What is Cooperative Coffees?
Cooperative Coffees, born in 1999, is collectively owned and managed by a group of 24 specialty coffee roasters located throughout the United States. (See our member list). By evaluating and comparing our former sources of raw green coffee and combining our purchasing needs, we determined that we could successfully launch our own importing organization and purchase directly. We are committed to supporting and partnering with small-scale, fair trade coffee farmers and their exporting cooperatives. By importing directly from farmer partners, such as Rigoberto Ramirez of Santa Anita in Guatemala (pictured), Cooperative Coffees seeks to foster a more equitable system of coffee trade that directly benefits these farmers, their families and their communities.
We purchase our green coffee directly from 23 or more small farmer cooperatives in 12 coffee producing countries. By cooperatively combining our purchasing needs, we can multiply the positive effects of our coffee purchasing philosophy.
Last year, we purchased over 2 million pounds of fair trade green coffee from these farmer cooperatives. In addition to committing to long-term purchasing relationships and paying a fair price for the coffee we import, Coop Coffees also helps to provide low-interest loans to many of these cooperatives for supplies and living expenses throughout the growing season.
Fair Trade verses Free Trade
Heine Brothers’ Coffee is committed to fair trade rather than the conventional free market approach. Free trade allows the open, free market to determine who will succeed. The result? With no guidelines, the poor and disenfranchised often get left behind. Free trade is no where near fair for these individuals.
Coffee farmers are typically some of the poorest people on the planet. We expect them to grow the most fragrant and delicious coffee and individually pick each ripe coffee cherry by hand. In the end, they are rarely paid a living wage for these efforts.
We purposely source our coffee from small-scale producers, who rarely have access to capital and basic market information. Often these small farmers cannot directly export their coffee – and are therefore forced to deal with middlemen, also known as coyotes. Cooperative Coffees develops direct relationships with partner-producers based on fairness and an open exchange of information.
Fair Trade guarantees these folks a livable, fair wage. This price guarantee offers a more stable way of doing business- for both farmers and importers. Conventionally, coffee is traded on an ever changing commodities market. Prices may spike or plummet quickly leaving farmers with little security from season to season. Fair traders agree to pay farmers a minimum floor price for the coffee that they grow no matter how low the market falls. If, however, the market price rises above the fair trade price, farmers are paid the market price plus an additional premium of 5 cents per pound.
For more information on Cooperative Coffees and the farmers around the world that we are partnered with, please visit: www.coopcoffees.com