Direct Trade and why it matters…

Posted on Posted in Coffee, Direct Trade, Origin stories

We’re proud of the fact we buy our coffee directly from the farmers. For us, it’s the right thing to do, and that’s why we’re now highlighting it right there on our coffee bags.

Through Direct Trade we’re involved in the journey of our coffees from harvest to home. Here’s a nifty infographic to give you an idea of how that differs from the way so many other coffee companies do it. In a nutshell, we’re talking fewer steps in the process:


Why is Direct Trade so important to us?

It means building lasting relationships with the farmers who grow the coffee we sell, rather than some far-removed middle man. It means paying those farmers a fair price that reflects their hard work and expertise. The coffee we buy is already some of the best in the world, but Direct Trade means we can help the farmers we work with to make the quality of their coffee even better (more on that below).

When it comes to the traditional commodity coffee supply chain, the system is broken. The cost of producing coffee for farmers is often more than they get paid, meaning they make a loss on most of their harvests. The problem resides in that they own the farms, so they’re trapped in an industry that leaves them financially vulnerable. A lot are struggling with fluctuating commodity prices and difficult weather conditions due to climate change, so we’re glad to be making a stand against the status quo.

Why should Direct Trade matter to you?

Simply? Better coffee. Plus the feel-good bonus of knowing your money is doing something worthwhile. But also, by helping the farmers we work with and building good relationships with them, it means your favourite coffees will return to the Pact Coffee Menu with each harvest.

Chapada Direct Trade-1277

What does ‘a fair price’ mean?

An important part of our Direct Trade promise is guaranteeing to pay at least 25% more than the Fairtrade rate for coffee beans. This isn’t part of some charitable mission or marketing gimmick, it’s simply a fair reflection of what speciality quality is worth on an open market.

Direct Trade in action…

Our Head of Coffee, Will Corby (thecaffienekid) heads out to origin to bring you some of the finest coffees on the planet. He’s an expert in his field and – since he’s a pretty nice guy – he has great relationships with the farmers we work with. It almost goes without saying, but he loves his job:

“I’m really proud of the impact we’re having at origin. It’s like nothing anyone else is doing. It’s hard to convey how much difference we’re making – and I’m not really an emotional guy – but when you’re out there seeing the difference to people’s lives and tasting the difference in their coffees, it’s pretty moving.”

Chapada Direct Trade-4017

A case study in Brazil:

Back in 2014 Will took a coffee hunting trip to Brazil and came across Fazenda Chapada, a farm run by Marcus Carvalho. Will fell in love with the coffee and when he sat down to make a deal with Marcus. The amount Marcus wanted for his coffee was higher than the Fairtrade rate at that time, but lower than the amount we’ve promised to pay all our farmers (25% more than the Fairtrade price).

Long story short, we were able to help Marcus use the extra money we paid him to invest in a cherry sorter, which separates ripe, over-ripe and under-ripe cherries. Since putting the sorter to work, Marcus has seen the cupping score of his speciality coffee (ie. the ripe cherries) jump up by two points, which is 10% better on the speciality scale.

Those of you in the know will understand that’s an incredible feat. For those of you who aren’t into speciality coffee cupping scales, that means Marcus is now able to charge more to the other buyers of his coffee, who are more than happy to do so for the improved quality.

Chapada Direct Trade-1381

Find out more about Marcus here

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Through Direct trade, and Will’s relationships with farmers all over the world, we’re now helping to change the way the coffee industry works. And we’re improving the lives of the individuals who work within the industry while we’re at it. It’s something we’re proud of and as someone who buys Pact Coffee, it’s something you’re helping out with too. So thank you.

And if this is something you’re interested in then keep an eye out for more Direct Trade in action stories coming soon…



2 thoughts on “Direct Trade and why it matters…

  1. Fantastic post, I think it’s great that you’re highlighting the importance of direct trade and I love your use of the infographic. I couldn’t agree more about what you say in terms of paying a fair price that reflects the farmer’s hard work and expertise. It’s great to hear that you pay at least 25% more than the Fairtrade rate for coffee beans. If companies really want to make a difference in the developing world (which they should) then this is 100% the way to do it: by going above and beyond fair trade and getting involved with farmers directly.

    1. Thanks so much for the feedback, Alex! It’s great to hear that you support what we’re trying to do here. It’s an important part of our company values that we always pay more for good coffee, invest in quality and use our influence to make our farmers’ lives better, not worse. We’re hoping to have more posts like this going forward to show how we’re going about doing this too!

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