Direct trade has been around the coffee business for awhile. It’s a way of making sure that the people making the coffee get the best possible prices for their work. Instead of selling their coffee to huge multi-nationals, coffee growers all over the world can sell their coffee directly to coffee roasters, like Zoka Coffee Company, and cut out the middle-man.
Like most things, direct trade has become a big business. Search for direct trade coffee and you’ll find plenty of companies advertising their direct trade credentials. There is even a certification organization that, for a price, will give you a brand to display on your bags, on your site and in your stores.
Zoka does direct trade coffee. Zoka does fair trade coffee. We’ve been doing both since almost the beginning, nearly 17 years ago, when we were just one store with a small roaster right in the middle. In the last ten years, we’ve been moving beyond the traditional direct trade model. We’re taking it one step further, and its better for all concerned.
We call it Family Direct Trade. We don’t just fly into a country, visit some farmers, or maybe a local wholesaler, write a check and head back home. We get to know farmers, their families, their communities. We make long term commitments to buy their coffee, at prices that are usually above what other direct trade companies purchase coffees for. Why? Because we are genuinely interested in the long term health, happiness and prosperity of our coffee partners, their families, and their communities.
By working with our suppliers on a long term basis, it changes the relationship. Farmers are able to make long term plans, for their crop, their family and their community, because they know there is a stable, permanent market at prices higher than the commodity coffee traders offer. That’s a game changer, and an opportunity to change the economy around coffee farming from subsistence to sustainable. That’s good for everyone. We know our customers want to be drinking this coffee for years to come. And that’s only possible if the farmers can be assured of a market for the distinctive, high quality coffees that provide a better life for them, and a better experience in your cup.
The Zoka Coffee Buyer team is just back from a week in Central America, visiting Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica to see the latest in growing and processing innovations, visit our friends and see their farms and buy some great coffee for you for this spring.
See photos from our time in El Salvador and Costa Rica on our photos page.