I love the Australian cafe culture. Good tasting coffee served in an ambient environment with the clunk of cups and warm chatter in the background. One of our main suppliers of coffee beans is Colombia, however, their farmers were on strike in June over the price of coffee.
We all enjoy a good cup of coffee and no doubt would want to pay a fair share, but I recently learnt that there is a gap in the effectiveness of coffee traceability. While, nowadays, coffee brands are able to effectively trace the origin of the coffee to a specific farmer, they continue to pay market price for a top quality coffee. Many tell their customers that they are paying the coffee producer directly, but in reality that is not possible with small scale farmers who, in many cases, don’t even have a local bank account let alone an international one.
Coffee producers in Colombia are not receiving a fair, living wage. Coffee brands are getting away with paying the minimum and claiming a fair price. A small scale farmer in southern Columbia will receive around $2.50 per kilo, barely enough to live on.
If cafe owners and consumers start to push for traceability of cost as much as they currently push for quality, coffee brands could start to pay a fair cost, then things will really change.
There are some companies out there that are trying to provide a fair wage – La Jacoba is a local firm operating in Perth who have direct links to the producers and small scale farmers. Mauricio Velasquez of La Jacoba explains the predicament in more detail to the West Australian newspaper.
Fair trade is a great starting point, but there is more that could be done to ensure a fair wage reaches the farmer. Some firms are starting to explore these opportunities – it would be great if we could support them.