Monday, 27 May 2013

Can You Really Make A Difference With Your Morning Coffee?

In an ideal world, I prefer to only drink my coffee if it's been fairly traded. 

I do believe that it is important to pay the TRUE value of a good or a service. Even to those that are less-educated and less-connected, living in other parts of the world.

Is it easy to drink fairly-traded coffee? Well, if you ONLY drink coffee that you make each morning in your very own kitchen- then yes, it's pretty darn easy to do. All you need to do is choose from a selection of Fair Trade coffee beans or grounds at your local grocery store. Done and done. 

Fair trade is "a movement which strives for fair treatment for farmers. In a fair trade agreement
farmers, who in other situations might be more 
susceptible to the will of the purchaser, will negotiate with the purchasers in order to receive a fair price for their products. Farmers who engage in fair trade also aim to pay their workers a fair price, and engage in environmentally-friendly practices."
In order to be a Fair Trade certified coffee, you need to adhere to strict guidelines. So, for the public, you know if it has a Fair Trade logo- it IS fairly-traded. End of story. No smoke and mirrors there. I like that.

In a rush and starving the other day, I went through the Tim Horton's drive-through for a coffee and a bagel. I had run out of coffee grounds that morning and noticed that Tim's is now selling a Partnership Blend fine grind. So, I decided to pick it up and try it. I also wanted to remember what it was called so that I could look it up at home.

Taste-wise? I think it's good. But, I really do not have discerning taste buds at all. I drink my coffee if it's caffeinated, my water from the tap and my wine from a box. 

I am having trouble finding ANYTHING about Tim's Partnership Blend that isn't put out by Tim's itself. I tend to not believe much that any company says about it's own products, BUT- with the lack of information out there (perhaps because it is SO new??) I'll share what the Partnership Blend is doing...according to Tim's:

"The Coffee Partnership was conceived eight years
ago with the singular purpose of improving the lives of
small-scale coffee farmers by tackling the economic, 
social and environmental aspects of farming," says Bill
Moir, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Tim Hortons.
"Through our Partnership projects, we have been 
working directly with farmers in the regions where we 
source our coffee to help them improve farming 
practices, produce higher volumes and better quality 
coffee while respecting the environment. We have 
seen our approach become critically important to 
small-scale farmers in Latin America, especially as 
they have been facing changing growing 
conditions over the past years."  

I am a wee bit sceptical, only because there are so many companies trying to trick the public into thinking that they are doing more than they truthfully are. 

Like the Rainforest Alliance (you may have seen many of the green frog logos in the coffee aisles?) which:

For growers to be certified by the alliance, they must meet a
 list of "sustainable agriculture principles". These include
 conserving local wildlife and water resources, minimising
 soil erosion and treating workers fairly, as well as protecting
 forests and reforesting where possible. In return, says
 Vigilante, "we give them the tools to lift themselves out of
 poverty and open their coffee to more profitable premium 
markets".( Read more )

Is Rainforest Alliance Fair Trade? Definitely not. Companies can actually use the green frog logo as long as only 30% of the the product in that tin that you buy comes from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. That being said, 

"What matters to the Rainforest Alliance is the impact on the land and workers, so a company buying 30 percent of 100 tons has more of an impact than one buying 100 percent of 10 tons " ( Read more) 

You can check out this website for a list of Rainforest Alliance certified products.

So the next time you are in the coffee aisle, take the time to consider the person that grew the beans to make that 'liquid gold'. If you can, please buy Fair Trade. It is the best way to assure that the producers are receiving a fair price for their product.

If you can't swing a Fair Trade ground, at least pick up a Rainforest Alliance ground, or Tim Horton's Partnership Blend- a little positive impact is better than none at all.


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