Ethically sourcing coffee is vital to our sustainable practices at Big Dog Coffee. It’s our responsibility to ensure farmers are paid fairly for their annual harvest and that our customers are provided with a quality cup of coffee. All of the coffee on offer at Big Dog has been sourced through Direct or Fairtrade programs, in turn, supporting the economic, social and environmental facets of the developing nations whom are responsible for your quality coffee. Despite the positive impact Fair Trade has on the welfare of farmers, the work of the non-profit organisation does not come without limitations.
Fairtrade was established in response to the struggles of Mexican coffee farmers following the collapse of world coffee prices in 1988. Fairtrade works with 1.7 million coffee farmers across 30 countries. Colombia is currently the largest producer of Fair Trade coffee in the work.
The Fairtrade mission aims to “empower family farmers and workers around the world, while enriching the lives of those struggling in poverty” and to create wider conditions for sustainable development, equity, and environmental responsibility.
The average income of a coffee farmer is approximately £1.37 a day. With Fairtrade, farmers receive the Fairtrade Minimum Price, which aims to cover costs of production and act as a safety net when market prices fall below a sustainable level. If the market price exceeds the Fairtrade Minimum price level, then farmers receive the market price.
The Fairtrade Premium goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions. Coffee farmers spend at least 25% of the Fairtrade Premium to enhance productivity and quality. Over the last three years, Fairtrade-certified coffee products have won 28 Great Taste Awards.
In the UK, Fairtrade coffee accounts for nearly 25% of total coffee sales – and the appetite for fairly traded coffee is steadily growing.
When you choose Fairtrade coffee, not only can farmers build a better quality of life for their families and communities, but you are also making an investment in the overall quality of your coffee beans.
Despite the positivity encompassing the movement, it’s work has not come without limitations. One of the most impactful repercussions of Fairtrade is the high price of coffee. Subsequently impacting both the roaster and ultimately, you – the consumer.
This price shift decreases farmers’ desire to sell their high-quality coffee at the Fair Trade price. Many co-ops choose to default on the Fairtrade contracts with the aim to sell their quality coffee to the open market. Defaulting contracts is seriously compounded by the perceptions of quality. Some roasters voice concerns over the quality of Fairtrade coffee and how it stacks up against direct trade, for instance.
Reaching the poorest of the poor within the farming communities has always been an issue for the Fairtrade movement, specifically migrant workers. Most small farms, including those selling Fair Trade coffee, employ migrant laborers during the harvesting period. Overall yields are low on a small farm, and they are typically family run. The issues surrounding the welfare of the migrant laborer are not as relevant here. However, the benefits of Fairtrade do struggle to reach migrant laborers in medium to large farms.
Consumers have a right to know how their investment in Fairtrade coffee is making a difference, the responsibility predominantly lies with us – the roaster. Coffee is the life blood of the developing nations. Its paramount consumers know how their investment creates a socially and environmentally sustainable future within the communities of these nations. It’s our responsibility, as roasters, to diligently source coffee to ensure farmers are paid fairly and that our customers trust the quality in our cup.
Ethically Sourced. Welsh Roasted.
Community, connection, coffee.