Fair Trade vs Direct Trade?

To mark World Fair Day, on the 8th May, I spoke with Green Coffee Merchant, Sam Langdon about Direct Trade- an alternative method to trading. 

Many of us know and buy Fair Trade produce, Fair Trade markets itself at gaining ‘better prices, decent working conditions and local sustainability’. But how does that actually work out when it specialty roasting like Yorks Café.

Instead of Fair Trade produce we use the supplier Sucafina, who use the ethical framework of direct trade over Fair Trade.

Sucafina’s core values are; Global Network, Local teams, Focused Innovation and Shared Values. I spoke with Green Coffee Merchant, Sam Langdon to unpack Sucafina’s ethical and sustainability stance. Sucafina work and support Fair Trade produce, however it's more so the case that the specialty branch works outside Fair Trade as the higher premiums tend to incentivise quality production in a way that Fair Trade often can’t. 

Sam described the Fair Trade vs Direct Trade as ‘two different solutions to two different problems’. Whilst Fair Trade as $1.60 per pound as a flat rate whereas Direct Traders are willing to increase prices even double them for a higher quality coffee.

Direct Trade as the name suggests is also more direct that fair trade. Direct coffee comes from one washing station or farm- all the coffee in a sack is from the same farmer. Whereas Fair Trade coffee could be made up of hundreds of farmers produce.

Sam describes Sucafina’s direct trade as “More Quality, More Ethics”. As they are directly involved and on the ground supporting there coffee farmers. For example the work done in Burundi. Sucafina support the farmers on the ground, not only by making sure they are paid a decent price for their produce but also supporting their ability to produce and grow coffee cherries and to be able to trade locally and further afield.

You can buy either the single origin Burundi Espresso or try it in our New Blend ‘Soul in the Machine’ with a Guatemalan Roast.

A new and exciting venture is the Farmer Connect app launched by Sucafina. It allows completer transparency, allowing you to track the your coffee from bean to cup.