Mocha Joe’s® Roasting Company is committed to sourcing the finest specialty coffees available. We believe that the key factor in producing these specialty coffees is a sustainable economic relationship that allows farmers to meet their basic needs and works towards the betterment of lives and livelihoods. We work directly with farmer’s groups in both Nicaragua and Cameroon to improve the quality of their coffee and help them to tap into specialty markets that yield higher returns.
The popular term for these projects is Direct Trade, as we bypass several links in the normal coffee supply chain and purchase coffee directly from the farmers themselves. We view this type of transaction as a significant step beyond Fair Trade. We negotiate prices with farmers that take into account all the different factors that affect the coffee market, including the needs of the farmers that feed it.
Our projects are not charity – unlike the Fair Trade Certified program, our Direct Trade program does not set an arbitrary minimum price per pound and does not force farmers to join cooperatives to receive higher prices for their coffee. The farmers that we work with produce a high quality product, and receive higher prices based on that quality, while retaining the ability to organize and do business as they wish. We do not treat coffee as a commodity – these projects do not set pricing based on the coffee futures market. Rather, we provide an independent forum in which we and our farmer partners negotiate our own prices based on what we feel is the coffee’s actual worth – and provide input and expertise to assist farmers in creating a product that is worth more, both to us, and to the coffee community at large.
Additionally, these farmers are not under contractual obligation to us – though we maintain involvement in and assistance with various stages of harvest and processing, farmers are not required to sell to us – and occasionally they don’t. This puts them in a more powerful negotiating position, allowing them to take advantage of fluctuations in the market price, and reduces their dependency on a single client.
So what does all this mean? It means that through these projects, Mocha Joe’s and the farmers that we work with have an arrangement that is mutually beneficial. This type of relationship creates an economic atmosphere that is good for farmers — one in which they have more negotiating power in the supply chain, and can communicate directly with roasters as to the needs and wants of their consumers. Additionally, this model is good for roasters, as not only does it allow us involvement at the farm and mill level to create the kind of product that we desire, but it also cuts out some of the middle-men in a bloated supply chain, resulting in lower prices for us as well as higher returns to the farmer.