As a cafe near downtown Minneapolis, we put great value on serving our guests ethically sourced coffee. We are thrilled to see that more and more coffee shops and roasters are emphasizing purchasing ethically sourced coffee. This is a move in the right direction for the coffee industry as a whole.
But you may be wondering, what does ethically sourced coffee mean? Is this a marketing ploy for coffee companies to get you to buy more coffee?
In our case, no. When we say our coffee is ethically sourced we mean it.
Coffee Farm Conditions
To know whether coffee was ethically sourced we have to go back to the coffee farm it was grown on. Unfortunately, coffee farmers have a history of being taken advantage of. Even as sustainability efforts have increased, farmers have often been ignored.
Most of the world’s coffee is grown in countries with struggling economies, large wealth gaps, and often, corrupt governments. This has made it all too easy for farmers and field workers to be taken advantage of without anyone noticing.
Coffee is often farmed by children. Many adults working in these fields are under inescapable cycles of debt bondage. These workers are trafficked into fields and paid little if anything for their efforts. Conditions are harsh and unsafe. Workers are exposed to harmful pesticides and forced to drink alongside animals.
Due to a lack of sourcing and transparency, many companies don’t know where their coffee comes from or who farmed it.
Ethically Grown Coffee
For this reason at 7 Corners Coffee, we will only feature roasters who have relationships with the farmers. This means the beans are traceable and farmers are being paid a fair wage and are working in safe conditions.
Today, there is a much greater awareness of the issues facing coffee farmers. The industry continues to take steps toward better pay and safer working conditions, though there is still much progress to be made.
Fair Trade initiatives help to provide proper prices for coffee farmers. However, due to the debt and poor conditions that have developed in coffee communities over decades, this isn’t enough to get them out from under the burden. Ultimately, a Fair Trade label doesn’t necessarily mean the farmers have proper working or living conditions.
Other organizations are working to empower, support, and connect coffee farmers with resources they otherwise wouldn’t have. We have partnered with Long Miles Coffee Project. This program was started in Burundi Africa, the second poorest country in the world. Long Miles Coffee Project has provided local farmers with washing stations while connecting them with ethical roasters around the world.
How Can You Support Ethical Coffee?
While there is a lot of responsibility that falls on the businesses within the industry, consumers play a vital role as well. When buying coffee, look for roasts that are of single origin. If you’re buying coffee that’s distributed by an ethical roaster, it should be traceable back to the farm where it was grown.
The good news is when you visit 7 Corners Coffee cafe in Downtown Minneapolis, not only do you get to enjoy an amazing cup of coffee but you get to contribute to building a better future for coffee farmers around the world.