Fairtrade Fortnight: Cafédirect
Not only has Cafédirect been making great coffee since 1989, it was the first producer to bring Fairtrade certified coffee to the UK! That year an international coffee agreement (which fixed global prices according to the cost of production) had collapsed, and middlemen swooped in to buy the coffee at reduced prices leaving millions of smallholder farmers around the world in jeopardy as they were forced to accept the offers.
Cafédirect was created when three coffee growing communities from Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico each shipped a single container of coffee to the UK, loaned on trust – the beans were then roasted and sold in church halls, charity shops and at local events. This was three years before the Fairtrade mark existed, and Cafédirect became the first coffee brand in the UK to carry it.
The company has grown into an ethical hot drinks brand since then, and it is the relationship with producers that is at the very heart. Tea, coffee and cocoa are bought directly from small farmers – most of whom own shares in the company – so producers have an active role as members of Cafédirect, wanting what is best for the company so always selling their highest quality products. Cafédirect visits producers every year to keep the relationship strong and see how farmers are getting on, organising cupping sessions to test the quality of their products while also holding regular Producer update meetings to share insights about the hot drinks markets and get updates on crops and harvests. Cafédirect really cares about its suppliers and is always looking for ways to play a more relevant role in the lives of farmers to improve their quality of life.
Cafédirect works with 40 producer organisations in 14 countries, sourcing coffee from Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda; tea from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Sri Lanka; and cocoa from the Dominican Republic and São Tomé.