Occasionally we receive emails asking if our products are certified fair trade or organic. So, here’s the deal with FTO certifications, not only are they very complex, certifications don’t necessarily mean that a coffee is of a certain quality, and it doesn’t guarantee that producers are being paid fairly. Many coffees are grown organically, but the producers can’t afford the certifications, so they do not sell their coffee to an exporter as organic. We think that’s something a lot of consumers don’t realize—producers have to be inspected and pay for certification, which can be a major financial burden.
On occasion, we may have one or two certified Fair Trade or certified Organic coffees among our offerings, but we focus more on an International set of standards called the Volcafe Way. The majority of coffees that we source are sourced by teams at origin that work with producers to implement the Volcafe Way.
So, just what is the Volcafe Way? It’s a system designed to maximize farmer prosperity while ensuring environmental and social integrity (because when farmers aren’t earning enough money to feed their families, it’s hard to talk to them about properly recycling water, for example).
The Volcafe Way program, hires local people from coffee communities around the world and trains them in things like agronomy and small business planning. Today, they provide classes, individual attention and technical field assistance to interested producers in their communities, at no cost or obligation to the producers.
The goal is win-win: Producers achieve higher-quality coffees and increased farm yields, which improve their bottom lines — and more high-quality coffees exist for us to deliver to roasters.
Plus, more than a certification that customers can feel good about, it’s a philosophy that can be verified by third parties and that, while still just a few years old, is already showing real, data-backed results on the lives of producers and communities
Click the link below to read a great article that dives a bit deeper into organic coffee.