Support Coffee Growing for Fair Trade
Support Coffee Growing for Fair Trade e
The Co-op Connection “Nourishing Local Traditions”
By Nina Westaway
Café Ético is an organization operating out of a small outlet in Vancouver. Thanks to the efforts of a volunteer we are able to bring Café Ético’s coffee to the Monashee Community Co-op in Lumby. What makes these coffees so special is that they are organic, shade grown and produced by small community growers of Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico and Cuba under Fair Trade agreements. Fair Trade importation cuts out the middleman, keeps coffee prices at an established base line—protecting against price swings of the global market and high interest loans—and works with farmer co-operatives to grow the best coffee possible.
Started by CoDevelopment Canada in 1996, Café Ético goes beyond fair trade in supporting educational, health, environmental and gender equity projects in Latin America. The growers are paid 20% beyond standard Fair Trade agreements. CoDevelopment, a BC-based non-profit gives back 100% of their profits to support human rights in Latin America.
CoDev’s support for coffee growers means that they are getting the full benefit of their labour, cutting out all the middlemen:
While fair trade is important, direct trade is just as essential to ensuring that farmers get a fair deal.
Most small-scale coffee farmers don’t have access to the overseas market. Instead, they sell to the middlemen, often called ‘coyotes’ in Latin America, who in turn sell to exporters, who in turn sell to importers, who sell to roasters, who sell to grocery stores, who sell to us. By the time everyone has taken their piece of the profit, there’s very little left for the actual coffee farmer. Even if the world market prices is reasonably high, small scale farmers only get a fraction of the price.
Café Ético works in close collaboration with its two major partners, The Pancasán Association of Coffee Producers (ACOPAN) of the Matagalpa region of Northern Nicaragua and The Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) in Guatemala. The Nicaraguan farmers are working to combat climate change and coffee rust by experimenting with new varieties of coffee.
Monashee Community Co-op has enough varieties from Café Ético to satisfy most tastes. I love decaf coffee beans from Chiapas, Mexico. They are processed by the Swiss Water Method which has a plant in Burnaby, BC; the process is 99.7% caffeine-free and uses water as a solvent, thus being doubly organic.
It is wonderful to support agriculture that makes a positive difference to the overall well-being of their communities through grass roots political change. Yes, drinking quality coffee is an act of solidarity of Canadians with their Latin American partners.