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Coffee is in crisis. Here's what we're doing.

Over 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day. Coffee is the world's sixth largest carbon impact food, and millions of coffee farmers today sell their crop for less than it costs to produce. From day one, we've asked ourselves "is there a better way?" We built our supply chain from the ground up, considering the social and environmental impacts of our vertical operations, and continuously striving towards a more sustainable and equitable direction. Scroll down to learn more. We update this page regularly.

Where Our Coffee Comes From

We are proud supporters of these change-making organizations

Buhorwa community

Transparency And Relationships

Are core values at the heart of our organization, and emblematic of our approach to responsible sourcing. Discover the story, people and places behind each of our coffees on each coffee's single coffee product page. Read more about the importance of purchasing relationships in our Blog post here.

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Thinking Differently About Coffee Prices

Coffee was established as a colonial cash crop over 500 years ago. According to numerous studies, prices paid for green specialty coffees still today often do not cover the full cost of production.

A pound of coffee will pass through several intermediaries before landing on a grocery store shelf. This makes price transfer and equitable payment accountability rather opaque. We are tenacious about rigorous data collection and pricing discovery within our various supply chains so that we may 1) uncover pricing models outside of industry standard that ensure profitable income for the producers who supply us and 2) provide full price traceability to you, the consumer Check back soon for a transparent pricing and benchmark report.

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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 and rendering each stage of our supply chain more efficient in waste and GHG output. Here are some of these initiatives today:

Sourcing, cultivation, processing: > 30% of our past 32 coffees came from Organic certified co-ops > For the past 40 coffees contracted, 73% have donated proceeds ($0.02 cents/LB) 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. Roasting packaging, shipping and distribution: > Roasting our coffee with an afterburner. Coffee roasters emit various pollutants including methane, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. Since we established our roasting facility we've seen great improvements to roasting technology, and look forward to implementing more energy efficient equipment into our roastery when we inevitably expand our operations. > Donating our experimental and waste roasted coffee on a recurring basis to these community organizations: Moisson Montreal, Native Women's Shelter or Mile End Mission. > Choosing biodegradable packaging material for our retail coffee bags, see our manufacturing partners here. > Packaging our café coffee for service in reusable buckets instead of disposable 5LB bags > We have two zero emission shipment options in Montreal for our online orders - Bike courier delivery with local courrier partners Chasseurs Courrier, and Pick-Up in Store Retail operations: > Composting coffee grinds and food waste at 2/3 of our Montreal café locations to reduce

landfill contributions > Incentivizing our customers to bring reusable mugs

by offering a $0.25 c discount > Working with local food suppliers for our pastry and dairy in order to maintain a shorter supply lifecycle

Responsibility and Transparency FAQ

Dispatch is a social enterprise. In our company, impact management is an ongoing practice of measurement and improvement, reducing the negative and increasing the positive. We support the priorities of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and share the view that businesses have a role to play in implementing solutions to our world's most pressing crises. Many of these global crises intersect with the global coffee industry and supply chains.

When answering questions about impact, we believe it is important to define terminology, as "responsibility", “ethics” and “sustainability” can be interpreted in many ways. This enables us to build consensus as a team, and those sharing data with us across our supply chain, as well as with you, our customers. 

We consider impact across many spheres in our supply chain, from coffee purchasing, to our employer policies and company culture, all the way to packaging and distribution. 

We are working to make our organizational impacts more transparent and measurable in 2021. For now you can visit our website page that outlines our responsible purchasing practice and ways in which we work to reduce our environmental footprint.

+ 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.

Where does your coffee come from?

From many places and people! *All data is taken from a study of 47 coffees served or contracted from late 2018 through the present. You can e-mail us at info@dispatchcoffee.ca for more information on this study. 

Among the 47 coffees with comparable datasets accounted for in this study, 77% of our were produced by smallholder farmers (farmers holding 5 or fewer hectares of land)). We made these purchases  via regional communities of farmers, cooperatives, and informal producer associations, as market and export accessibility is rare for a single smallholder farmer. 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. 

The majority of the other coffees considered in this study come from family farms or estates smaller than 100 hectares, which would still be considered “small” compared to commercial agri-businesses. “  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

  • Sucafina

  • Interamerican

  • Red Fox Coffee Merchants

  • Nordic Approach

+ 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?

Of the past 40 coffees we have purchased or contracted as of December 2020, 30% were certified Organic.

73% of them donated proceeds on every KG 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 2021, 100% of our coffees will incorporate a donation to WCR.

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?

Approximately  15% of the past 40 coffees we have purchased or contracted as of December 2020 in 2019-2020 were certified Fair Trade Certified.

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. Fair Trade guarantees that a minimum premium above the commodities price for coffee $1.40 USD per pound (Paid to the exporter, not the farmer, so the farmer may earn 50-70% of this depending on the supply chain) for their coffee. 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. Our  average Farmgate price on our last 36 contracted coffees averaged at 1.90/LB USD. The past five year average commercial price for a pound of coffee is $1.10/LB USD. All this to say, a certification is not a replacement for pricing or supply chain transparency and coffee producers may still earn less than their operating costs, even in a Fair Trade certified supply chain. READ MORE

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