Having responsibility suggests that one act responsibly. Our sense of ‘duty’ in these Santa Barbara communities is firm. I strongly believe that the only way to talk about the issues of ‘livelihood’ and ‘poverty’ is to acknowledge the fact that money matters — for all parties involved — and now is the time to bring it up with our suppliers in a way that is also making them feel the responsibility that they have as employers of coffee workers, many times from their own community and sometimes their neighbors.
There can be a subtle nuance between suggesting and requiring something. As much as there may be a desire to change things for what we think is better, we walk a fine line in trying not to impose our mindset. Exposing ignorance is one thing. Worse is being seen as disrespecting cultural differences and inter-relational dynamics in the communities that we - after all - visit only for a few days each year. We have to acknowledge that we don’t live our farming partners’ lives.
Still, this is the new paradigm we are working toward: This harvest/buying season we are increasing the FOB price to $4.25/4.50 per pound (hence Farm Gate pricing is increasing proportionally) as the BASE price for an 86-points lot, we are at the same time ‘asking’ that the farmers also the pay their workers: farm-workers, pickers, etc., more. It is not a condition, but this increase of 50 cts/lb from last season is meant to give the farmer/land owner/owner of the facilities/business person/ employer an opportunity to distribute some of the gains they are making in relationship with us, to their workers.
As for the farms themselves: the stories, challenges and qualities from this harvest, we’ll share these over the next few weeks as we receive the lots and distribute them to their homes all over the world. Due to the prolonged harvest season, which started in January and went all the way to June, we have visited the region more often this year and have thus selected lots from the mid-harvest point (March), which has now just landed. The lots selected from the later harvest point (June) will soon be afloat.
Follow here and our social media for more on the specific farm updates that we will present in the coming days and weeks.
Coming up in the next season, we will work closely with a team of people on the ground to improve quality even further and in all aspects of making great coffee: husbandry, picking, processing, drying and packaging.
See you soon at a cupping table near you!
- Robert W