Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

    Hi all,

    There are many different organisations out there in the coffee world advocating responsability in coffee production ( Fair Trade, Rainforest alliance, etc). The question I have is........do coffee drinkers really care? Do they purchace ethically produced coffee over regular coffee? Do they go out of their way to purchase it?

    What are your thoughts my fellow Coffee Snobs?

  • #2
    Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

    I think regular consumers care. Peoples social conscience means they want to ensure the underdog (the farmer) doesnt get screwes. But the one major failing I see in schemes such as Fair Trade and the like is the lack of focus on quality of product.

    In my view [and IIRC quite a bit has been written on this by others] I would rather support farmers who produce good quality beans by paying a higher overall price for the coffee, rather than support schemes that provide a slightly better income for the farmer without the same focus on quality.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

      There has been several recent threads about FT, RA etc. A couple of them have become a little off track as people tend to believe the marketing spin and hype behind them instead of the actual results on the ground in the source countries. FT and RA do not in anyway guarantee coffee tastes good or that a better price is paid to the farmer but the marketing has appeal to the masses and makes them feel better about drinking it generally from the chain stores  : .

      On top of these 2 there is an increasing amount of "direct trade" that is where the relationship is between the roaster and the grower or maybe co-op paying a higher price than would otherwise result due to the various middlemen in the way. Not a lot by world volume yet but growing.

      As well as this there is programs like Coffeekids, Bikes Rawanda (cargo bike project) and lots of others. A lot of these programs are run more lean on admin and funded by donations from the coffee industry and individuals.

      Then there is Andys own CS based Faircrack, run on the vapours of he smell of an oily rag and sponsored by us lot  [smiley=thumbup.gif]

      As to ethical coffee you only need to look at a recent case of a chocolate giant misusing the logos to realise that all that is written on the packet isnt always so.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

        Originally posted by 7B646360697F6463786D60637A690C0 link=1292215382/0#0 date=1292215382
        The question I have is........do coffee drinkers really care? Do they purchace ethically produced coffee over regular coffee? Do they go out of their way to purchase it?
        Yes and no. Depends on the market.

        Some coffee drinkers dont care. Others will not touch a coffee unless it is Fairtrade organic. I dont know if that fits your description of "ethical".
        Now they are taking the term "moral" in promoting FT

        Some may even avoid on quality reasons.

        The sad part is some people dont want to find out the details, they just "...want a label or sticker to know what is OK" - (something said to my wife).

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

          Yeah, I have an opinion on this (no surprise there).

          Fairtrade sucks.  

          Oxfam shops last year in Australia lost $1,500,000.  So in effect every single sale at those 23 shops went directly to Westfield or who ever the landlord was along with an additional $1,500,000 from direct donations and fundraising.... not one cent went to the farmer.

          When I asked them directly they told me (with a pile of spin) it was due to the GFC (Global Financial Crisis).   SHEEZE!

          Originally posted by 7F6067646D7B60677C6964677E6D080 link=1292215382/0#0 date=1292215382
          The question I have is........do coffee drinkers really care?
          I drink coffee and I care.  I would guess most CSrs do to.

          To give the whole ethical coffee some perspective, I was told last year by a one of the very large German brokers that the world "ethical label" coffee sales had doubled in the previous two years and was now sitting at just under 4%.

          It is and will remain little more than a marketing device for most players and a tiny part of the world coffee scene is making any difference to the farmers lives.  Extrapolate 4% of sales to just 4% of the farmers seeing a benefit... the actual figure would be sadly even less.  

          Originally posted by 6A6D69666E647161666F080 link=1292215382/2#2 date=1292218450
          there is an increasing amount of "direct trade"
          Beware.  Direct trade can also translate to "we directly screwed the farmer".  There are countries that direct trade is illegal now because coffee buyers were locking-in future crops at low prices and sinking the poor farmer even though other buyers were willing to pay more for the same beans.  

          Most "direct trade" is done at a small margin over the New York Coffee Index and while that does mean more money for the farmer it is still no where near what it should / could be.

          Most of the direct trade that I have researched translated to "we screwed the farmer a little less than the last guy"

          Originally posted by 6A6D69666E647161666F080 link=1292215382/2#2 date=1292218450
          programs like Coffeekids
          ...with 30% taken off the top of all income!  Bill started out with a good idea and they still do some great work but 30% in overheads is just too much in my book.  They are honest enough to share their annual reports via the web which is nice.

          Originally posted by 6A6D69666E647161666F080 link=1292215382/2#2 date=1292218450
          Bikes Rawanda
          ...who promised but never gave me their costings and Ive never seen an annual report.  Who knows how much hits the ground?  What seemed like a great project on the surface made me very uncomfortable when I spoke with them last year. (happy to stand corrected though)

          That said, I still think you should support coffee that is traded fairly but research your chosen ethical certification to see what percentage actually hits the ground, how much of it is wasted in marketing material and fat-cat wages.  Try and find an annual report and look past the glossy photos to the real outgoing numbers.

