the exporter earns, not necessarily always the farmer (who might see 60-80% of that). Caravella importers white paper Fair Trade and Cornell University paper Bellweather white paper This said, we do purchase from Fair Trade certified Co-Ops, but we always pay a differential above the floor Fair Trade price. Of our coffees purchased in 2021, 13% were certified Fair Trade Certified, but 100% paid above Fair Trade FOB price by a full $1.23 USD per LB. Additionally, 27% of our coffees in this period contributed to improvements to Health Care or Food Security, 38% supported women-driven businesses and 40% of them supported youth development and education.

Our vision of responsible sourcing includes certifications, but is not limited to coffees that have them. Why? Because certified coffees can contribute to the development of  a sustainable industry, but they are not the only, and not always the easiest or price accessible pathway for a farmer or farmer group to adopt. Furthermore, models like Fair Trade floor prices have since been challenged by buyers like Dispatch for failing to increase at the pace of farmer's costs of production.

+ Is your coffee direct trade?

In short, no, and we do not  associate this phrase with a high(er) impact way of purchasing coffee than how we currently do. We will try to unpack this further here:

“Direct Trade” is a model that favours the elimination of intermediaries between producers and roasters. It is important to highlight that “eliminating intermediaries” does NOT necessarily means more money goes to the farmers than when coffee is traded through intermediaries like importers:

“Direct Trade” has been commonly defined in our industry as an approach to purchasing coffee from the farmer to the roaster. This may be possible in certain producing countries, and with certain farm archetypes where farmers have the foundational structures in place to export their own coffee and access markets abroad. However, there are many millions of farmers who rely on cooperatives, collection centres, mills and exporters to move to the roasting phase of the distribution chain. This is the prevalent  structure in most of the producing countries where our coffees come from..

Decreasing intermediaries does not inherently lead to increasing income for farmers 

In some form, all coffee is traded through intermediaries. Not only is there a wide variety  of “farm archetypes”, but there are also a myriad of intermediary structures between farmers and roasters. All coffee must move through four primary steps before final consumption, and in each of these stages, there can be multiple local actors or agents required to move coffee from one step to the next: from cultivation (in producing country), to  processing into green coffee (in producing country), to  roasting (generally in consuming country), and, finally, to d) packaging/retailing (generally in consuming country).

We choose to purchase most of our coffee from smallholder farmers (holding less than 10 hectares of land) because research supports  that this is where we can have the greatest impact, both economically and socially. Smallholder farmers tend to be the  most vulnerable coffee producers, and those with the  least market access  in the traditional coffee supply chain. They are also plentiful - over 25 million of them produce 80% of our world’s coffee. 

In order to access smallholder farmers, informal producers associations, and cooperatives, we need to work with intermediaries. Importers, the intermediaries that we most frequently communicate with, are carefully selected business partners. We require that they  share key aspects of our vision toward increasing farmers’ economic agency, and they often have long standing relationships with cooperatives  and smallholder farmers. All of our importers have active, on-the-ground presence in the producing countries they represent, allowing them to  provide pricing and impact traceability to buyers like us, and to better understand the personalized needs of each farming community. 

The positive impacts of "Direct trade” are only as effective as the roaster who is buying the coffee. Traditionally, roasters hold the largest margins of any intermediary in the coffee supply chain. If direct trade is able to transmit more of the roaster’s costs directly to the farmer, thereby increasing the farmer income, this is good, in principle, but direct trade can just as easily enable roasters to simply keep more of the total margin without meaningfully increasing the farmer income, and furthermore without  supporting  the operations of value-driven importers like those we choose to work with.

+ Shipping and returns
+ Where do you delivery by bike?

We currently only deliver by bicycle in Montreal. Please see the postal codes that fall within our delivery designation. See bike delivery zone

+ When do you ship out my order?

We are currently committed to fulfll your orders and have our shipping partners pick up in our warehouse for delivery within 48 business hours after your order has been placed. Based on which carrier and delivery method that you have selected at checkout, you can anticipate additional delays in the realm of 24 business hours thereafter to maximum 7 business days if you are located in the most remote parts of Canada or International. The fastest delivery methods should you live in the right zone for this service is Pick up In Store (Get your package same day!) or bike courrier (guaranteed delivery within 72 business hours after your order has been placed) We are continuously working to balance fastest delivery turnaround from order processing while keeping shipping costs affordable to you.

