News & Updates from the Team

Reflections on the First Full Year of Farmers to 40

In a previous Farmers to 40 Update, we talked about the share of revenues that coffee farmers are receiving from the direct trade sales of specialty coffee roasters. For example, based on information in their 2012 Transparency Report and on sales figures collected on-line, it looks like Counter Culture returns roughly 20 percent of their direct trade coffee revenues to the farmers who grow the beans.

 In this Update, we report sales figures and farmer revenue shares from the first full year of Farmers to 40:

Revenues 11-3-14.png

This table (which is the aggregate of the individual reports that are sent to each of our farmers) suggests that: 

  • 1,575 (12-ounce) bags of coffee were sold as Farmers to 40;
  • 162 (12-ounce) bags of coffee were sold as Farmers to 30; and
  • 4,260 pounds of green coffee were sold as Farmers to 20.

These sales translated into $18,795 of revenues for our farmers. Therefore, for coffee sold through the program this season, farmers received an average of $3.13 per green pound. This breaks into $2.20 per green pound paid when the coffee left Nicaragua, and an additional $0.93 per green pound paid during and after the selling season. 

Although we are satisfied with this first full season of operations, we look forward to increasing the coffee revenues that flow back to farmers. These improvements will come from three different sources:

  1. Get coffee customers to pay more for the coffee that they buy. In 2012, Counter Culture returned 20 percent of their direct trade coffee revenues to their farmers, but their roasted coffee prices were considerably higher. This is why they were able to report an un-weighted average of $4.52 per green pound in their 2012 Transparency Report.
  2. Migrate Farmers to 20 coffee sales (where farmers get 20% of the expected retail price) to Farmers to 25, or higher. If we were able to move last season’s Farmers to 20 green coffee sales to Farmers to 25, we would have increased farmers’ revenue per green pound to $3.62.
  3. Sell more coffee! Selling 6,000 pounds of green coffee translated into additional revenues (i.e., above those implied by current Fair Trade price) of almost $7,500.  This is a decent start, but a literal drop in the bucket when compared to the $15 to $16 billion that American consumers spend annually on specialty coffee

Looking ahead, specialty coffee customers can help us – and other committed coffee roasters – by (1) paying more for truly excellent coffee, (2) demanding that their roasters return an equitable (and transparent) share of that price to farmers, and (3) buying more coffee from roasters that commit to being equitable and transparent in their dealings with the farmers who are working in coffee countries.