Direct trade is based on long-term relationships we have with our coffee farmers. These go far beyond coffee. Tomas Cruz and Elvira Velasco, our host farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico consider our annual coffee harvesting volunteers to be their extended family and make the 2 week harvest and farm stay into a family reunion! From an economic standpoint direct trade is an assurance to our farmers that we will be a reliable, high-value market for them to count on. This provides security for them to make long-term investments in their farm that will continue to increase the health of their forests and quality of their coffee harvest.
We are proud to pay a high price for our coffee, a price we ask the farmers to set and we pay directly to them. We don't pay anyone to source the coffee for us and we pay very little for shipping. Our harvest volunteers bring back most of it home in their backpacks. Mathew Mugo, our host farmer in Kirinyaga, Kenya, based his coffee price on the salary of a local school teacher. He says that teachers stand out in rural communities because they make a decent living and people look up to them as being successful. He determined how much coffee would have to be worth for a coffee farmer to make as much per year as a teacher. We think that's fair too.
In 2014 we added another benefit to our direct trade relationships and we started purchasing the coffee harvest a year in advance. This provides our farmers with the capital at the beginning of the year to use throughout the growing and harvesting season and allows our farmers to maintain the health of their coffee farms as well as their family, health, and education. This was a big investment for us, made possible by our CSA members.