IT STARTS WITH THE FARMERS: We first got into Fair Trade based on our respect and admiration for the farmers of the Mut Vitz cooperative (the first cooperative Larry visited). This led to Larry's Beans™ becoming a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, the first and still the only cooperative of independent coffee roasters in the U.S. importing coffee directly from Fair Trade cooperatives.
In essence, the world commodity market is at the core of an adversarial system that is lopsided in favor whoever is largest.
On one side, are corporations, importers and commodity traders with access to every possible set of data, from future pricing models to marketplace conditions.
On the other side are small farmers (over 70% of the world's specialty coffee comes from small family farms â there are 25 million small family farmers growing coffee) often living in remote mountainous regions (where the best coffee is grown) without access to accurate information about how much their coffee is actually worth on the market. The constant pressure to lower prices pushes farmers to make ever-increasing compromises to their traditional farming practices, using dangerous pesticides, chemical fertilizers and cutting down forest canopies.
It takes 40,000 lbs of coffee to fill a shipping container for export. A small family farm can only grow a fraction of that. And to get it to market, you need a truck, another asset beyond the reach of a small coffee farmer.
It's a winner-takes-most system. And the winner is rarely, if ever, the farmer.
We pay a minimum of $0.09/lb over and above the international Fair Trade price of all our coffees.