Quills Coffee and THRIVE Farmers

There is much discussion and even controversy in the ideas of coffee fairness - specifically the oft-misunderstood label of Fair Trade and how much money actually makes it to the farmers. We will not be taking the time to hash all of that out at the moment but we do encourage educating yourself. There is a lot of easily searchable info out there explaining the pros and cons, ins and outs and various positions

Our recent engagement with the THRIVE Farmers business model is not a statement against other methods of fair business practices, however we are excited about these new endeavors and appreciate how they are bringing us such interesting coffees and seeking to improve the way in which farmers are compensated and able to continue growing their farms. 

The San Cristobal "honey-process" has its own interesting story we've told you about recently. It also was used by Michael in his recent success at the USCC Barista Competition. This coffee was the first we worked with THRIVE in obtaining. You can read more about the specific unique process of that coffee (and order it) here.

THRIVE's basic approach is to allow for direct relationships from the farmer to the roaster without a lot of the costs and logistical challenges that make that impractical for many.

From their website

Farmers normally receive only a tiny percentage of the value their crop generates as it moves through the complex supply chain and is leveraged by multiple players in the coffee industry. THRIVE farmers allows the farmer to share in the revenue generated. Being closer to the consumer, the farmer captures added value from his crop to support his family and community while also investing in the future

This "farm-to-table" approach looks something like this...

  1. Consign a portion of the farmer's crop
  2. Defer immediate payment in order to obtain a much higher price when the roasted coffee is sold at retail
  3. Deliver a higher percentage of the net profit from the retail sale to the farmer

Several weeks ago we were fortunate enough to be able to talk to the farmer -in addition to the guys at THRIVE- through Skype and learned a little more about both the process and THRIVE's practices and hopes. 

Our Director of Operations Luke Daugherty sums it up:

With THRIVE in particular - I think the general reality that we’re excited about is that they are trying to “buck the system” so to speak in how they deal with the supply chain in a way that is more beneficial to farmers for the long term. That along with the fact that they are doing it THROUGH a quality focus, rather than just a baseline certification like Fair Trade, is exciting and I think more sustainable as a model. It’s new and so it will take a few years to see it really begin to pan out for farmers, but it’s exciting nonetheless. When a farmer can walk away with 75% of the cost that a roaster pays for a premium specialty coffee like this… that is a lot of money that can go a long way toward development year after year- and then back to the workers themselves.
— Luke Daugherty, Quills Coffee

But we certainly can't tell the story as well and personally as THRIVE farmer Alejandro Garcia. We encourage you to watch.