What is Direct Trade Coffee?
Direct Trade Coffee is an exciting and important concept that describes the relationship that coffee roasters have with coffee farmers and their farms. If a coffee roaster offers Direct Trade Coffee beans it means they buy the raw beans 'directly' from the owners of the farm. They essentially cut out the middlemen and do not buy their beans through organizations that provide strict and expensive coffee certifications like Fair Trade Coffee and Bird Friendly Coffee. This relationship is said to be equally beneficial to both the coffee roaster and coffee bean producer or coffee cooperative. It provides visibility to the coffee buyer into the growing process which builds trust and therefore loyalty/regular buyers. It also ensures that the coffee farmers are getting the full profit of the coffee sale, versus getting paid a very small percentage from the coffee importers, or corporation buying their beans.
Why is Direct Trade Coffee Important?
In a world where consumers buy hundreds of products every year without having any idea where they come from, nevermind who they come from, it's important that Direct Trade coffee exists. With Direct Trade Coffee, consumers know exactly where the coffee they are drinking comes from and because of that they know exactly how it is grown and processed. When you buy coffee beans from a Direct Trade Coffee plantation, you are supporting the grower who has worked incredibly hard to produce the highest quality coffee bean for you.
Why is it called Direct Trade coffee?
With labels like Fair Trade, Organic, Sustainable, and Shade-grown floating around, do we really need to add the term Direct Trade to describe the coffee we buy and sell? At Poverty Bay Coffee Company we think the answer is a resounding YES! The reason is simple; these terms all require either a leap of faith on the part of consumers (or a third party that is paid to attempt to give the consumer the peace of mind), that the coffee what they are drinking is doing more good than harm. It's called Direct Trade because it's literally a direct trade with the coffee farmers.
How do you know your coffee beans are Direct Trade?
Good question. The requirements to say that you roast Direct Trade coffee beans do not exist in the same way that they do for Fair Trade coffee which is highly regulated and an expensive process for the coffee producers. Instead, there are some loose standards that they abide by and other inspections they perform. One is an environmental inspection, which means that they are evaluated on their use of herbicides and pesticides, how they disposal of wastewater, and what steps they are actively taking to protect the rainforest around them. Another standard is around the wages that the coffee farmers pay their employees, they need to be fair but there is a lot of flexibility on this standard because majority of the Direct Trade coffee farmers are actually the owners who work to grow and pick the beans themselves.
Since the Direct Trade farmers earn the entire purchase amount the likelihood of them making a better wage is higher. Our Poverty Bay team uses a special coffee tracking system that is provided to us by our coffee importers, San Cristobal. Every single coffee bean that we roast and serve to our customers can be tracked via barcode to an exact batch of coffee from the coffee farm - that is Direct Trade Coffee. The best way for a coffee roaster or importer to find out if about the process and standards that which their coffee suppliers keep is to go visit them in person.