A fair and organic break this Fairtrade Fortnight
Ever thought about the impact your morning cuppa has on the livelihoods of farmers, the environment and our taste buds? We speak with one of our coffee suppliers, Brian Wogan to find out.
Better for people
Brian Wogan were one of the first coffee importers and roasters in the country to supply Fairtrade coffee back in 1992. Now, 25 years later, Fairtrade accounts for a quarter of its business and it is still going strong. Wogan supplies our cafes with a coffee Fairtrade and Organic from Sumatra. “The coffee beans come from the Wahana Coffee Estate in the Dairi district of North Sumatra, Indonesia,” explains Claire Wogan. “The estate is run to a corporate social responsibility ethos, with a clinic for the workers and a farmers’ support centre. The clinic distributes free shade trees, organic fertilizer and coffee seeds. Coffee here grows at an altitude of between 1200-1500 metres with a high annual rainfall of 2000-3000 mm. At night the temperature drops significantly. These factors combine to increase sugar content to around 13%, making this one of the most popular coffee producing regions in Indonesia”.
Buying better coffee is also a little victory for feminism. Women contribute significantly to organic coffee farming, and farming in general. With men increasingly moving from the farm and into cities this trend is likely to continue. If women had the same access to production resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. This could boost agricultural yield in low and middle-income nations by 2.5-4% and reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100 to 150 million.
Better for the environment
Better Food has always worked to ensure its farmers get a fair price. Thanks to the expertise of Wogan we can ensure it tastes great too. “To ensure they we always get the best quality, Wogan are constantly cupping and profiling new green beans from different co-operatives. This guarantees farmers concentrate on maintaining quality and both the producers and consumers reap the rewards,” says Claire.
Organic coffee, as many of us know, has strict guidelines on the use of pesticides. But it also requires a lot more maintenance. The coffee trees and the area around have to be monitored constantly for pest invasion, flowering shrubs are planted next to the bushes to attract pollination. Orchids are planted around the edges to prevent soil erosion on the steep slopes. The coffee has to be harvested on a different date to the inorganic coffee and the machinery has to be cleaned thoroughly to prevent any contamination. All of these guidelines ensures the plantations promote biodiversity, unlike other varieties that undermine biodiversity.
Clearly Organic, Fairtrade coffee has multiple benefits for farmers. A fair price for their coffee means that that extra bit of money can go towards schooling, better infrastructure and healthcare, while organic farming means no nasty chemicals and less dependency on oil-based inputs. Gone are the days that we have muddy mugs of coffee – the rise of artisan coffee roasters means that taste doesn’t have to be compromised if you make the switch to organic and Fairtrade.
Better food recommends…
This Fairtrade Fortnight we are asked to put Fairtrade into our break. Better Food recommends giving Brian Wogan’s coffee a try if you are in our cafes or pick up their Feminista coffee to try in your cafetiere at home or in the office. Look out for the certification stamps in coffee shops and if you don’t see them then ask. Together we can make the world a fairer place, and enjoy drinking coffee while we do it. Brew, anyone?
Fairtrade Fortnight runs from 27th February to 12th March. Head to their website for inspiration and materials to promote the event with friends and colleagues.