After being part of this industry for more than 20 years, one comes to understand more and more the importance of making a difference for the communities involved in coffee production and of taking responsibility for sustainability and properly caring for the Earth. Even as this realization and urge to make a difference grows, answering how you make that difference often leads to murky waters of uncertainty. It becomes more and more difficult as there are many good coffee people truly working on the cutting edge of coffee business and culture. From the myriad of possible concerns, where do we start? Most of us are making a difference by roasting with more technology that will yield smoother coffees or by brewing with more and more attention to the chemical changes in coffee. The home roasting movement is growing tremendously, and the brains behind that arena are going to be coming out with really cool stuff. These advances in attention to detail help to raise awareness about the complexity of the coffee producing process and some of the issues it involved.
We want to tell your readers of a new frontier in direct trade: the seedling program. We have signed a contract with the Ntenefor Union a tribe in Cameroon. They are going to be selling and caring for coffee plants that belong to roasters in the United States. By selling individual plants, or acres of plants, the roaster becomes more involved in the growing and processing of the coffee. This increased involvement provides a deeper understanding of what contributes to quality coffee and as well as what are some of the issues that farmers encounter along the way. This is a unique way to share the load of how are we going to secure supply in the future by partnering with the people who will make that a reality. The whole idea is not to see direct trade as a make-me-and-my-customers-feel-good-by-purchasing-a-bag-of-coffee-with-a-logo but to make it a real action without the unnecessary hype and gimmicks. Through this program, you will see and meet the people who get their hands dirty with the tending of our plants. Once a year, we will get the results of that crop, and throughout the year, we will be paying for the upkeep of our plants. More Than Fair representatives in Cameroon will supervise and graphically document all the processes for tending to our coffee from seed to shipment. This will also grant us a say in how the coffee is processed. I believe that this empowerment to the farmers of this Cameroon tribe (union) will ease fears about the international price of coffee ruining they way they take care of there families. Additionally, we can rest assured that we get what we pay for and that the quality of the coffee is up to our standards. We have planted several Arabica varietals including Geisha under supervision of our own agronomist. We would like to invite others in the coffee community to join our efforts to form true partnerships with the famers who work so hard to give the coffee we love to enjoy.
Who Benefits From This Project?
We benefit directly several Trival unions in Cameroon as the people that will care for the cofee and ourselves as roasters that will sell it to our customers.