Transparently Traded Coffee

Increased transparency in the coffee market matters. Please find resources below to help you understand the coffee supply chain and the power of transparency. (see our coffee listings registered along with those of other transparently traded coffees)



Roast Magazine Article: Transparency and the Coffee Supply Chain

March 12, 2015

Anyone following Farmers to 40 Updates should read the 2013 Roast Magazine article titled The Long Pipe: Transparency and the Coffee Supply Chain. Recognizing that “transparency has become especially important for roasters interested in pursuing long-term trading relationships with farms under the direct or relationship model,” this story lays out a number of transparency pros and cons, as articulated by several specialty coffee roasters. 

A few quotes provide a feel for the issues that are addressed in the story:

  • “This is not an industry that has a long history with benevolence and transparency.”
  • “Knowing the origin of a coffee doesn’t mean you have any kind of connection with the producer.”
  • “… it was mostly farmers who took notice: At least a couple of our partnering farmers were checking out the list to see what prices we were paying to other direct-trade partners.”
  • “… simply posting purchasing prices isn’t a meaningful indicator for customers … if you’re just throwing numbers out there with no reference to anything else, what does it mean?”
  • “No one reads the transparency scorecard. We get zero questions about it.”
  • “… it’s critical in healthy, long-term business relationships for growers to understand why their coffee costs $15 per pound retail in the United States, when they were paid $4.”
  • “No one I spoke with argued that increasing transparency for the purposes of improving relationships in the supply chain was a bad idea. (Though the value is broadly accepted, it should be noted that still only a fraction of transactions are performed transparently.)”
  • “… makes it incredibly easy to take advantage of consumers, especially in the direct trade model … there are so many definitions, and there is so little accountability. No one is holding us accountable publicly.”
  • “In some cases it’s less about what a consumer wants than it is about our responsibility to be as clear as possible. We need to give people more than they ask for.”

It is also informative to take a quick look at how pricing transparency is being addressed on the current websites of the roasters that were mentioned in this story (click through each reference for more information):

  • Scarlet City Coffee Roasters … No references on the current website relate to the treatment or compensation of coffee growers.