Washington state roaster/retailer Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. has put laid out a revamped green coffee sourcing plan for 2018 called Fair For All. With a focus on maximum price transparency and the sustainable economic and social wellbeing of coffee farm owners as well as hired laborers, it is arguably the coffee industry’s most progressive direct trade scheme to date.
Olympia announced the 2018 sourcing goals in conjunction with the company’s 2017 transparency report, which shows each coffee the company purchased throughout the year, along with the price paid to the producer, as well as the FOB (free on board) price, the FOT (free on truck) price, the volume purchased, and the names of the facilitating importers and exporters.
For 2018, the company says it plans to guarantee a remarkable FOB price of $3.50 per pound, which is more than double the current minimum price for Fair Trade Organic certified coffees, and nearly three times the current commodities market price for green coffees.
An announcement from Olympia Owner Oliver Stormshak regarding the Fair For All program outlined the importance and the limitations of the third-party Fair Trade certification system, as well as those of the subsequent “direct trade” movement, which has been hugely influential in creating sustainable relationships in specific cases, yet is difficult to define or measure since each direct trade scheme is the creation of individual companies, without agreed-upon terms, definitions or goals.
What Olympia is proposing is essentially its own advanced, self-enforced direct trade scheme — one that moves well beyond the sourcing efforts or resources of most small specialty roasting companies today.
In addition to the $3.50 FOB minimum, the company intends to enact the following in 2018:
- Visit each farm or producer group from which it plans to source coffee at least once per year to provide feedback for improved opportunity for growth.
- Set coffee prices directly with the farmer, to ensure transparency.
- Work only with farmers who provide safe working conditions — free of unnecessary danger, oppression or violence — and with access to clean water and healthy foods.
- Guarantee a sustainable minimum wage to all laborers involved the production of our coffee (pickers, processors, and farm workers), set seasonally with the farm owner or cooperative board.
That last bit is hugely important, as seasonal laborers have traditionally been the coffee industry’s most neglected population. To our knowledge, no other coffee company has pledged to guarantee a sustainable minimum wage that extends to every last farmworker that touches the coffee.
“Simply put, no Direct Trade system has ever ensured a minimum wage or safe working conditions for coffee pickers, processors, or other laborers within the farm itself,” wrote Stormshak. “So, in 2018 we are leading our industry by ensuring that our coffee is Fair for All. We want to provide a higher quality of life for every individual in the story, including every part of the supply chain. We seek to be pioneers in this effort, setting an example we hope that many companies will follow.”
Oh, by the way, all the coffee will be good. Said Stormshak, “We will purchase coffees with quality standards of 85 points or higher according to SCA cupping standards.”