Why Blue Smoke Roasts Fair Trade Beans Exclusively
A story below of farmers who are NOT paid a fair price for their beans (which is most of them) and what it means to them and their families:
Let's go right to coffee country. Let's head to the mountains of Guatemala—where they grow some of the best coffee you can drink.
When we descend the corkscrew road into the village of Santa Clara, the sun's already sinking behind a peak, and farmers are shuffling back down the steep slopes after a whole day picking beans. Some lead pack horses, which sag under the weight of burlap bags. They're mangy animals; you can count their ribs. The farmers tie the reins to trees at the edge of the village, and then they unload their harvest at the village warehouse.
But many farmers can't afford a horse. One man's staggering down the dirt path, bending forward at the waist: He's lugging more than 50 pounds of coffee on his own back. But he says that's nothing. "Sometimes [we carry] 100 pounds or more," he says, through my interpreter. "You see that mountain in front of us? When you're picking beans on those slopes, there's no way you could get a horse in there, even if you had one. So you have to carry the coffee for more than an hour. You come here sweating, really sweating."
Coffee Farmers and Families Living in Proverty:
You don't have to be an economist to see that growing non-fair trade coffee here doesn't buy much of a life.
Picture the farmers' homes on the hillsides: They're shacks. The floors are bare dirt. There's no running water or electricity. The outside walls are thin wooden planks—and it gets cold here up in the mountains.
Buying Fair Trade coffee means these farmers can afford for their kids to go to school rather than work on the coffee farm.
Investment Speculators Benefit from Non-Fair Trade Coffee:
The world's coffee prices go up and down, depending partly on supply and demand and speculation by international investors. But these farmers are stuck in poverty. They sell their beans to local businessmen whom they derisively call "coyotes," and the coyotes pay them less than 50 cents per pound. At that price, the farmers can barely make a few hundred dollars a year. "To produce coffee, it's expensive," one farmer says. "It's a lot of work, and sometimes we can't even cover our costs."
PLEASE BUY FAIR TRADE COFFEE
PS: AND I'M HONORED IF YOU CHOOSE BLUE SMOKE