So Much More Than Fair

So Much More Than Fair

One of the best questions we regularly get at Coffea is, "Why don't you guys sell Fair Trade coffee?"

It's pretty simple: we're not against Fair Trade as an organization, but there are opportunities today to connect directly with the farmer, or companies that operate at a more locally empowering level.  

Here's a quick breakdown of one of the companies we recently partnered with, Catracha Coffee Co. 

  • Founded and operated by Mayra Orellana-Powell and her husband Lowell, Mayra grew up in a farming family in Honduras.  She moved to the US and spent time working with Royal Coffee Imports, but eventually realized she wanted to come home and make Honduran coffee and farming life better.
    • Catracha Coffee’s goal is "...to increase the number of capacity building opportunities until every producer in Santa Elena has an opportunity to produce great coffee and access the specialty coffee market."
    • Farmers who work through Catracha average double the earnings that Fair Trade could offer them.
    • Catracha also pays the farmer twice: once at a base-level for each pound of coffee at the beginning of the year (their harvest season) and again in July once the coffee is sold on the specialty market.  
    • The program offers monthly meetings and seminars to improve plant nutrition, health, yield, and optimizing processing of coffees to make more money per plant at the specialty-market level.  
    • I just finished emailing with Orellana-Powell with a few questions about Edmundo Sanches (the farmer who runs Finca El Mango) and her husband Lowell drove out to touch base with Edmundo and send us some pictures to share with people who buy Edmundo's crop.  Orellana-Powell also strongly encouraged me to come on down and visit Catracha and Edmundo because they just started harvesting what will eventually be next season's crop of Finca El Mango.   

There are so many reasons we love Orellana-Powell's program: It empowers the people of Santa Elena to improve and optimize their livelihood.  She is ultra-connecting and inviting of visitors to close the gap between coffee drinkers and coffee farmers.  This whole program is founded and ran by a woman from Santa Elena.  It builds community while encouraging pride and quality in product.  

While Fair Trade has a valid place in getting coffee-farming regions operational, the future of coffee farming and industry is in roasters and cafes taking initiative to connect with community organizers, entrepreneurs, and leaders like Mayra Orellana-Powell.  

Sustained, reliable partnerships between locally organized and run groups like Catracha Coffee Co. ensure specific and appropriate education for their climate, terroir, and economy so that this Honduran community can thrive.

In Ethiopia, where it's far more difficult to connect with specific farmers, we partner with METAD because of their transparency and proven record of intensely community-centric involvement through education, sustainable and progressive wages, and industry-improving quality.  

We work with these kinds of ethical, quality-driven organizations (METAD and Catracha Coffee Co.) because they have found sustainably edifying practices that pay farmers far above what Fair Trade can.  When possible, we work with farmers directly, like Fernando Diaz (if you've had a latte or shot of Episode espresso or tasted the Finca Idolia, you've enjoyed his crop).  

We encourage you to ask your barista next time you stop in about what your buying because there's a shocking amount of effort, energy, and passion behind that coffee you're buying, and we're proud to be a part of a chain that starts with community engagement and development in Santa Elena, or Yukro.  We know the cost is a little more than Fair Trade, but we also know it's going to good use.