Monday, October 29, 2007

Peace Coffee - Fair All The Way Around

There has been talk for a while now that coffee farmers are treated unfairly and coffee crops are stretched to the limits to meet the worlds growing demand for the tasty bean. Farmers barely survive on what they are paid for the raw beans while the consumer is dishing out $4.00 or more for one Venti Mocha Latte at the local Starbucks.

The profit is lost somewhere in between and never seems trickle down to the farmer who works so hard to give us that little boost. Some of the problem stems from complicated politics in South American countries. Others say that much could be solved if buyers and roasters adhered to and signed Fair Trade Agreements with the individual farmers and co-op owners.

Peace Coffee takes it one step further and forms lasting relationships with the farmers and the communities where the beans are grown. Buying Peace Coffee means that the co-op farmers have money to invest in their local schools and clinics. They build futbol (soccer) fields for their
children to play on. You make an investment in their lives and in turn they grow superior organic coffee.

Peace Coffee is located in Minnesota where they roast, pack and distribute the coffee beans all under one eco-friendly roof in Minneapolis. They deliver locally using bicycles and to the outlying areas of the Twin Cities with the use of Bio-diesel trucks. They are heavily involved in projects that promote sustainability and the concepts of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, their parent organization. The IATP promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, science and technology, and advocacy.

Peace Coffee's website is interesting reading. They extensively profile all the countries and growers that they work with. They also post copies of each Fair Trade Agreement they work under. They are transparent about their business practices and it looks like a good model for other companies to follow when dealing internationally. I enjoyed reading the stories about families from Ethiopia, Peru, and Guatemala. It certainly puts a personal spin on something I take for granted.

Peace Coffee is sold at stores around the country or can be ordered online. It's no more expensive than Starbucks or even the gourmet brands in the grocery store. I wouldn't mind paying 8 to 9 dollars a pound for the assurance that more of my money is making it into the farmer's hand.

They recently launched a variety called Sow The Seeds. 2 $ from every pound goes towards providing Flood Relief to sustainable and organic farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin who've been hit by serious floods this year.

To me, Peace Coffee is a responsible way to get my morning pick-me-up and it save me a trip in the car to stand in line with all the other sleepy heads at my local coffee shop. Check them out.

6 comments:

Mr. Grudge said...

I am always encouraged when I read about socially responsible companies who have clear goals in creating profit for those who are directly involved in growing/manufacturing/collecting the products we all use. Typically, these are the folks most likely to be exploited and abused. One positive side effect of Peace Coffee's actions in forming permanent, profitable relationships with growers is that farmers will be less likely to grow cocoa plants, which is more than likely used in the making of cocaine. Also, heir "green" approach to distribuing their product should be a model to other companies as well.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Mr. Grudge,

I felt the same way. I think I'll buy Christmas gifts from them for the coffee lovers in my life..and there are a few.

Thanks,
Lisa

JD "The Uneasy Supplicant" said...

To quote, "To me, Peace Coffee is a responsible way to get my morning pick-me-up and it saves me a trip in the car to stand in line with all the other sleepy heads at my local coffee shop."
You've sold me on the idea. I'm getting tired of having to wait for a cup of coffee that has a 50/50 chance of being any good anyways. Thanks for the post.

Lisa McGlaun said...

JD,

If you look at their website there are so many good choices of blends. They all sound good, they'll come right to my door and I know that the farmers are not exploited.

That's a win-win situation, I'd say.

Best Wishes,
Lisa

Anonymous said...

Starbucks has the same practices, and because they are so huge they are making an even bigger impact. Peace Coffee sounds great, but you shouldn't knock others who have been modeling these same ideas for years.

Lisa McGlaun said...

Anon,

If you'd like, post a link to the contributions that Starbucks makes to the coffee bean growers. I'll be happy to post an addendum to the article.

Thanks for your input.

Sincerely,
Lisa