There are people across the world who literally can not start their day without a coffee; in fact, lets throw a number in there – 125 million people worldwide rely on coffee. Coffee is the most widely traded and valuable tropical agricultural product and with 25 million smallholder farmers producing 80% of our coffee, they’re sadly failing to earn a reliable living.
Given the commodity of coffee and the surrounding factors which affect its growth, the coffee market is incredibly unstable which is characterised by huge fluctuations in price. The volatility of this, of course, has incredible consequences for those who are farming it and depend on coffee for their livelihood. These workers don’t need a cup of coffee to get through their day like some of us, what they need is guaranteed, or at least, predicted and steady income.
So, whether it’s a relaxed home-made latte or a rushed cappuccino on the commute, for most of us coffee fuels our day. But let’s think more about where we’re getting it from.
I recently attended an event held by Greggs at the Ham Yard Hotel in London to discover more about Fairtrade as part of Fairtrade Fortnight. Thousands of companies and people across the country participate in this fortnight and choose to put Fairtrade in their break and take exploitation out. On the whole we aren’t thinkers.
We don’t think about where our coffee comes from that much and if we do we don’t dwell on it for long but this event really got me thinking and questioning if what I was buying was Fairtrade.
Greeted upon arrival with a choice of two wonderful cocktails – a green tea martini or an espresso martini – I was treated to an absolute plethora of information about Fairtrade and its workers. I think what Fairtrade provides to these workers is incredibly vital. With Fairtrade, certified coffee producer organisations are guaranteed to receive, at the very least, ‘Fairtrade Minimum Price’ for their coffee.
This aims to cover costs and act as a back up when market prices fall below levels which are sustainable. Through producer organisations, farmers also receive an additional ‘Fairtrade Premium’ which should be used to invest in business and/or community improves. Fairtrade not only care about improving quality, but care about the coffee farmers themselves. It basically means these farmers do not miss out due to factors beyond their control and it means they don’t have to live in poverty while we walk around with a lovely cup of coffee without a care in the world.
At the event, there was a ‘cupping’ table where we got to hear some really cool facts about coffee (um, did you know coffee is a cherry?!)and where we also got to taste three different coffees by means of slurping, swishing and spitting or swallowing. I gave them a good sniff as I adore the smell of coffee but I honestly don’t think I’m cut out to be a coffee connoisseur as I couldn’t really tell them apart.
While watching the demonstrations and while other people were talking amongst themselves my mind constantly wandered back to those farmers we had just been talking about. We heard about a couple of particular farmers who had benefitted from Fairtrade and just how much it had changed their lives. One thing that resonated with me is that Fairtrade has made such a difference to the lives of women in particular; they can now earn the same wage as a male farmer and have complete control of their own finances. Not only this, as a woman who has been given this it means she can been given security and mostly independence. With it being International Womens’ Day today it really hit home that we are working worldwide to have equality amongst genders.
The Undercover Coffee event had an undercover sponsor who was to be revealed to us during the event. Just imagine my surprise when the sponsor was Greggs. Yes, the amazing sausage rolls and club baguettes Greggs! I had absolutely no idea they had been a Fairtrade partner for 10 years. Not only does this show that Greggs is committed to making a positive difference it shows that they’re absolutely supporting marginalised producers in developing countries.
Greggs’ full hot drinks range is certified as Fairtrade; each cup of coffee is made with a unique blend of freshly ground Arabica and Robusta coffee beans which have been slow roasted to create a delicious and full flavour. So, however you like it; black, white, latte, Peruvian, Columbian, at home or in the office, make a conscious effort to choose Fairtrade.
It’s not just coffee though; there are over 4,500 Fairtrade products from tea to flowers to gold. Make sure when you shop you’re looking for the Fairtrade mark – you can find a list of the brands here!
Join in with Fairtrade Fortnight over on social media! Feel free to tag me, @raisingtherings, @GreggsOfficial, @FairtradeUK and use hashtags #UndercoverCoffee and #ChooseFairtrade