Barista Magazine

DEC 2018 - JAN 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 92 of 107

93 says Kayd of InterAmerican Coffee. Direct, lasting relationships certainly go a long way toward positively impacting many coffee farmers around the world and their communities. However, the unfortunate reality is that this specialty approach reaches only a fraction of the global cof- fee-growing community. Rachel Peterson, co-owner of the Haci- enda La Esmeralda farm in Panama, says "There is no doubt that direct access to international buyers is the solution for many, but so many small (and many times less-educated) farmers just don't have this access." With the C Market being the defacto global system for trading coffee with the undeniably furthest reach, an interesting question to ponder is, "Can we change the system?" Talk to coffee professionals, and you'll fi nd no shortage of opinions on this matter. Samuel Demisse, founder of Keffa Coffee, is in favor of a quota system, in which only a certain amount of coffee from each country reaches the market in order to maintain demand. "It used to be a quota system back in the day and it works very well," Samuel says. "Otherwise, coffee farmers will go out of business." Others recommend an empathetic approach prioritizing social good. At a recent presentation in Colombia, James Hoffmann of Square Mile Coffee Roasters advocated for farmers and buyers forming a new social contract based on sharing risk. "When the C drops so low, it doesn't seem particularly defensible [to pay farmers those prices] if social responsibility is a part of the business," James says. "I think what will bring change is cultural pressure—the more roasters who are seen to be committing to longer-term relationships, or better social contracts, then the more pressure there is on other businesses to do the same." At the end of the day, we live in a competitive, capitalist system, and there exist coffee companies who measure success by their ability to make as much of a profi t as possible, in part by leveraging the C. As a result, though many of the alternative approaches are extremely appealing, we are unlikely to do away with the C any time soon. It seems that perhaps the best path forward is for as many coffee pros as possible involved in the coffee-buying process to purchase farmers' coffee at fair, realistic prices, and to give a broad swath of farmers an opportunity to improve their quality to obtain these prices. "I think we need to take these opportunities when the market is low to make decisions about how we individually do our business in specialty, decide how we can reach out and find produc- ers who have potential to sell at specialty prices, and discover ways to improve coffee quality across the board," says Erin Meister, managing editor of Cafe Imports. "This is a call to action, and the action is beyond simply price: It's about development, trust, investment, engagement, staying relevant, being open-minded, and adjusting the way we do business to stay nimble and to empower producers to be more nimble as well in the global industry." "The income from coffee is the motor that powers our community. Less income from low coffee prices affects everything in the community. People can't send their kids to school or make improvements in their farms." —Javier Dominguez, general manager of Sol y Café cooperative; Cajamarca, Peru d to Samuel says ess." eti ecommend an empathetic approach p a, James Hoff in Col a recent presentation in Col A mers and buye ters a Mile Coffee Roasters a C d "When the C l cont new social cont os farmers thos oes it does "I James says. "I wh re roasters wh , or better businesses LESS BITTER, MORE

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