Operating in Sunlight

I have to ask; Are consumers buying coffee for the coffee or are they buying disposable brand art filled with coffee? In a category in need of sunlight we are only creating more shadows with more and more ‘ me too ‘ brands appearing all the time.

My hope has always been that the marketing of coffee would come in line with the truth of coffee as consumers became more educated. But what’s happened instead is a consumer distracted, confused and placated with a plethora of me too coffees drowning consumers with hollow brand stories tied to certifications bound to minimum standards or half truths.

So to shed a little light, there are very few legitimate coffee importers in Canada and typically they share regionals they don’t personally import from. Buying from an importer is not Direct Trade and only damages the weight of what direct trade should mean. Organic certification does not reflect the ethics of a growing environment or the fairness of wage at source; It simply means it’s organic. Fair trade is a great guarantee for a minimum benchmark standard but has unfortunately lulled consumers into complacency.

I fear we’re on the wrong path and it actually puts our coffee supply in a precarious place. Because while we’re buying distractive ‘me too’ brands motivated by quick returns, with hollow stories, coffee farmers and communities plights of low wages, climate change and the general ongoing hardship gets lost in the dust. It wrecks my conscience that we will spend $14.00 for a Ib of BS branded coffee and feel relevant when the picker at source is making $ 2.00 - $ 5.00 per day trying to piece life together and provide for their family.

A truth we are witnessing in our region is the abandonment of coffee lands in favour of easier more profitable but environmentally damaging initiatives like cattle. Which turns the biodiverse old world shade coffee farms into deserts in 4 - 6 years. And that is the hard choice for coffee farmers all over Central and South America. You can actually draw a line between the unrest in Columbia to the protracted poverty of those in coffee. Things need to change.

When these thoughts consume me I fight to come back to one personal truth; I can react to the injustice or respond. And I will always choose to respond every day through doing it my way and operating in the sunlight. You never truly win by cheating and profit isn’t just financial. And consumers need to start reading, questioning and demanding change. We are all better than a well branded BS coffee bag.

Frog on.

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