If you asked any coffee company about what makes their business successful, what would they tell you? Some would credit their popular coffee subscription service, point to the fact that their coffee is certified organic, or credit their hard-working employees; which are all good answers!
However, all of them would agree that great coffee starts with amazing coffee beans, and amazing coffee beans can’t happen without the hard work and talents of our farming communities. At High Brew, we want to create the best coffee we can, and for us, that means investing back in our farmers and workers and supporting their communities.
Keep reading to learn more about our commitment to our Direct Trade partnership, and how we hope to create sustainable coffee for years to come.
High Brew sources its top-quality coffee crops from the Antioquia region of Colombia, South America. As one of the larger producers of coffee in Colombia, the Antioquia region is well-known in the coffee industry.
Located in the northern Andes, the uniquely tropical yet mountainous geography of the Antioquia creates the perfect growing conditions for high-altitude coffee farms. We prefer these beans because high-altitude coffee is often considered to be richer, with more complex flavors than some of its counterparts. These flavors help us to make the perfect cold-brew every time.
Through our partnership, we work to support over 65,000 acres of farmland in the region, the majority of which is family-owned. A portion of every High Brew sale goes towards improved infrastructure, environmental stability, and greater economic opportunity for these local farmers. We hope that our efforts can go a long way to making this coffee truly sustainable.
What Makes Coffee Sustainable?
For coffee to be sustainable, it must be both eco-friendly, and beneficial to those who grow and produce it. Due to the size and global scope of the coffee industry, the demand for coffee has never been higher. While this is great for many people, it has created a sustainability problem for coffee businesses everywhere.
To meet rising demands, some coffee producers have had to clear larger patches of land, or resort to growing hybridized coffee plants that require the use of pesticides. As a result, farmers that don’t make these changes are sometimes exploited and must begin selling their crops for less return. To help address these concerns, coffee brands have had to find new solutions.
To help the environmental side of things, many coffee companies have been focusing on shade-grown coffee, a traditional method of farming that is better for the environment and reduces the issues of land and pesticide use. While this produces more “small batch” coffee
To address the issues of exploitation, companies have been turning to coffee cooperatives, as well as Fair Trade coffee and Direct Trade coffee agreements. Coffee cooperatives help to centralize aspects of coffee production, which lightens the load on individual farmers, while fair and Direct Trade agreements help to ensure coffee farmers get the best market price for their crops.
Fair Trade vs. Direct Trade
Both Fair Trade and Direct Trade agreements are designed to benefit the coffee grower, by giving them economic power in the industry. Recently, however, Fair Trade agreements have come under some critique, which is why we opted for a Direct Trade agreement instead.
Fair Trade agreements function on global standards, meaning that every “Fair Trade certified” coffee brand pays the same amount as a bag of coffee. While the trade certification can help standardize coffee prices, it doesn’t take individual farmers and economic standards into account.
A Direct Trade partnership, like our own, focuses more on relationships between the coffee roasters and coffee farmers. Instead of relying on a global price, we work to provide the best market price available for our growers, and work directly with them to help their success.
At High Brew, we recognize that our approach to sustainability cannot be one-sided. We go more in-depth with our investments below.
Our Direct Trade partnership allows us to see the needs of our farmers, and address them directly. One of the first issues we wanted to help with was the processing of our coffee. To remove the coffee bean from the coffee cherry, it has to go through a process called wet-milling.
Wet-milling is a labor-intensive process and requires a significant amount of water. To help out our local farmers, our Direct Trade partners have constructed 3 central wet-mills for our farmers to outsource processing. Outsourcing their processing allows our farmers more time and resources to focus on farming, while also greatly reducing the amount of water waste in the area. This also allows the farmers to leave directly with a check for their coffee berries and spend more time with their families as the strain from traditional selling methods is removed.
By switching to these energy-efficient, centralized mills, our farmers were able to decrease their average water use from 30 liters to 3 liters per pound of coffee produced. Water filtration also improved by adopting these centralized mills, as the switch has seen over 20mm of water saved from contamination annually.
Loans and Education
To help our farmers prosper alongside their coffee, our partnership has helped us raise $2 million in funds for education. This has helped at least over 1000 people in our coffee community go to college or university, with plans for more in the future.
Our partnership also provides loans and subsidies for farming families. These loans help to keep young farmers invested in coffee growing, as without a guarantee of fair prices and economic stability, many would leave the coffee industry altogether.
Purchasing and Supplies
To directly help our farmers, and to create a better cycle of long-term sustainability, we have helped to build 20 purchasing warehouses in the region. The warehouses were constructed near to our farming communities, reducing the amount of travel needed for our farmers to sell their crops. Farmers can now take their coffee directly to a warehouse, and immediately receive the best possible market price for their crop.
Additionally, our partnership has created and maintained 24 agricultural shops for our growers. This allows them to purchase agricultural supplies for better rates, which helps them to save money for the future.
We know that it takes a lot of effort to create great sustainable, ethical coffee, and we are constantly working to make that a reality. We are proud to promote healthy farming practices, and by ensuring the livelihoods of our farming communities, we think that we can help make coffee more sustainable for everyone.
Our delicious, naturally caffeinated, cold-brew coffee is perfect for anyone with a sense of adventure and a love for the planet. Try out High Brew today, because it’s not where you take your coffee, but where your coffee takes you.