Coffee is hugely important to many countries’ economies around the world. We could buy coffees on the openly traded market, from unknown farms, based purely on the cheapest price for the quality and flavour we require. But we don’t.
Volcano Coffee Works believes in complete Supply Transparency, which means we insist on knowing where our coffee is from and visiting many of our farmers annually. This level of transparency is important, it enables us to ensure we only buy coffee from farmers, co-ops and importers who we are confident believe in the same ethical principles we do.
We commit to our farms, putting in place long term buying contracts at fixed prices, absorbing the external variables like currency fluctuations. The security of a sustainable, recurring and improving income allows our farmers to invest, creating a positive cycle of improved earnings. We are in the business of better coffee and business for everyone in our supply chain.
But we don’t stop there. We only buy coffee when we are confident the farmer meets all three of our Ethical Trading Pillars. Farmers often achieve a Pillar in different ways than another, but for all our coffees we are confident that by supporting our farmers, we are making a positive impact in each of these areas.
We believe that better livelihoods are possible when farmers have reliable and profitable businesses. Right now, too many coffee growing families struggle to make a living from their crops, but together, we can change this. We work with farmers who are committed to improving their returns and building sustainable businesses to support their families. We do this by helping them:
- earn more per kg of coffee - we pay our farmers well for their hard work and amazing product - our average buy price is double that of Commodity Coffee (C Market) and Fair Trade. We buy direct and demand our supply chain is as lean as can be (removing the middle men and women) so that our farmers receive at least 70% of every $1 we pay.
- earn more income per harvest – small holding farmers are forced to sell the majority of their coffees into the lower priced Commodity Market. We work with our farmers to ensure we buy more of their crop that meets our (and your) standards, at our higher prices.
- improve their farming practices to achieve greater yields and better quality coffees - we share knowledge on ways farmers can improve their growing practices to get more bags of coffee per harvest, and coffees that are of better quality and taste, paying our higher prices for their better coffees.
- reducing the cost of production - our coffee buying ethics support(s) communities to build infrastructure that enables the farmers and their communities to keep an even greater share of the price we pay for their coffee. Some have built their own drying stations and mills, another built a ‘receiving center’ with a training and coffee cupping room (where coffees are tasted) saving each farmer a two hour trip to deliver their coffees. When you don’t have your own transport, that’s a significant saving in time and money.
We believe that by living these ethical commitments with our farmers and partners we are building better coffee and better businesses, in particular those of our small-hold farmers.
Like all farming, coffee farmers can choose to farm in ways that are kind to the environment, or with little regard. We only buy coffee from farmers who share our environmental belief that how we protect and treat our planet today, is vital in the long term sustainability of coffee farming, local farming communities and the planet as a whole. Being kind to their environment is very location specific, all our farmers engage in some form of an environmental initiative, such as:
- regenerating existing coffee farming land - with cost of coffee production above the Commodity Market price, it’s unsurprising many coffee plantations have been left idle. When our farmers build a sustainable business and want to expand, they focus on returning deserted land into productive farms, protecting virgin forested areas.
- bio-diversity and bird friendly farming – our farmers plant native trees as shade for the coffee plants, some have up to 40% of their farms designated to native flora. Bio-diversity generates natural fertilizers, plays an important role in natural pest control and increases disease protection for the coffee plants. These areas are also creating invaluable habitats for native birds.
- Naturally organic farming – many of our farmers farm organically, even though they are not certified as the cost of certification is beyond their reach. We recognize the benefits to the environment of natural farming techniques and think it’s critical this knowledge is not lost to farming communities.
- Re-using waste – our farmers understand how precious their natural resources are, some use waste products to complete further coffee processes. We have farmers who use the coffee cherry to generate fuels, others who have developed clever ways to re-cycle the water used in washing stations. These innovators demonstrate that positive environmental impact is achievable at every level.
Our farmers prove that being kind to the environment is possible, even when you are small. Plus, their initiatives are making better business sense. By choosing these farmers and bringing their exceptional coffees to you, we are collectively a force for better.
Coffee is farmed in some of the poorest areas in the world. The income our farmers earn is a critical contributor to the prosperity of their communities. However social progress depends on us all working together. Therefore, we buy from farmers who demonstrate they care beyond their own bottom line, and support social projects and actions, such as:
- investing in education - our farmers know that it’s good for communities and their businesses to have a well educated next generation. We have witnessed our farmers build schools, launch education programs and create day centres.
- funding micro financing schemes – we know that starting a business is hard, even harder when you live in one of the poorer regions in the world. We support farmers who support others, as together we can make more of a difference.
- leaders in gender diversity - when women are not allowed to own land or join coffee co-ops, it’s not just the women that suffer. We support woman farmers and farmers who implement flexible working practices that enable women to participate in coffee and still raise their families. As a result, even more of the money earned from our coffee farms stays with the farming families and community. Getting women involved in the business of coffee has amazing benefits for their society as a whole, just like in any other part of the world.
- keeping communities together - our farmers are instrumental in demonstrating to the next generation that coffee farming is a business with a future. Without these beacons of success, farming communities are losing their young to the cities, leaving communities without the power and vitality of youth.
By investing in our farmers and supporting them to build better farming businesses, we can achieve greater, sustainable improvements in their communities.
We believe coffee farmers who conduct their business in line with all our Ethically Traded Coffee Pillars are game changers and business leaders of tomorrow. We applaud these innovators, large and small. They inspire us every day.
For each of our coffees, we look to share how our farmers live our Ethical Trading Pillars and how Volcano is there every step of the way supporting their outstanding efforts.