Today there are countless certifications of what coffee is and isn’t, it is hard to keep track of. You see certifications on every coffee bag in every coffee shop around the world. So what do all these certifications mean? What is Direct Trade coffee and how is it different from other certifications? Aveley Farms Coffee Roasters is proud to partner with importers who have established Direct Trade relationships with coffee growers around the world! We are looking forward to a sourcing trip to origin later this year and establishing our own relationships with coffee farmers!
What is Direct Trade Coffee? In short, Direct Trade Coffee is a coffee buying model where the green coffee is purchased directly from the coffee farmer. This ensures fair prices are paid (well above the C-Market prices), strong relationships are formed to ensure sustainability, and feedback is given to ensure quality and improvements for future coffee lots. Direct Trade coffee is sometimes referred to as Relationship coffee and this could not be more accurate.
Direct Trade coffee is about long running relationships built between coffee roasters and coffee growers to establish transparency in the coffee chain. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that fails if one side does not honor its commitment. The coffee roaster provides feedback to the farmer on the quality of the coffee produced with the ideal of producing better and better coffee each year. The roaster pays a premium directly to the farmer for the quality of the coffee. This eliminates the middlemen and ensures more money and resources are being paid directly to the farmer and their workers.
The farmer on the other hand puts processes in place that ensure better quality control and ultimately better coffee each year. This is afforded by the premium the coffee roaster pays to allow the workers a better quality of life, new water tanks, drying beds, pulping machines, etc. There is also the incentive to produce higher scoring coffee, which will result in higher premiums year after year. Once a direct trade relationship is established, the coffee growers and roasters will often work on micro lots within their farms. This is a controlled lot carefully maintained to produce desired cupping profiles specifically for that coffee roaster. These coffees can often times score extremely high resulting in notoriety for the farmer as well as the roaster.
Now that you have an understanding of Direct Trade Coffee, How is Direct Trade Coffee different from Fair Trade Coffee? Rainforest Alliance Coffee? Organic Coffee?
The most well known certification of these is Fair Trade Certified. Fair trade coffee is run by a non-profit organization that started with a good idea, but can be misleading to the public. Fair Trade’s idea is to set a minimum price per pound above the C-market that coffee must be purchased for. Coffee farmers must adhere to certain standards to be certified Fair Trade. The problem with this is farmers will spend money to meet standards, but not recoup the money spent in order to be Fair Trade certified. The other problem is, even if Fair Trade standards are met it is hard to trace the amount of money the farmer receives. Direct Trade relationships are much more sustainable, traceable, and allow more resources and feedback directly to the farmer.
Rainforest Alliance certification is a sustainable agricultural standard that includes environmental, social and economic factors. Again, farmers must meet certain standards set forth by the Rainforest Alliance group in order to receive this certification. Rainforest Alliance relates back to sustainable farming, conservation efforts, improved quality of life for workers, improved farming practices, equipment and more.
Certified Organic Coffee is certified and monitored by the USDA. Organic coffee must be grown under strict practices that include no pesticides, fertilizers or synthetic processes. It does not specify any improved working conditions for the workers and cost more to be certified organic. Organic coffee can fetch higher premiums, but it does not necessarily dictate a better tasting coffee. Organic coffee does have its place in the industry and it is up to the farmer to decide if this is the right certification for their coffee!
Overall Direct Trade Coffee is the most transparent and sustainable coffee practice. It ensures farmers are paid fairly (well above Fair Trade Certified) high quality coffee is produced, and sustainable practices are used. At Aveley Farms Coffee Roasters we strive to partner with Direct Trade importers and farmers at origin to deliver the highest quality coffee to you!
You can view more details on certifications and visit the organizations through: https://www.freshcup.com/coffee-certifications/