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Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
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MarkPrince
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Posted Wed Jan 28, 2004, 1:00am
Subject: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships
The Ethical Bean article by Shanna Germain

From the inaugural issue of Roast Magazine, Shanna Germain examines the unique and special ways that some independent roasters take to ensure coffee farmers benefit from the world's love affair with coffee.
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MarkPrince
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Posted Thu Jan 29, 2004, 4:04pm
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

You know what I like most about this article? It's not about the "usual suspects" in the direct relationship world of coffee. By usual suspects, I mean no disrespect, but we always hear about Intelligentsia or Counter Culture, etc and their great efforts to set up DRs with farmers.

This article introduces many CoffeeGeeks to other roasters and roaster retailers who are involved in direct relationships. Gives me yet more names to dole out when I get that email asking "so, what ethical coffee roasters should I buy from"... a type of email that I get more often these days (and I'm thankful to get them).

Mark

 
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treebeans
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Posted Sun Feb 1, 2004, 6:51am
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

I appreciate the article encouraging others of us to consider how our choices impact producers and their families (choices including but not exclusive to coffee).  It's well worth considering what's behind the bag-o-beans sitting on the counter and the connectivity that it represents with the producer's efforts.  

It's easy to agree that being able to help people help themselves by building their family enterprise and also providing educational resources for kids is important.  With the 'helping partner' being then able to step away and encourage self sufficiency, the effort is truly constructive.      
thanks for the article
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MyronJ
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Posted Sun Feb 1, 2004, 2:49pm
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

I too appreciated the article and the specific examples it gave the brought the story to life.
Thanks fo the links as well. It seems that African and Indonesian farmers don't have the same amount of organizations out there to help. It is a pity.
best, myron
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MarkPrince
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Posted Sun Feb 1, 2004, 10:16pm
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

MyronJ Said:

I too appreciated the article and the specific examples it gave the brought the story to life.
Thanks fo the links as well. It seems that African and Indonesian farmers don't have the same amount of organizations out there to help. It is a pity.
best, myron

Posted February 1, 2004 link

I totally agree Myron, but things are slowly changing too in Africa.

The big problem with direct relationships and Africa and Indonesia is distance - it's much easier for a roaster to fly down to Guatamala or Nicaragua and foster a relationship than it is for them to fly to Ethiopia or Kenya or Java.

That said, I do know of some specific cases of DR with some Ethiopian farmers, and even more with Indonesia. In fact, Intelligentsia has some DRs with Indonesian and Asian suppliers; Doug Zell recently got back from a trip there.

Cheers

Mark

 
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Karnin
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Posted Mon Feb 9, 2004, 5:41pm
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

I also have noticed the lack of support in Africa, I thought it might also h to do with the language (how many people know Spanish compared to African languages?)  I was considering a Kenyan relationship (when I get  my business rolling) , that where my first Compassion kid is.  
None the less I also appritiated this article, it does bring hope.

 
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brentling
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Posted Wed Feb 11, 2004, 3:18pm
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

It is also good to note that their are more than a couple of brokers out there who are actively involved in "direct relationships" etc which is good for those like me, who can't actually justufy flying to various origins to purchase my green coffee direct!
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Trey
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Posted Wed Feb 11, 2004, 4:35pm
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

There are many hurdles in dealing with Africa, with language and expense definitely playing a roll, but there are just so many...

*The internal economic systems in many African countries impair the kind of role an American company can play.  In Kenya, the weekly auction system makes it nearly impossible to track who even grew the coffee.

*The government control of the coffee industry is different in each country.

*In the Americas, the interest in specialty coffee exists, so there is opportunity to cultivate it further.  In much of Africa, you would be starting almost from ground zero, investing lots of money and years of energy to get the coffee to where it would need to be.  Most of the specialty roasters in the US do not have that kind of $$ to invest.  Companies like Intelligentsia and Counter Culture are small companies and are doing what they can, but coffee is a huge, international, multi-billion dollar industry that has a long way to go.  Keep in mind that coffee is a plant and takes years of subtle change to start to alter the flavor of large amounts of crops.

*Coffee is the main export in many countries of this hemisphere, where it is secondary to other commodities in much of Africa, so there is a lack of dire interest in government, banking...all of the necessary tools to trade on a large scale.

*We have canceled more than one trip to Indonesia because our contacts there informed us it was not safe to be there as an American.  Rwanda, where we are involved in a project funded by USAID, is still recovering from the mass genocide in 1994.  This obviously makes even short-term goals difficult to accomplish.

It's not that dealing with Central Americans is just easier, it's mostly that the systems and support structure are in place that allow us to focus on getting great coffee and we are able to see the results within a year or two.  Hopefully the types brokers, roasters, and importers in Shanna's article, coupled with consumers like that of CoffeeGeek, are helping pave the road to make even bigger changes in the future.
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Karnin
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Posted Fri Feb 20, 2004, 11:15am
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

All of this is true, I am sure, but it is still sad.  It is difficult to justify aid and comprimise quality when quality is the major interest of the industry.  Yet, there are those who care more about the people then the bean, but how can it be done to put equal importance and risk into these two sides (quality and compassion) and still be successful?  The fact that Africa and other places are in so much peril makes them a higher priority than the other "easier" to deal with places.  Yet, the initial point is still quality in a quality oriented industry, and it is just too expensive to train and equip such places for the highest standards of coffee.  But, what if we could?  (I imagine two parties working together, an experienced aid mission type group working with knowledgeable coffee people willing to take the time and effort to teach and prepare the project.)

 
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nemvak
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Posted Thu Jul 29, 2010, 1:07am
Subject: Re: Above and Beyond - Grower Relationships, The Ethical Bean
 

CAn you tell me about teh Defenders of Wildlife deal with the coffee growers?
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