Article - Fairtrade and the coffee industry

Fairtrade and the coffee industry

The increased awareness and interest in the provenance and growing of coffee is good for the industry and good for consumers – in a world where Farmers Markets have come back to be regular weekend fixtures it is no wonder many keener coffee connoisseurs take great pleasure in being able to recite the name of the origin, microlot or cooperative from which the Long Black they are consuming originated. This might be good for consumers, and it is sure to be beneficial to roasters and cafes that understand and adapt their businesses to capitalise on such consumer expectations, but is all of this really good for the growers?

The global coffee industry presents a complicated and fascinating case study into a vast array of people, stakeholders & companies within both the natural and built environment. In countries such as New Zealand and many other developed nations we obsess over ‘the perfect cup’ and those both in and on the fringes of the coffee industry look to out-play each other with new iterations of coffee brew methods, single origin profiles and café interiors that champion the bespoke and aim to give the consumer a more holistic coffee experience. This is commonly referred to in the industry as “the third wave of coffee”, whereby the production, harvesting, processing, roasting and brewing of coffee has taken on a more artisanal tangent with an increased focus on the provenance of the bean and its inherent flavor nuances.

While all of this happens coffee growers in many developing nations around the world continue to face the kind of challenges that many people would just put in the ‘too hard’ basket – lack of infrastructure including poor roading or no roads at all, difficult working conditions and poverty that is common among millions of small scale farmers who work tirelessly to grow and harvest the very coffee you enjoy every day. You’ve likely heard about these challenges, thinking that from the safe haven of New Zealand there isn’t a lot you can do.

You could jump on a plane, as I did recently, and visit the coffee farmers and their cooperatives to see and appreciate first-hand just how difficult life is at origin. But that’s not a practical solution, so one of the best things you can do is support Fairtrade accredited and certified brands – this way you are guaranteed that the coffee you buy has been independently certified to ensure that the growers have received a Fairtrade Organic premium over and above the market price. A line drawing of Mike Murphy of Kokako New Zealand

Our Guest Blogger today is Mike Murphy. Mike is the Managing Director of Auckland based Fairtrade Organic Coffee company Kokako. He is passionate about sustainable business, design, quality and ethical business but most of all coffee! Kokako roast certified Fairtrade Organic Coffee which is sold in quality cafes, restaurants and retailers and they also have a flagship café in Grey Lynn. Get more info on Kokako here, or drop by and visit their Coffee Roastery and Cafe at 537 Great North Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland (the old Grey Lynn Post office).

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