What would you do without your brew?
Many of us take for granted that our favorite brew will always to help get us going in the morning, but that may not always be the case. In Kenya (and other origins around the world) the farmers who grow the specialty coffee we love are uprooting their coffee bushes at an alarming rate. In fact, if things continue as they are, specialty Kenyan coffee -- arguably the best coffee in the world -- may not even exist in another 25 years.
This is because the farmers who are responsible for growing the coffee we love are frustrated at being systematically marginalized and sidelined from the sales process. In fact, while Americans are paying more than ever for a cup of coffee, Kenyan farmers are still being paid about the same today that they were in the 1980s! Many factors contribute to the problem, including:
high production costs
long, often vertically-integrated supply chains monopolized by western corporations
In Kenya, the same marketers that are supposed to help farmers get a good price for their coffee are often simultaneously paid by larger exporting companies to keep prices low -- a huge conflict of interest that hurts the growers. American coffee buyers are often misled to believe their beans are ethically sourced, when in fact they are not, and the complexity of the supply chain makes it nearly impossible for them to discover the truth. Similar problems exist in other coffee-growing countries as well, leading to a global "coffee price crisis" threatening the production of specialty coffee.
"But I trust my roaster is doing the right thing!"
Most knowledgeable roasters are aware of these injustices, but few know a way to effectively make a difference. Even when they try their best to buy ethically-sourced coffee, they can only know what they paid their supplier, or sometimes what their supplier paid to the exporters at origin (called "FOB"), but they can rarely be sure how much of that is shared with the farmer. Zabuni offers a sustainable solution! When your roaster buys their coffee through Zabuni, they can know for certain that the farmer is fairly paid because we eliminate middlemen and are completely transparent about our pricing.
"How can I help?"
Next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, talk to your roaster or barista! Let them know that you've learned that many coffee farmers are not paid fairly -- even forced to take losses on their whole year's labor -- and that how your coffee is sourced matters to you. Here are some conversation starters for you:
What can you tell me about who grew this coffee?
How do you decide where to buy your coffee beans from?
Is your supplier transparent with you about how much they paid for the coffee?
If so, can they tell you how much of that went to the farmers themselves, not just the dealers in the origin country? Can it be verified?
Are you aware that Fair Trade Certified coffee does very little to help, and sometimes even hurts the farmers more?
If there was a place in the US to get really great Kenyan coffee directly from the growers and know for sure what they were paid, would you be interested in finding out more?
Don't already have a favorite local roaster? Visit our retail store for roasted coffee sourced from Zabuni!
Other things you can do: Ask your coffee shop to carry our coffee, give us a like or a follow, and share with your friends! Sign up for our newsletter below, or check out our blog section to learn more!