Have you ever heard of Fair Trade Coffee? Of course you have! What about Direct Impact? Probably not as much, if ever.
Direct Impact Coffee is, simply put, coffee that is sourced ethically and fair with a direct impact on the lives of coffee farmers and their communities.
How does this differ from Fair Trade? Fair Trade is a certification given to those farmers who commit to a certain price, join a cooperative, and in general are protected by the certification guidelines by Fair Trade USA or Fairtrade International(1).
That sounds really good doesn't it? However, Fair Trade means that the premium you pay for the coffee goes to a cooperative, not the farmer, and you are most likely getting low-quality beans because it makes more sense for the farmers as they receive very little compensation for their fair trade beans (1). In some cases, because the farmer has to pay a fee to "enjoy" membership in the cooperative, the farmer receives less benefits than if he/she had not joined Fair Trade (2).
Doesn't sound so fair to us!
That is not to say that Fair Trade is inherently bad. The idea and vision behind Fair Trade which started during the coffee crisis in the 1980s was to ensure that coffee producers would not sell their coffee for less than an amount that would support their wages and living (3). That idea was, and is, a good idea and it really helped create a sustainable coffee industry. For farmers who are landowners, Fair Trade can be a good option and we are proud that our partners work with Fairtrade International.
P.s If you haven't already, we recommend you read our article "10 Things Wrong With Fair Trade" for a more in-depth analysis of Fair Trade (promise we also mention good things).
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So, how does Direct Impact differ from Fair Trade?
As the name suggests, Direct Impact Coffee is coffee that is sourced and roasted in a matter that directly impacts the farmers that produce them. We work with Gaviña, a local coffee roaster in Los Angeles whose family immigrated from Cuba in the 1950s(4). The Gaviña family still owns and operates the company, and their love for coffee and its origins is evident in all they do:
"Our family’s roots are in the coffee farms in the southern mountains of Cuba. Generation after generation of growers and roasters, our deep connection to the land is why we always honor the plant and the people who cultivate it. Because sustainable coffee is our family’s legacy and exceptional quality is how we celebrate it." (4).
"SAFE QUALITY FOOD INSTITUTE LEVEL 3 CERTIFICATION"
How can we know that Gaviña buys their coffee from where they say that they do?Gaviña is certified SQF Level 3, which means their coffee is 100 percent traceable from coffee lot to each individual bag of beans (4).
How does Gaviña directly impact the farmers they work with?
Gaviña builds schools and hospitals in the communities where their farmers are located in order to give back to the farmers who produce such quality coffee for them. They also buy directly from the farmer. Unlike earlier decades, coffee farmers (even in poor countries) now have access to the market prices and value of coffee beans, which means that they know to charge a premium for high quality coffee. And the premium we pay for this high quality coffee? It goes directly to the farmer and his workers. Not to a middle man or cooperative.
That is why we are so proud to serve DIRECT IMPACT coffee.
Every cup you order, every cup we make, every bag of beans we purchase, and every single bean Gaviña roasts, is helping farmers in some of the poorest regions in the world not just survive - but thrive.
And to think that we are doing that? You and us. Together.
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