New Internationalist Issue 271
The well-informed coffee
In less than ten years the fair-trade movement has grown rapidly across Europe, North America and Australasia. High-quality coffee is one of its leading products.
THE FAIR TRADE CRITERIA
All of the brands and organizations quoted here endorse the following broad principles:
- An equal partnership of mutual respect between producers and consumers
- A long-term commitment to purchase
- Informed consumers
- A guaranteed minimum price to be paid to producers, which may involve a 'surcharge' or premium over and above the world-market price
- No intermediaries - direct buying from the producers
- Control of production by the producers
- A commitment to improve social conditions for producers
- Care for the environment by encouraging organic methods of growing coffee
Trade Aid Importers
PO Box 35 049
Tel: (3) 385 3535
Fax: (3) 385 3536
Trade Aid works in partnership with more than 80 self-help craft/producer groups in developing countries worldwide. It aims to establish real partnerships with those groups in order to assist them in achieving self-reliance. Coffee and tea form approximately 16 per cent of Trade Aid's total sales of $2,246,717.
One of the groups which Trade Aid supports is the Atiu Coffee Factory (www.adc.co.ck/factory), a small company on the tiny island of Atiu, which is one of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. The Factory is Atiu's biggest employer. Growers on Atiu and neighbouring Aitutaki now have a guaranteed market after the failure of other export earnings. Twenty-two family-operated farms sell beans directly to the factory at prices which compare favourably on the international market. The latest Atiu coffee has a revolutionary one-way freshness valve believed to be the first of its kind in Aotearoa. With a gentle squeeze of the pack customers can enjoy the tantalizing aroma before they buy. The coffee is sold as beans or ground in medium or dark roast through Trade Aid's 35 shops, or by mail order round the world.
New Internationalist - Adelaide office
28 Austin St
Ph: +61 8 8232 1563
Fax: +61 8 8232 1887
Buy Nicaragua Arabica coffee online now from NI Australia
Community Aid Abroad Trading
PO Box 184 Kilkenny
Tel: (618) 341 1422
Fax: (618) 341 2958
Freephone enquiries on shops (008) 088 455
Close contact with coffee-producing partners provides 'grounds for a fairer deal', according to CAA. Rather than buy on the open market, CAA Trading has established a working relationship with coffee growers. The Coocafe (www.coocafe.com) co-operative in the north-western region of Guanecaste in Costa Rica is one example. The co-operative Ð six groups of local farmers Ð aims to sell its coffee at a fair price, at the same time mobilizing funds to preserve the environment. Coocafe have started a large reforestation programme to protect nearby tropical forests. Every kilo of the Forestal coffee sold ensures one US dollar is put back into the reforestation programme. Coocafe provides many other benefits to members. These include a provident fund, healthcare, low-interest loans and a non-profit, general-produce shop. CAA Trading sells several types of coffee, including Coocafe, by mail order or through their 15 shops throughout Australia.
Suite B2, 196 Old Street
London EC1V 9FR
Tel: (20) 7490 9520
Equal Exchange (UK), Twin Trading, Oxfam Trading and Traidcraft have come together to produce and promote Britain's leading fair-traded coffee brand, which is now available in most retail outlets in both ground and premium freeze-dried form. It is a rich, smooth blend of coffee produced by co-operative farmers in Latin America and Africa, including CECOVASA in Peru.
The Fair Trade Foundation
Room 204, 16 Baldwin's Gardens
London EC1N 7RJ
Tel: (20) 7405 5942
Fax: (20) 7405 5943
Established by CAFOD, Christian Aid, New Consumer, Oxfam, Traidcraft Exchange and the World Development Movement, the Foundation sets independent criteria to recognize and endorse fairly-traded products such as coffee, tea, cocoa and chocolate with the Fairtrade Mark.
108 Third Ave
Tel: (613) 231 5488
Fax:(613) 231 2106
Canada's Bridgehead Trading is the foremost fair-trader of coffee in the country and is supplied from production co-ops in Nicaragua (where it began ten years ago in solidarity with the Sandinista revolution), Mexico, Tanzania and the Dominican Republic. The Esperanza ('Hope') co-operative in the small town of El Cacao in the Dominican Republic is typical. It has established two small shops, a clinic and a pharmacy and also provides processing and warehousing facilities for both domestic and export coffee sales. Esperanza now has over 700 members. Bridgehead imports green coffee beans and transforms them into a number of blends, from the full-bodied Nicaraguan to Mexican organic and the more mellow Dominican. The production co-ops which Bridgehead deals with are democratically-run by smallholders. In 1994-95 Bridgehead imported 125,000 pounds (57,000 kilos) of coffee with an approximate net worth of $237,000. They have a mail-order catalogue containing coffee, tea, food and craft items.
The Max Havelaar Foundation
3500 BG Utrecht
Tel: (30) 334602
Fax: (30) 332992
One of the pioneers of fair-traded coffee, the Foundation was set up after Mexican coffee farmers told the Dutch development-aid organization Solidaridad in 1986 that, as far as they were concerned, there would be no need for development aid if they received a fair price for their coffee. The Foundation owns the Max Havelaar Quality Mark which controls the manufacturers who make use of it. It is applied to coffee and cocoa. Almost $20 million has already been paid directly to producers from the fair-trade surcharge alone. The Quality Mark is available in almost all major Dutch stores as well as 300 of the 675 town halls, all provincial government buildings, at the Dutch Lower House of Parliament, in some ministries and in the European Parliament. The Quality Mark has been extended to Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, France and Luxembourg. Transfair, a similar initiative, was established in Germany in 1993 and has now been launched in Austria as well as in Japan through mail order.
BOSIA coffee committee - link to http://www.bosia.org
Established in 1986 Equal Exchange is now the largest alternative-trade coffee company in the US. In 1994 the company sold half a million pounds (200,000 kilos) of coffee worth $1.85 million. Equal Exchange works directly with small-scale farmer co-operatives in Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru. Between 1989 and 1993 it paid out $750,000 above the price co-op members would normally have received for their crop. Their Costa Rican partner is Coocafe, (see 'Australia' above). In Mexico, the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Isthmus Region (UCIRI) runs a hardware and farm-supply store, healthcare services and its own agricultural extension and training programmes. The company also supports sustainable agriculture and encourages producers to convert to organic farming. There is a growing market for chemical-free coffee in the US and farmers receive a premium for certified organic coffees. Equal Exchange offers five different styles of its premium brands: from Full City 'sweet, full-bodied, aromatic, delicately complex') to French ('for serious coffee drinkers, a dominant, intense, bittersweet flavour with no acidic characteristics').
Cafe La Selva,
Hacienda Molina de Flores #4
Mexico, DF 14750
Tel: (55) 5677 0703
Fax : (55) 5684 2617
Cafe La Selva is now selling and serving organic coffee direct to consumers from the Union de Ejidos de la Selva coffee-producing co-operative based in Comitan, Chiapas, one of the longest-standing suppliers to Cafedirect (see NI 251). The first of its kind in the country, the shop opened in May 1995 after an extremely difficult year for the producers, following the Chiapas uprising in January 1994. Its purpose is to promote the consumption of high-quality coffee in Mexico, increase public awareness of the Union's work in the social and environmental fields and expand alternative sales outlets. A welcome addition, too, to any self-respecting tourist's itinerary.
José Juarez Varela
Fair-trade coffee is not yet widely available. Many of the organizations listed here deal with African producers and can offer advice on where to get fair-traded coffee.
©Copyright: New Internationalist 1995
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