Guys, lets have some real talk about coffee and sustainability. Specifically, how coffee gets from the farm to your cup.
Fact: Coffee is the second most highly traded commodity in the world next to oil - let that seep in for just a second, folks.
The thing with commodities is that there are so many people involved in the business of trading them and getting them to the end user - and all of those people want to make as much money as possible - someone, or many people end up getting the short end of the monetary stick. When it comes to coffee, the people most often holding the short straw are the farmers who worked very hard to make your $5 macchiato possible.
Blanchard's Coffee Co. buys several coffees in the traditional manner on the commodities market with brokers. The coffees we source in this manner are excellent, quality-wise, and consistent. Many of these coffees are staple foundations for some of our most popular blends. Do the farmers harvesting these coffees get a fair price for their hard work? Well, they get industry standard pricing which keeps them living and farming, but we all know it could be better.
Several years ago, Blanchard's Coffee Co., recognizing that the system could, in fact, be better, earned its Fair Trade Certification. Fair Trade Certification ensures that a certain percentage of the coffee we source, roast and sell is Fair Trade Certified. It also ensures that there is oversight of this by a certification agency - in our case that is Fair Trade USA. Fair Trade Certified coffees are slightly more expensive and a larger percentage of the total purchase price goes back to the farmer, hopefully improving their life in some way.
We're proud to be a Fair Trade Certified roaster and it goes hand in hand with our corresponding USDA Organic Certification, but here's where the real straight talk comes in - of the $50,000+ we spent on Fair Trade Certified coffee in the past year, about $1,000 above and beyond standard pricing actually made it to the farm level. That is spread over six origin countries, by the way. It is something, yes, but once again, we think it can get a lot better.
Blanchard's Coffee Co. currently sources six different Direct Trade coffee varieties from five different countries. What is Direct Trade coffee? Pretty simple - we cut out the commodities market and all the middlemen and get as close to handing a farmer a wad of cash as possible. We work with three companies (Thrive Farmers, Sriwijawa Coffee and Tierra Alianza) to source our Direct Trade selections.
How does it work? These three companies all operate in a similar basic fashion - they either own or invest in farms with potential to produce top-end coffees. They work at the farm level to increase quality, sustainability and yield then they come back to craft roasters like Blanchard's Coffee Co. and sell directly.
What makes this better? For every single pound of Direct Trade coffee we purchase to roast, at least 75% of our purchase price goes directly into the farmers' hands. In context, that means if we buy and roast just two bags (300lb) of this coffee, which takes us about ten days, we have already surpassed the entire total farmer benefit for an entire year spread over six countries... FOR ONE FARMER.
The numbers, clearly, are staggering. Needless to say, given our mission of sustainability, we are pushing as hard as we can in the direction of Direct Trade coffee. The beautiful thing is that it barely affects the final price you pay at the store. Not only that, but these farmers are taking their earnings and investing them right back into their farms because they see how much easier it is to sell more coffee at better prices when the coffee is, simply, better; so your cup of coffee keeps getting better the more you support sustainability from soil to cup.
We really hope you'll join us in this movement.
With that said, here are our Direct Trade Coffees and a few places you can buy them:
San Rafael Urias Estate, Antigua, Guatemala
La Violeta, Tarrazu, Costa Rica
Organic Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic
Lintong Estate, Sumatra
Gayo Mountain, Gajah Estate, Sumatra
--more blends to come--
Ellwood Thompson Local Market
Dawson's Market (Rockville, MD)
The Blanchard's Coffee Co. Roast Lab
Select Kroger Locations
Whole Foods Market Short Pump
Crossroads Coffee, VCU