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You have likely heard of Fair Trade in the coffee community, but how about Direct Trade? Direct Trade is becoming increasingly popular as it allows coffee roasters to buy directly from the growers and producers, rather than through a middleman buyer and seller. The exclusion of the middleman allows for more of the money to go directly to the producer/farmer. The philosophy behind Direct Trade also dictates a quality standard for coffee beans, while Fair Trade does not. Each harvest must reach a high quality standard rather than an average overall quality score, which through Fair Trade typically include beans of varying quality. Also, unlike Fair Trade, Direct Trade does not require the producers to become part of a cooperative; a relatively expensive practice that often excludes small operations with small harvests.
We at Erie Coffee Roasters have decided the Direct Trade culture is one that supports our vision of creating respectful relationships with the growers and their communities. We want to ensure that we are getting the highest quality green beans, while also paying the farmers the highest value for their harvest.
While there may not yet be a perfect model for coffee buying, we at ECR strongly feel Direct Trade is the next step in the evolution of the coffee bean supply chain. We will continue to follow the advancements in the coffee trade and post relevant updates to keep our coffee drinking community informed of their choices as responsible coffee drinkers.
The image below is an infographic designed by Bird Rock Coffee outlining some of the differences between fair trade and direct trade.