          I have a bias but think that FairCrack is still the fairest trade of all.  We are a bit slower at getting the projects on the ground but we still do it with zero overheads and have real, tangible impact.

          I also think that the auction process is the right way forward for the farmer.  A farmer that is producing great coffee will earn way more for it at open auction than they ever will selling it to a certification body or local co-op.

          For example, the Tanzanian Rononi we bought through a TZ broker at their coffee auction.  We bought it at the highest bid and then after auction we paid an additional US$1/kg to go into a community fund.  Even with expensive small volume freight we landed amazing coffee at a reasonable price and the farmers made way more than they had ever before.

          It can be done.

          8-)

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

            And with that excellent response, lock it down and leave it there for peoples to ponder, rather than throw uninformed comment at.

            Nice one Andy.

            Oh, and delete this as well.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

              Thanks Chris.

              tis a good thought but at the end of the day its just an "Andy rant", my opinion and my findings while trying to find the whole truth between the glossy sales hype that charities have become.

              Others can debunk me if they like.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

                Originally posted by 59767C61180 link=1292215382/6#6 date=1292232504
                its just an "Andy rant",
                I could listen to an "Andy rant" like that every day of the week.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

                  nice rant Andy.

                  Yeah theres a lot to be said on all forms of certification that claim ethical. My personal sentiments dont dffer from Andy too much.

                  Something that was brought up the other day while chatting was that there was almost too much emphasis on the consumer being "guilt-free" and less emphasis on the farmer being paid a fair price.

                  I guess with most of these certifications, the one thing they do actually do is make people aware, and actually think what goes into their daily brew and the cost involved.

                  Also, like andy has said, ethical coffee is a small percentage of the total market, but its a start.

                  I drink coffee and I do care )

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

                    That amount of $1,500,000 is rather scary.  Where did the figures come from?

                    I was considering Oxfam as a possible charity to support, but will probably stick with deworm the world (no tax deduction but huge bang for the buck) or medecins sans frontieres to avoid donating large portions to the likes of westfield.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

                      Originally posted by 28202E26243E3E222E264D0 link=1292215382/9#9 date=1292280730
                      That amount of $1,500,000 is rather scary.Where did the figures come from?
                      I didnt make them up, they come from the their (7mb download) annual report which is available on their webpage. Another example of an annual report that the marketing spin doctors fudged and the graphics team filled full of colour to make it appear better than it was.

                      The table below shows:

                      2008 sales figures up 20% on the previous year, 2009 sales figures up another 20% yet the projected target was an very unrealistic 50% (who guessed that?)

                      The "net profit" was a LOSS of $900,000 in 2007, they lost another 40% the following year and "only" lost 20% more in 2009 to bring the 3 year total to a LOSS of $3,700,000

                      Instead shutting the shops and spending their money wiser they show a projected (read: rubbish) figure of a $3000 profit in the last table to appease the skim readers.

                      If they made their dodgy projected sales target of $15,500,000 they would have lost closer to $2,000,000 and I guess next year will look pretty close to that.

                      At what point do these charities say "Retail shops continue to be a dumb idea and only the landlords are making a buck"?

                      Oxfam has plenty of people that donate their time and energy to do something good (I love those people), sadly it is also a monster machine that can run off the rails, year in, year out and just hide their bad performance by printing more martketing hype.


                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

                        The figures I last lost some brain cells reading were a few years ago in their annual reports and far more went into marketing and admin than ever went near the ground.

                        Agreed too Andy on the direct trade thing but at least the extra however small or large does get closer to the source. If you expand the ideal of direct trade to include the current Auction system or systems such as CofE some of the trial ones in Africa for the premium beans is a much fairer way to go.

                        Keep ranting

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

                          My understanding of the wholesale coffee market is not so great, but when I thought of direct trade I was thinking it included the coffee auctions.

                          Andy - Your point about the Tanzanian coffee bought at a local auction was exactly my point as to quality. Can you expand on the process involved with this? Do you get to cup before the auction? Or do the brokers do it for you?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

                            Originally posted by 7659534E370 link=1292215382/4#4 date=1292230360
                            I drink coffee and I care.
                            I reckon we have a new tag line for Faircrack!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Does anyone really care about ethical coffee?

                              Thanks for the extra info Andy, I didnt mean to suggest the figures were made up, sorry if it read that way.

                              Just looking at the Table you posted, if I had turnover of 12 million and gross margin of 61%, Id like to think I could make a net profit rather than a loss.

                              It does seem to be a general problem that the bigger a charity gets, the less the incremental benefits are. I will have to download/read the Oxfam annual report in my copious spare time.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X