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An Interesting Question

We've had this question a few times from customers, and rightly so. We thought it best to explain!

In the bustling world of coffee, where sustainability and ethical sourcing are becoming increasingly pivotal, Alfie & Co Coffee Roasters stands out as a beacon of conscientiousness. Despite the prevalent trend towards Fairtrade accreditation, we remain proudly outside the bounds of such certifications. Why? Because at Alfie & Co Coffee Roasters, fostering genuine, personal relationships with coffee farmers is not just a business strategy but a deeply ingrained ethos.

At the heart of our business lies a commitment to transparency and direct engagement with coffee growers. Instead of relying on intermediaries or certifications, we actively seek out partnerships with farmers who share our values and principles. By establishing direct relationships, we gain first-hand insight into the working practices and employment conditions of the farmers and their employees. This intimate understanding allows us to ensure fair compensation, sustainable farming methods, and ethical labour practices without the need for external validation.

One of the key reasons we chose not to pursue Fairtrade accreditation is our belief that such certifications can sometimes create a disconnect between consumers and producers. While Fairtrade provides a valuable framework for ethical trade, it can inadvertently obscure the individual stories and relationships behind each cup of coffee. By bypassing these certifications, we preserve the authenticity of that connection with our farmers, allowing our customers to appreciate the human aspect of their coffee journey.

Furthermore, we strongly believe that Fairtrade accreditation does not always guarantee the highest standards of sustainability and quality. While the intentions behind Fairtrade are noble, the reality is that adherence to the certification's criteria does not always equate to optimal outcomes for farmers or the environment. By maintaining direct relationships with growers, we can tailor our support to address the specific needs and challenges faced by each farming community, thereby ensuring a more meaningful impact with defined outcomes.

In addition to ethical considerations, we also place a strong emphasis on the quality of our coffee. By working closely with farmers who share our passion for excellence, we can source premium beans that reflect the unique terroir of their origins. This dedication to quality extends beyond the final product; it encompasses every stage of the coffee supply chain, from cultivation to roasting and brewing. By prioritising direct relationships over certifications, we can uphold these rigorous standards of quality while empowering farmers to continually improve their practices.

Ultimately, our decision to eschew Fairtrade accreditation is a testament to our unwavering commitment to integrity, transparency, and quality. By forging personal connections with coffee farmers, we not only ensure fair compensation and ethical practices but also fosters a sense of shared purpose and community. In a world where authenticity is increasingly rare, Alife & Co Coffee Roasters stands as a shining example of what it means to prioritise people and principles over labels and certifications.

We also are not alone in this belief, and many independent roasters and coffee buyers are on the same journey as ourselves, backed by evidence from a number of peer reviewed reports and articles which show serious concerns with how the Fairtrade accreditation scheme has significant flaws. This includes forcing a price ceiling on farmers and stopping them from recognising the higher market value for their product, which in turn would benefit their workers with higher wages, as well as smaller farmers having no voice as large plantations are brought onto the scheme. You can do your own reading of the many articles covering this issue, it's a fascinating insight into a good intention that may not be achieving what it set out to.

So, what’s the point we’re making that you can mull on the next time you’re sipping your freshly roasted cup of Alfie & Co coffee? It’s that a logo on a product just means someone signed up and paid to be part of a scheme. It doesn’t mean that it was necessarily the right thing to do.

At Alfie & Co Coffee Roasters, we’ll only ever do the right thing, both by us, our farmers, and you, our customer.