One of the things I particularly enjoy about this café is that I can know more about what I’m consuming, and in turn where it’s coming from and who is behind the product. I’ve gotten to know the people who take my order, the people who make my flat white cuppa, and those who own the café itself. However the story of my cuppa goes deeper than that. I know that the Zany Zeus Zorganic milk comes from the Waikato in Aotearoa NZ, in which it’s processed, packaged and distributed by a business in my suburb. I also know that my fair trade coffee has a been sourced by Trade Aid Importers, an active World Fair Trade Organisation Member sourcing beans from various countries of Africa, and the Americas. And if I’m feeling like I want a bit of sweetness to kick-start the day, I will be spooning in some Fair Trade Organic Sugar from Manduvira, a Cooperative in Paraguay.
There is another part of my coffee that you and I don’t normally engage with. The origin. This is where the second Fair Trade Principle comes in, Transparency and Accountability.
So let us go to the place that is considered the home of coffee – Ethiopia. As featured in the 2006 documentary, Black Gold the Oromia Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union (OCFU) exists. The film shows the journey of coffee through the lead of the general manager, Tadesse Meskela as he is determined to make a better life for the workers and the families of the coffee producers.
Throughout this journey we get to see the determined Tadesse engaging with the producers, providing them with the market knowledge that they previously had no access to, traveling to other parts of the world to put their coffee on the map, striving for a good & fair price for the coffee they spend so much energy producing, avoiding the additional ‘middle-men’ of the trade chain, and simply making the process of trading their coffee more just and fair for all.
As we follow this Fair Trade journey, the best is yet to come when we see the open process that allows a space of transparency and accountability, and provides the various individual producers to have a say in where the Fair Trade Social Premium should go and what community facilities & resources that should feed into It is incredibly important that we as consumers can see the benefits of how a daily decision can feed the lives of not only an individual, or a family, but can empower and strengthen a whole community and beyond through schools, medical clinics, access to clean water just to name a few.
Each and every one of us has the power to make the difference. It can simply begin with us knowing where that cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate or other consumable comes from. Every time we vote with the spending of our dollar, we also have the power to open up a bit more transparency and accountability by buying Fair Trade. To be more aware of who has put their love, energy and effort into what we consume and enjoy, so that we can ensure they have just as enjoyable lives.
By Karen Yung, New Zealand Networks and Services Officer