We are committed to buying our products from suppliers and avoiding middlemen, because traditionally only about 10-20% of the profit of coffee goes to the farmer when he sells to his local brokers. As a result, the lifestyle of coffee farmers is endangered around the globe. Farming families often live a subsistence lifestyle and can't afford schooling or medical care.
When farmers can find markets in the USA or other "end consumer" regions where buyers will pay them direct the price they ask, farmers get all the profit and the difference is amazing. Children go to school and get medical care, and farming communities stabilize because the life of the farmer looks more attractive and children are less likely to head off to the cities for opportunity, where their lack of education and skills usually results in exploitation.
Fair Trade does not accomplish the same results, as Fair Trade is based on a margin added to the broker price. The farmer still suffers and often lives in all-consuming debt. Only Direct Trade addresses the farmer's real needs.
We have campaigned for Direct Trade since our founding in 2005, and the noise we created seems to be helping bring about a sea change in the way buyers are seeing producers. Dozens of wonderful programs have opened up to empower farmers by improving their crops and methods and giving them access to major markets. Some of these programs are run by the large milling companies, who are beginning to realize (belatedly) that what is good for farmer communities is good for their own business. Others are run by third-party groups who make this their mission.
All told, the amount of coffee being purchased through Direct Trade has skyrocketed in the last two years, and it's beginning to have an impact of farming communities around the world. As we like to say, the USA/Canada coffee market is so big that if every North American coffee consumer had one cup of Direct Trade coffee a day, more than 10 million people around the globe would enjoy a better lifestyle, and millions of children would have a brighter future.
It's such an easy way to make a major difference in the world. Enjoy your cup of Direct Trade coffee from Len's Coffee today, and know that the smile it puts on your face is echoed somewhere in the coffee lands on a child's face.