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The idea of ethical coffee sourcing is not always something you can point at?

Nov 30, 21 | Adrian Constantin

The other day, a client asked us why there aren't many fair-trade certified coffees on our site. We were curious about the question, so we dug and searched for an answer. Why is it that specialty coffee doesn’t always have fancy certifications?

Here’s what we’ve learned.

In the coffee sector there are over 300 cooperatives, which make it possible for thousands of small farmers who don’t produce enough volume on their own to band together in order access larger markets and more competitive rates.

The cooperative movement is the backbone of fair-trade and without these organizations, many would have nowhere to turn when faced with oppression. They ensure farmers receive a minimum price for their hard work – even if world market prices fall below sustainable levels.

Fair trade organizations have a long tradition of doing good, but it is not entirely clear whether coffee retailers in developed countries are benefiting more than producers in underdeveloped countries. And, whether the fair-trade movement is as effective as it promises to be.

We had the opportunity to try a single-origin coffee from Kenya. It comes from 400 small farms that individually produce under 30kg of beans per year, but together make up this high-quality cooperative that produces really special coffee. We’re not sure if we would have ever experienced this awesomeness, had it not been for the Mahiga Factory cooperative. We are as such grateful to the local roaster that found them.

In our quest to answer our clients question, we were excited to find that our clients' expectations of specialty coffees ran deeper than just fair trade. They wanted all coffee, no matter the price or origin, to be sustainable and ethical sourcing-friendly! Needless to say we are happy these folks care so much about what they consume.

We've been loving learning about different farms, their heritage and the varieties of coffee that are available in Edmonton. In fact, some of our favorites are single-farm produced, which also means they’re not fair trade! Ethical sourcing can sometimes be difficult to spot.

A question we’ve been asking is whether single-farm coffee might just have the potential to be better? 🤔

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