Fair Trade vs Direct Trade

FairTrade coffee beans vs DirectTrade coffee beans

The Fair Trade quality marks are reasonably known to consumers. We know them from many products such as bananas, coffee and chocolate. A very good initiative, especially for the "supermarket coffees", because there is competition mainly on price, with the result that the coffee farmers are often the victims.

Yet you gradually see a new development in the coffee world, it almost looks like a counter-movement and that is DirectTrade instead of FairTrade.

In this blog we try to name the differences and see why this countermovement is slowly developing.

Fair Trade coffee - a good start

In 1988, the sale of the FairTrade quality mark actually started. The first packs of coffee were sold. The Max Havelaar foundation was the founder of the FairTrade quality mark. The Mexican coffee farmers in particular asked for help. There was development aid, but a better price for coffee was a much better initiative for the farmers.

More and more products were FairTrade certified. But over the years, criticism of the quality mark has also grown. The FairTrade quality mark would be a Western toy (Volkskrant) and by buying FairTrade products, the organization behind it would be maintained (Radar). For coffee farmers it is often a huge administrative hassle to become a member of this quality mark. Small coffee farmers and smaller cooperatives cannot afford this. Even as a coffee roaster you cannot just sell FairTrade products. Membership costs money, inspections cost money and the question arose more and more among coffee farmers, roasters and coffee traders whether this money could not be better spent. Another problem is that the quality mark has an eye for "honesty", but not really for quality.

Coffee cherry picking uganda DirectTrade: the new trend

More and more coffee roasters are done with the large unwieldy organizations that stand between them and the coffee farmers. It costs money, the focus on quality is minimal and the farmer hardly benefits from it. That's why more and more coffee roasters are going for the most logical step ever! They skip all the links between them and the coffee farmers and go on their own.

This way we can watch, taste, make clear agreements about quality and build long-term relationships. Because the links between them are skipped, those links do not have to be paid and this money CAN end up with the farmer and his family. The sale will only go through if both parties adhere to the agreements made. This way the coffee roaster has a higher quality coffee and the farmer has more income.

To make the quality of the coffee standard and comparable, there is the SCA point score. Many coffee roasters who do DirectTrade work with Specialty Coffee .

About 1% of the world's coffee production is specialty coffee, which is also the market in which Van Hilst Koffie en Thee is active. They are coffee beans whose price is not determined by the stock market, but by their quality and their rarity. The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) is the organization that knows everything about specialty coffee. For example, certain guidelines have been drawn up to be allowed to bear the title of specialty coffee.

Coffee acquires unique taste characteristics due to the way in which the coffee beans are grown and processed. These unique flavors should still be present as a drink in your cup.

Only coffee that scores at least 80 points according to a so-called "Q grader" may be sold under the name 'specialty coffee'. This encourages coffee farmers to make the coffee harvest as successful as possible, because the higher the point score, the higher the price!

Van Hilst Koffie en Thee is fully active in the “DirectTrade” market, we will try to expand this more and more in the coming years. This process takes time, but we are proud to have four coffee types in our range that have been obtained through this "DirectTrade Label".