Coffee is the world’s most valuable commodity after oil, worth more than $15 billion annually. The cultivation of coffee trees in the shaded, mountainous terrain where the best coffee grows is back-breaking work. Calloused palms plant seeds, transplant seedlings to mountainsides, prune, fertilize, irrigate, harvest coffee cherries and carry 200 pound sacks of ripe cherries down from the mountain.
Yet the small farmers and laborers who perform much of this work receive a disproportionately small portion of the revenue from the world’s largest cash crop. Most make less per day than the cost of a single coffee-shop cappuccino. Many live in homes with dirt floors, without electricity, medical care or even enough food to eat.
In the 1980s, Fair Trade began to address this problem by ensuring that small farmers receive a living wage for their coffee. The Fair Trade logo reassures consumers that the coffee beans they buy are grown by democratically run cooperatives of small farms that receive a decent price for their beans.
We found the way by becoming the exclusive roasting partner for Grower’s First. Founded in 2002, Grower’s First builds a bridge between coffee drinkers and remote, small-plot coffee growers. As a result, you can know your grower, drink their coffee (among the best in the world), and see the difference that your purchase makes in their lives.
Our cuppers have traveled with Grower’s First deep into the remote mountains of Honduras and Mexico to pick coffee cherries and share a meal with a farming family. We’re still on contact with these farmers, and it’s exciting when we receive their beans to roast.
Through Grower’s First, we’ve joined a community that connects the Crimson Cup team with small-plot farmers and coffee consumers. We’ve shown how the power of consumer choice can shape a sustainably better world. And found that the world’s best coffee really does taste better when you’re part of a community that’s changing lives with each cup.