Most anyone involved in the fair trade coffee movement can tell you that dectractors of fair trade often argue that the quality of fair trade coffees aren’t on par with micro-lots (small amounts of coffee purchased from one farmer) or ‘Cup of Excellence’ coffees. This is illogical for several reasons. First, the fair trade system provides guidelines for trading relationships between buyers in the Global North and disenfranchised farmers/artisans in the Global South. It does not dictate how farmers should grow coffee. Most small family coffee farmers have been farming for generations and they know more than most industry professionals give them credit for. In fact, it’s been our experience that small family farmers, whose livelihoods are dependent upon the fruits of their land, are the most in tune with the needs of the soil, the results of climatic change on their region, and the overall health of their coffee trees and family gardens. This is true for small family farmers here in the States as well as Jesus Rodrigo Yatacue, a farmer and socio of Fondo Paez coffee co-op from the Cauca region of Colombia. Second, instituting a floor price for coffee and other products does not result in mediocre quality. This argument – often posed by opponents of fair trade – is equivalent to saying that the institution of a minimum wage in the States is directly related to the quality of labor of a person. It’s not a fair assessment, nor a correct one.
On to the point of this blog entry . . . it’s always exciting when one of our partner farming co-ops receive due credit. This past month, Ken David’s popular Coffee Review offered up a round of cuppings of Colombia single origins. Coffee from our partners at Fondo Paez was at the VERY TOP OF THE LIST with a 95 score (beating out several well-known micro-lots)! Kickapoo Roasters – a new member of the Cooperative Coffees importing co-op – did the roasting artistry. Kickapoo was founded by TJ & Denise Semanchin and Caleb Nichols. TJ Semanchin was once roaster extraordinaire at Peace Coffee, another company that recently made waves in the world of quality coffee when their head roaster – Keith – headed up the winning roasting team at last year’s Roasters Guild annual gathering.
Congratulations to Kickapoo and Fondo Paez!
Here’s the Coffee Review Report:
Reviewed: February 2008
Overall Rating: 95 points
|Origin: Fondo Paez Cooperative, Valle de Cauca Department, western Colombia.Notes: This coffee is certified organically grown. Although the words “Fair Trade” appear as well on the label of the attractive 12-ounce valve-topped can, the trade-marked seal of TransFair USA, the sole American certifier for the Fair-trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO), does not. Fondo Paez is a cooperative of 550 farmers from the indigenous Paez people of central Colombia. Kickapoo Coffee is a Wisconsin micro-roaster devoted to organic and fair-trade principles and coffees. Visit www.kickapoocoffee.com or call 608-637-2022 for more information.Blind Assessment: Sweet-toned, delicately complex aroma: flowers, hints of honey, cedar and tart cherry, perhaps chocolate. In the cup very gently acidy, light in body but buoyant and silky in mouthfeel, and giddily floral- and honey-toned with complicating hints of chocolate, tart coffee fruit and Riesling-like white wine. Fades rather quickly in the finish but exquisitely clean with memories of chocolate and flowers. An exceptionally pure and balanced coffee.Who should drink it: A refined and refreshing coffee with great natural sweetness and balance. Avoid adding anything to it.|