originally posted June 10, 2013
“Is your coffee fair trade?” is a question we hear a lot. Increasingly, it seems, coffee consumers are interested in where their beans are coming from and how. And rightfully so! The recent boom in independent, quality-focused roasteries across North America has sparked a popular interest in coffee farming and trade practices. So, how do we do things?
At Detour, the concept of quality has driven much of our business ethos. What does quality mean to us? It means that we sell good beans – we strive to provide a quality product to our clients. But it also means that our business is done in a fair and transparent way, and we truly believe that our current coffee trade arrangements are just that.
Detour rarely carries beans that are Certified Fair Trade, choosing instead to work with independent importers – a practice that, we believe, provides a higher quality product, compensates producers more fairly, and cultivates sustainable business practices for all parties. These small-scale organizations have direct contracts with individual farms or small-scale co-ops in different regions; they know the coffee producers, and their product, intimately and ultimately serve as middle-man between us (the roaster) and the farms that grow our coffees.
We see this as a mutually beneficial arrangement for several reasons. First, it allows us to know exactly where our beans are coming from – in fact, if you check the back of the labels of our bags, you'll often see a blurb about the farm that grew the beans you're going to drink! Second, it assures a fair price for the coffee farmers we work with. We are quality focused and know that premium coffees come at a premium price. By seeking out quality bean sources, through the assistance of our trusted importers, we are paying farmers more for their bean than they might get by going through a large exporter.
Finally, we believe that this quality-based trade builds the foundations for long-lasting, sustainable business practices for all parties. By buying coffee from individual farms and small-scale co-ops we are laying the ground for a long-term partnership - when we find a bean we love we are eager to continue buying that same, quality product; similarly, knowing that they can count on being fairly compensated for their product arguably serves as an incentive to farmers to continue growing quality beans!
As Detour continues to evolve as a business, so has our sourcing. We are excited by the new opportunities and resources available to us to purchase better and more sustainable coffees. We hope to continue to deepen our relationships with the growers of our coffees and create long-term partnerships that will both provide us with a secure, sustainable source of beans, as well as secure income and business for the growers thereof.
Here at Detour, we strive to provide a quality product in a way that we feel good about, and we hope you do too!