We help coffee growers

Helping the coffee growers of Africa


We were introduced to a fair trade coffee shop that takes things one step further. Not only so they give the farmers a fair price, they also provide health care, school improvements and gardens by partnering with other non-profits. So not only do the growers get more cash but their entire community receives more benefits to help lift the entire village out of poverty.

In a story for newspaper the The Santa Fe Reporter, writer Charlotte Jusinski talks to Fairman about the nature of the coffee business. We can learn a lof from the interview.

Coffee farmers only earn 3 to 4 cents per pound. Why so little?
Coffee is one of those commodities that, even though it’s the second highest-traded legal commodity after oil, coffee farmers are about the only people who don’t get to say what the price is for their coffee. It’s a world-market price. The coffee cherry will rot in 24 to 36 hours if it’s not processed, so it’s a take-it-or-leave-it price.

What is it about coffee that is so unsustainable?
Coffee is harvested three to five months out of the year. Farmers are supposed to make enough money in those three to five months to feed themselves for a year, but they barely make enough to feed themselves through the harvest. So when Coffee Kids can provide alternative projects like microcredit [for funding gardens or small non-coffee businesses], people who haven’t had access to the local economy are contributing when there is no money from coffee. People like to talk about sustainable coffee, but there is no such thing as sustainable coffee. It’s sustainable communities.

What’s it like to visit the farmers?
They often live in wooden shacks. They give you the one chair that they have in the house to sit in. And I learn so much from the coffee farmers when I visit. One woman, a member of a microcredit group in Veracruz, Mexico, in a very rural area, said to me, ‘You know, some days we have meat, and some days we don’t. We’re doing pretty good.’ And I still get teary right now saying it. Why is that OK? You really get a perspective on what poverty is.