6 Ways To Tell If Your Coffee Really Is Ethical

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6 Ways To Tell If Your Coffee Really Is Ethical


How do you know your 'ethical' coffee brand really is doing good? Here are some eco essentials to look for in home coffee delivery or subscription.

Will Corby

Mon 23 Nov 2020

In recent months, it’s likely you will have spotted ads for ‘speciality coffee, ethically sourced’ pop up on your phone or laptop.

With the majority of us spending a lot more time at home, the demand for delicious coffee has surged but sadly, not all coffee brands are created equal.

A truly ethically-sourced coffee translates to farmers being paid fairly for the coffee they’re producing.

However, although demand has grown, the global price paid for coffee hasn’t increased for farmers.

In fact, many farmers have been forced to expand their farms (out of their own pocket) to keep up with demand.

Paying low prices to farmers doesn’t just affect their livelihood, it can even lead to global problems such as deforestation.

At Pact Coffee we believe that all farmers should be paid a quality price for quality coffee - a price that makes their job sustainable and profitable both now and in the future.

This means giving farmers enough to invest in their farms and continue producing better quality coffee, rather than being forced into producing larger quantities of lower quality coffee.

So, what should you look out for when they’re shopping for delicious, ethically-sourced coffee?

6 Ways To Tell If Your Coffee Really Is Ethical

1. Suspiciously low prices

If you’re paying a bargain price for an ‘ethical’ coffee, it’s unlikely the farmer who grew the coffee has been compensated fairly.

Paying farmers low prices is often what forces them to do what they don’t want to do - deforest land to prioritise quantity over quality.

man coffee farmer amongst coffee plants

Make sure your ethical coffee brand is paying farmers fairly

2. Straight to source

Do you know how your coffee gets to you? If your favourite brand doesn’t openly share this information, they may be hiding something.

Direct trade brands cut out unnecessary steps and go straight to source, freeing up more money for the people at the heart of the industry.

So, if you like a coffee, but don’t know how it gets to you - just ask the brand!

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3. Traceability and transparency

A brand that’s able to be transparent about its supply chain, should be able to trace their coffee back to its origin and list the farm or farmer who grew the coffee.

They should also be able to be transparent about the price they’ve paid to the farmers - again, if they don’t tell you, just ask!

coffee farmers outside

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4. Recyclable packaging - it’s not the be all and end all

Recyclable packaging is important and something we’re working towards at Pact Coffee, but often brands prioritise this over producing an overall sustainable product.

Sustainability at source is just as important for the environment.

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5. Go beyond the label

Many brands shout about being part of wider ethical and environmental schemes such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance: these are great, but look for the many brands who go above and beyond this!

At Pact, we’re very transparent about the fact that we pay our farmers between 25-125% above fair trade prices.

team of people in front of a green building

Is your coffee brand transparent about people are treated in its supply chain?

6. Look for brands who shout about their ethical mission

Corporate social responsibility is more than just a marketing buzz term, it should be embedded into a brand’s identity.

Brands that have an ethical story and a great mission tend to shout about it from the rooftops. Some of our favourites outside of the coffee world are Who Gives a Crap?, Tony’s Chocolonely and TOMS.

At Pact Coffee we’re on a mission to Make Coffee a Force for Good. We’re proud to be leaders in establishing a Direct Trade model, but we want more brands to be doing this - whether it’s for coffee, chocolate or any other product.

The more consumers who support direct trade brands, the more mainstream this will become, supporting thousands of farmers worldwide.

What do you think? Who are your favourite ethical coffee brands and why? Let us know in the comments below!

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