Fair Trade only offers farmers about 20 cents more than commodity pricing for every pound of coffee sold, a small increase for even the largest producers. Fair Trade is also only available to cooperatives and large estates, leaving out small-scale individual farmers. It also lacks the level of transparency and traceability back to the producers that we value. Fair Trade fails to incentivize high-quality coffee or innovation at the farm level, paying farmers the same rate no matter the quality.
Direct Trade, on the other hand, typically implies that a coffee buyer agrees to a fair price directly with the coffee farmer based on quality. In 2010, Olympia Coffee
became an early-adopter of this model, developing our own standards to ensure that farmers were rewarded for high-quality coffee.
Currently all of our farmers are paid more than double the Fair Trade rate according to our own Direct Trade standards. However, while Direct Trade answers the injustice of sustainability for the farm owner, and creates higher quality coffees for our line-up, we still believe that something has been missing.
Simply put, no Direct Trade system has ever ensured a minimum wage or safe working conditions for coffee pickers, processors, or other laborers within the farm itself.