Changing coffee market conversations
Changing coffee market constructs
Changing coffee market compensation
As more specialty coffee consumers come to appreciate the critical role that farmers play in cultivating the coffee that we drink; as more of these consumers start asking roasters how much their farmers are paid; and as more roasters find ways to visibly display the share of specialty coffee prices that goes back to farmers; then specialty coffee markets will begin to ensure that more of the money that is spent on great coffee gets back to the communities where those coffees are grown.
In other words, as Farmers to 40 catches on, the farmers we work with will have a better chance of participating in global specialty coffee markets on equitable terms. The question that we ask and address this month is … which farmers should we be working with?
First and foremost, Farmers to 40 is designed for the specialty coffee market. Thus, participating farmers must be able and willing to produce the coffees that consumers will purchase for $11 … $14 … $46 per 12-ounce bag. This takes the right circumstances, along with considerable investments in time, skill and effort. These are the contributions that should be valued and paid for in specialty coffee markets.
Beyond this, we would like to ensure that the farmers who are first-in-line to benefit from these updated market conditions are those who ensure that as more money makes its way back to coffee communities, more of it is spent on things that improve the lives of the people living in those communities. This is why we are attracted to farms that are community pillars (Finca El Peten) and environmental stewards (Finca Los Pinos).
This latter requirement raises the critical issue of gender. Consider the following excerpt from a recent Guardian article:
“Small holder farmers produce the majority of the world's coffee. And within that women's work remains largely invisible, despite them doing approximately 60-80% of the productive work. Not only do they not gain financially, but they are usually not included in decision making within their coffee co-operative, community or even household. This can in part be due to their workload, but can also be their husband's reluctance to let them participate or their own lack of confidence. This is not just an issue for the women involved but for the communities themselves.”
A number of organizations with aspirations that align with the goals of Farmers to 40 are ensuring that women – and the work they do on their farms and in their communities – are recognized and compensated. For example, the International Women's Coffee Alliance works to “encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.” In Nicaragua, Root Capital works with SOPPEXCCA on a program to empower local women coffee farmers, while La Fundación Entre Mujeres (La FEM) is showing everyone the community benefits that come from programs that support women farmers.
These organizations and programs are highlighting the importance of addressing issues related to gender, as we think about how our expenditures on specialty coffee might have greater benefits for coffee-growing communities.
In this spirit, Farmers to 40 is pleased to introduce our third farmer, Ana Maria Lopez. Brew one cup of coffee grown on Finca Los Maderos and you will see that Ana Maria clearly meets our first criteria – her coffee is excellent. Then, as you learn more about her story, you will come to see how our direct trade model can work with farmers like Ana Maria to bring better coffee to consumers, while supporting better outcomes within coffee-growing communities.