Relationship Coffee

James Hoffman defines relationship coffee as an "ongoing relationship between producer and roaster" built on "dialogue and collaboration to work towards better quality coffee and more sustainable pricing" (World Atlas of Coffee, 2nd Ed.).

The Schippers Family of Guatemala

We live in a world where, even with the best of intentions, we can lose the relationships that form the key connections between the people that grow coffee and the people that drink it. As the industry includes more and more steps in the process, the distance grows greater, and the ability to work for the best interest of everyone involved gets more and more difficult.

With greater distance, it becomes easier to not think about how our purchases affect people. Since starting Corda, the number 1 response I get to the plight of coffee farmers is "I had no idea." We go through our day, picking up what we need without a moment's notice. There's simply so much noise coming from so many angles that the real goal of caring for individual people can be lost. This noise is amplified by the new considerate buzz words: fair trade, rainforest alliance, etc. Some of these organizations are good, but even their best work can get drowned out in the latest trend of social activism.

So, where does this leave you? You may not know about the struggles of so many in the world, but you can do something about the ones you do know. Hoffman mentions "more sustainable pricing" as a key result of relationship coffee. This sustainable pricing allows farms to pay a greater wage to their farmers and provide opportunities for them to thrive. The money you spend on coffee at a fair price does good in the world because it is more expensive. Going with the cheaper option does more harm than good. Lower prices lead mass production coffee farms to use whatever means necessary to cut their costs, including using slave labor and even extending this oppression to children.

There's a simpler approach to all of the noise of bag labels in rows and rows of stores, and it involves investment on all of our parts to cut through the noise. Corda sources all of its coffee from people we know: the Schippers in Guatemala, the group of farmers that make up Farmer's Project in Costa Rica, the farms in rural Rwanda supported by the Kula Project, and the local decaffeination operation Descafecol in Colombia. We know these people by name and talk with them directly and, through these relationships, we are able to bring coffee to you that we know is doing good in the world.


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