+ Our Return Policy
  • Coffee beans are non-returnable and non-refundable

  • Coffee Subscriptions that have been processed are not refundable. You can enter your Account and cancel your next month’s delivery up until your next order is processed. Your next charge date is indicated in your Account. We always remind you two (2) days before we charge you.

  • Unused Equipment - Equipment unused and in original packaging can be returned and fully refunded within 30 days of purchase and order confirmation. E-mail us at info@disptachcoffee.ca to inquire about a return. Your refund will be processed in your bank account approximately 5-10 business days after we receive the returned equipment.  Original shipping charges are non-refundable.Shipping charges incurred in connection with the return of a product are non-refundable.

  • Used Equipment is non-returnable and non-refundable see manufacturer's warranty when applicable.

+ Subscriptions and billing
+ When does my next monthly delivery ship out?

1. Login your account using the Account icon on the navigation bar at the top of this page.

2. In the "Manage My Subscription" section, you will find the next forecasted charge date. After this charge date, our team will process and ship out the order within two business days. Depending on which shipping method you selected (bike, pick up in store, or ground ship), and where you are located, you will receive your order within 24 hours from there up to 3 business days.

+ When do I get charged for my monthly subscription?

1. Login your account using the Account icon on the navigation bar at the top of this page.

2. In the "Manage My Subscription" section, you will see a date at the top of your account for your next order. It is on this date that your credit card on file will be charged.

+ Can I skip or Pause my monthly coffee plan?

Yes, in order to change the status of your subscription, sign into your account to access the "Modify Your Plan" section, and select "Pause" (1 month or 3 month) or "Adjust next order date" to update your coffee plan. If you unpause your account, your default next order date will be 24 hours later. We will always send you an e-mail notification 72 hours before your upcoming charge.

+ How do I change my email or password?

Enter your account and scroll down until you see the “change password” section. If you cannot access your account, click the Account icon on the top navigation bar, on the Login pop up window, you will see a prompt to Reset Password. Follow the instructions ensuing in your e-mail!

+ How do I pick up in store?

You will receive an e-mail notification when your order is ready for pick up. Show up at the cash at any of our eligible cafés for pick up of e-commerce orders (4021 Boulevard St-Laurent Montreal, 267 St-Zotique O. Montreal, 390 Bay Street Toronto) and you will be asked to present a piece of identification to claim your delivery! Pick-ups must occur during store hours, see here!

Mcgill Cafe Locations page

+ What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept most major credit card providers, such as Visa, Mastercard and Discover. Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot accept American Express, money orders, e-transfers, cash, or cheques. 

+ Can I modify shipping dates on my pre-paid subscription?

Absolutely! Login to your account. You can modify your next order date in two ways 1. Pause for 1 or 3 months 2. Modify next order date and select a calendar date for your next charge Screenshot here

+ Coffee product and how to brew

To get detailed step-by-step Preparation guides for the most common brewing methods at home go here!

+ Is your coffee roasted for filter or espresso?

There is not significant variation among our roast levels or colours - all could be described as medium/medium-light. We differentiate our coffees by where they come from. We roast each of our coffees to be sweet, clear, and versatile enough to taste delicious as both espresso and filter. When we roast a coffee, we develop a recipe that will represent it to its fullest potential, no matter how you brew at home. For those who prefer certain flavour profiles for their favourite brewing methods, feel free to let us know what you're looking for and we'll be happy to help you find it: info@dispatchcoffee.ca 

+ Are there fruits and nuts in your coffee? What are the flavour descriptions?

No we do not add flavouring to our coffee! Our tasting notes are the aromas and tastes that our roasters perceive in the cup when we source, grade and taste each coffee origin in our production facility - these flavours are 100% natural and intrinsic in the coffee bean and come from many variables such as the geographic region, plant varietal and processing method of that coffee. Coffee is the seed of a fruit called a cherry and just like grapes for wine, a coffee fruit from Ethiopia or Guatemala will taste entirely differently. A large part of our product philosophy is to highlight each origin's unique flavours, instead of standardizing the taste of all of our coffees with the roasting process.

+ How do I make my coffee less bitter?

Bitterness is a characteristic of over-extracted coffee which means that ground coffee has been in contact with water for too long. The quickest variable to modify that may reduce bitterness is coarsening your grind by one grind setting. This will allow water to flow through the coffee bed at a faster rate and reduce over-extraction. Do this while using the same dose of coffee until you find your desired sweet spot.  You can check out our how to brew page for more tips on optimizing your brew, or reach out to us with questions at info@dispatchcoffee.ca

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