Sourcing Coffee Direct From the Farm | Taking Care of People

Posted by James Helms on

Coffee Buying Trip to Honduras
(pictured left to right: A neighbor farmer, James, Erlin Barillas, Mark the expat)

In 2019 my wife and I took a one month long trip to Copan, Honduras. The trip was for two reasons...a large part of our trip was to celebrate our 25th year of marriage and the second part of the trip was to source coffee direct from the farm. Two birds with one stone and all.

Buying Coffee Direct

Coffee farmers are most often underpaid. Paying farmers less than a subsistent wage for their coffee is an unethical business practice. It's exploitation. Paying farmers a living wage is one part of our core distinctive (that being people, place, coffee...). Buying direct from the farm is a way to ensure a living wage.

In Honduras, according to Erlin Barillas, coffee farmers typically earn between .60 and .99/LB on the local market. The poverty earnings are a significant reason for abandonment of farms and forced immigration north. During my visit, the impact of abandoned farms was apparent for Erlin. Many adjoining farms to Coffeerama showed neglect, unmitigated coffee leaf rust disease constantly threatens his crops. Rotating in more resistant varieties of coffee is a way to naturally combat the leaf rust disease, a practice that abandoned farms are not present to participate in.

Poverty earnings are a significant reason for abandonment of farms and forced immigration north

When we buy our coffee direct we set the price per pound direct with the farmer. We pay more than 150% more over local prices for our Honduran coffee. That works out to 78% more than even fair trade prices. We work through a coffee importer to pay for and import our beans. With rising prices, Coffeerama's request was not to increase our price but to buy more beans, we increased our order by 25% this year and are fighting like mad to grow our business by that much or more through this next year.

We are looking for new retail channels and more wholesale partnerships. If you buy coffee, consider buying our coffee. We supply coffee to homes all over the United States, we also have a growing list of wholesale relationships. We believe in paying a living wage for our coffee farmers and we are intent on paying a living wage to our employees, every business should. We know that inflation is driving up prices across the board and it can be tough to pay more for coffee. Help us take care of people, your dollars spent is a vote for ethical business practices, we are counting on you.


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