you’ve probably heard a lot of discussion in the coffee industry around transparency. this usually relates to the price roasters paid to the farmers for green coffee. the movement came about as many large commercial roasters are buying ‘commodity coffee’ in bulk, and paying very low prices to the farmers, sometimes below cost. we won’t bore you with the long explanation, but basically because ‘commodity coffee’ can be traded on the stock market, it’s left open to dramatic variations in price & it’s almost always the farmer who loses out (never the billion dollar corporations, of course).

price transparency began with some big-time specialty roasters overseas boldly stating the price they paid for all of their green. they hoped to encourage other roasters to do the same, and in the process, to weed out those doing the wrong thing (putting profit ahead of people).

is being transparent about price enough?

we don’t believe so. it doesn’t really affect those of us on the specialty scene. ‘specialty coffee’ isn’t traded on the stock market, and it’s generally way more expensive due to the traceability and meticulous care that goes into each stage of processing, resulting in a higher quality product. so, when we are buying new lots, we pay what the farmer asks because we know it’s worth it.

it’d be great if being transparent on price meant those big corporations would also need to declare the prices they pay, but that’s not the case. transparency to us isn’t about stating the cost of our green, it’s about being transparent on how, where & from whom we buy our coffee.

so, as well as making sure we’re always paying fair prices to our farmers, we also implemented our own guidelines on how we source our beans, what’s important to us & what we look for in our partnerships with coffee farms.

our sourcing guidelines.

firstly, ethical sourcing is paramount. we only deal with farms that are 100% child-labour free. it sounds like a no brainer, but it actually happens a lot more than you might think. the laws in many foreign countries don’t always have adequate protections in place, that’s why we’re committed to doing our due diligence before we partner with farms.

environmental factors are another huge one for us. we’re always on the lookout for producers who share our love for the environment. we’re wanting to work with farms who produce sustainably grown coffee & have also committed to helping them achieve this where we can.

perhaps the most important thing for us is building ongoing relationships & dealing with the same farms every harvest, especially for our blend coffees. we think these long-term partnerships work really well for both parties. it means the farms have secure buyers for the majority of the coffee they produce & this is their livelihood. it also allows us to work together with the farms to produce even better coffees year on year and get access to some of their more sought after microlots. we’re able to invest back into the farms & their surrounding communities & benefit from the amazing coffees they continually produce.

we’re also conscious of the environmental impact of the transportation of our green coffee from overseas. working consistently with the same farms allows us to minimise this impact & maximise container space by buying multiple lots at a time. this is why you’ll often see we have singles from the same farms we buy our blend coffees from. we tend to use brokers for much smaller lots when we don’t have an existing relationship in place with the farm, as the broker is already shipping a whole container of coffee from the origin.

we also have some initiatives in the works to provide more support at farm level. once we have more info, you’ll be able to read about it over on our community initiatives blog post.