From There to Here to You: Creating a Coffee Community

Honduras_200x150Coffee 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.

Crimson Cup began carrying organic Fair Trade coffees more than a decade ago. But we also sought a way to go beyond Fair Trade to connect consumers directly with the farmers who grow their coffee.

We found the way by developing our new Friend2Farmer® program. It’s about empowering coffee farmers and farming communities to produce an awesome crop to sustain themselves.

Our cuppers have traveled 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 Friend2Farmer, we’re creating 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.

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