Peace Coffee: For Beans & Bikes

For more than a dozen years now, Peace Coffee has been roasting up fair trade, organic beans from farmer coops around the world. Last year I had the opportunity to visit their roastery in Minneapolis and spend a day touring the city’s finest cafes where just and sustainable cups are served up from Peace Coffee.

Peace is somewhat unique in that they are owned and operated a non-profit organization called the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. They are unusual in some other ways too. For instance, they’re kinda wacky about bikes. Check out this brand new video from them that I just got from Melanee Megan, Peace marketing director (gotta love that title, a Peace marketer).

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7 Responses to Peace Coffee: For Beans & Bikes

  1. Cybrspin says:

    You forget to mention the fact their bean sorters are paid less than 50 cents per day per 8 hour shift.

    Mighty white of ya there peace coffee.

    dont let fairt rade fool ya, its just a mask to hide sweatshops.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0492447/

  2. Melanee says:

    Hi CyberSpin,
    Thanks for stopping by. I’d be curious to hear your sources on wages for coffee bean sorters.

    We are aware that in some coffee producing regions, the people, often women, who sort the beans are not highly compensated for their work. In fact almost all of the world’s specialty coffee is sorted by the hands of people who are not highly paid. This is coffee that will eventually go to Starbucks as well as roaster members of Cooperative Coffees. With that said, importers such as Cooperative Coffees have been vocal in questioning and asking that more and more people who touch the coffee are paid a living wage.

    Some of the larger cooperatives we buy from like CECOCAFEN in Nicaragua have been able to purchase their own dry-processing plant and pay the the sorters a wage that reflects fair trade practices. In Sumatra, the organization we buy from uses a dry processing facility that pays sorters above the local wage—certainly not an amount that you or I would want to live on, but, with lunch facilities, breaks, and opportunities for advancement. And, in keeping with the principles of fairness and transparency that are central to Fair Trade, you can go to visit these facilities and see the systems flaws firsthand, as well as see the beginning stages of success for farmer cooperatives who are getting a fair price for their coffee as well as a social premium, which they are using in their communities to build schools, clinics and the institutions that they see are lacking. This is not to say the some success balances out all possible flaws, but it is a sign that change is possible.

    We know that these are just stepping stones towards a more just form of coffee trade at every step of the process. It is possible to find many holes in the large trade network that brings the coffee to your cup, from the people that lump the coffee off of boats in New Jersey, to full-time baristas without healthcare benefits, etc. No system will ever be perfect but, bit by bit, if we work together we can make a change.

  3. I’d like to reinterate one point that Mel made above – as far as I know ALL coffee coming into the United States is hand-sorted in this way by women. I have never seen a male in one of these positions and we’ve been told it’s because women’s fingers are more dexterous.
    We (roaster-members of Cooperatives Coffees) always make a point to ask how the women are treated and what they are paid. We encourage processing facilities to raise the standards for these workers every chance we get.
    This is the way we’ll make change in the system – through education, dialogue and reasonable negotiation. Very little gets accomplised through ill-informed accusations. Sorry Cybrspin, but Peace Coffee doesn’t deserve this unjustified attack.
    Your energies would be better spent helping us to change this obviously very flawed system.

  4. Yes! Finally something about difference between coffee espresso.

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