Peoples Coffee

Rebrand Blog Title Image

You may have noticed that Peoples Coffee is looking a little different of late. Our rebrand has come full circle and we are now looking a little more poised, polished and professional.

We started debuting the revamped Peoples earlier this year, easing all of our wonderful supporters (and ourselves) into the pool one toe at a time and the feedback we had was so positive that we decided to just throw you all in head first!

The biggest question we had from people who were a little hesitant about the new look was ‘why’. Why change what was working just fine? Well we thought we’d really let you ALL in on the ‘why’, no holds barred, so I sat down with the founder of Daughter & Son and the mastermind behind our new look; Alice Lloyd, to ask the hard-hitting questions.

Alice _2

Alice Lloyd, founder of Daughter & Son and the woman responsible for the Peoples rebrand

How did the rebrand come about? 

I began talking to Peoples Coffee about rebranding a year and a half ago. They had been in business for 11 years and had seen other coffee companies move to fair trade and organic products, and they knew they needed to differentiate themselves. The things that had made them unique back in 2004; have now become more mainstream in the coffee industry. With customers appetite for ethical products and services over the 2000’s building, even large corporate brands like Starbucks have fair trade and organic ranges.

There is also a growing fatigue around ‘green-washed’ brands- brands that seem like they are organic/natural/ethical on the outside because of the picture of the farmer on the packaging, or the use of rustic, ‘hand-crafted’ typography and illustration. Often, without much digging, you find that one of these product lines is made by the same company that uses less ethical practices in other parts of their business.

Peoples Coffee can stand proud in the knowledge that they have championed ethical practice and sustainability as part of their way of doing things since the start, having become a fully fair trade accredited business (one of only two in New Zealand). They are also working directly with farmers at origin, which is a unique selling point. But they don’t need to stay tied to those clichéd green visual cues to communicate those things.

GROUP 3

Our new 100% compostable bags in our four colours

What was the driving force behind the rebrand?

A desire to tell the Peoples Coffee story in a new and compelling way. There are so many great things that Peoples Coffee do that their customers don’t even know about – yes, part of the price of a cup of their coffee goes to helping communities in the areas where their coffee is harvested, but they also do a lot locally – The Arohata Project for instance (giving inmates barista training so that they have transferable skills when they are released back into the community).

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The new branding represents ALL of what we do – including social initiatives like the Arohata Project

How did you become involved and what attracted you to the project?

I have worked with Peoples Coffee for a number of years and could see how their progressive vision didn’t quite match up with their previous brand aesthetic and way of communicating. Liv Doogue, the General Manager, was highly motivated to take the brand in a fresh direction, and that is always an exciting place to start.

Collaborating with her, members of the Peoples Coffee board (namely Paul Soong), writer Glen Puklowski and designer Lisa Nicole Moes, helped push the brand in a direction that sets Peoples Coffee apart, both strategically and aesthetically.

Lauren Coffee

The Fashinii is one of our social enterprise blends designed to support special projects

Was the old branding a consideration in the development of the new branding – if so, how and what aspects have remained?

Yes, it was. When a brand has such a rich foundation like Peoples Coffee, it doesn’t make sense to wipe the slate clean and start again (strategically or aesthetically). Peoples Coffee have set themselves apart strategically by being socially driven – they will continue to produce exceptional coffee while working closely with people at coffee origin and closer to home.

We wanted to take the brand in a new direction aesthetically for the reasons I mentioned previously. Part of the rebrand exercise was establishing the character of the brand and how that translates visually. As a very egalitarian company, the ‘Everyman’ archetype rang true. And being a business that prides itself on ‘giving back’, doing an elaborate, flashy redesign did not feel right.

This led to a fairly utilitarian aesthetic – simple yet considered typography, a range of colours that can be used to create different moods and a new logo that hints at the original crest design, but is executed in a more modern way. Photography for Peoples Coffee has always had an authenticity about it, these are genuine ‘Peoples People’ doing their thing. We will continue to tell their stories and make that connection between those at coffee origin and those serving or drinking Peoples Coffee stronger.

Old vs New

Old versus new – keeping the crest was an important nod to our history.

Peoples Coffee Fonts and Colours

Simple yet considered typography and a range of colours that can be used to create different moods.

What were you inspired by when dreaming up ideas for the new look?

Keeping this idea of utilitarianism and ‘the Everyman’ in the back of out heads meant we drew inspiration from other benchmark brands that meet that criteria. Levi’s is a classic Everyman brand and the way they retain their original values while remaining modern and relevant was inspiring. Converse is another. Then there are the ethical brands that don’t subscribe to the ‘green design’ aesthetic such as Freitag.

When it came to picking typefaces, designing icons or choosing materials for signage, the idea that ‘form follows function’ was key. For example, simple, practical (utilitarian) materials were employed in the building of the Peoples Coffee exhibition stand, materials such as pegboard and plywood, as elaborate, frivolous decoration wouldn’t have felt right.

Jamie Apron

Utilitarian designs were utilised throughout the process – especially for our mobile coffee stands and aprons

What do you love about Peoples Coffee?

I love that I get to work with a truly progressive, socially driven company that puts its ethics at the heart of its business. They show that being motivated by something other than profit, can still result in being sustainable. It is a model that I wish more companies embraced because you can feel a sea-change happening currently; consumers want transparency.

I also love the fact that they didn’t shun me when I said that I drank decaf! (Their Decaf Peru Piura is pretty darn good).

How does the new branding represent the culture at Peoples Coffee?

‘People for the common great’ is what we established represents Peoples Coffee’s culture best and this will be one of their mantra’s going forward. They are a dedicated, passionate bunch who are striving for excellence.

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‘People for the Common Great’ – because we want to be more than just good.

What is your favourite thing about the new look?

It is the kitset of elements that we have to play with – a fresh colour palette, interesting typefaces, patterns, and a way of communicating that is uniquely ‘Peoples’.

What would you say to people who think the new branding has ditched it’s ‘rootsy’ look in favour of a cosmetic upgrade?

Well I hope after reading this, they can see that the rebrand exercise wasn’t just a cosmetic upgrade. It was more about uniting Peoples Coffee’s progressive ideals with a more progressive look.

Peoples Peoples Collage


June 15th, 2016


Posted In: Auckland, Branding, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Constable Street, Fair trade, Organic, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Uncategorized, Wellington

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Pinaman Owusu-Banahene is kind of amazing, she is the founder of social enterprise ADJOAA (Africa Design Journey through AustralAsia) the brains (and brawn) behind Wellington’s first ever Africa Fashion Festival and is (aptly) perhaps the most fashionable person I have ever met.

I sat down with Pinaman last week at our Constable Street café to talk about her long-gestating vision for Africa Fashion Festival FINALLY coming to fruition, what she’s most excited about and why the festival is about so much more than beautiful clothing. We also got to tasting some of the bespoke ‘Fashinii’ blend that Peoples Coffee has crafted to support the festival!

Pinaman Owusu-Banahene – founder of ADJOAA and the Africa Fashion Festival

The Festival

Here’s the lowdown – designed to help promote and celebrate African designers the Africa Fashion Festival is ‘an opportunity to experience the richness and vibrancy of African culture through fashion and other art forms’. From the out-set Pinaman wanted to create a platform that celebrated not only established and emerging African artists but also the heritage of the continent and the traditional techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Six esteemed international designers will be showing at the festival as well as two local emerging talents.

The festival is also about giving back. A percentage of ticket sales has been earmarked for the establishment of three key social initiatives for young Africans in New Zealand as well as a fund for social projects on the ground in African communities.

Ghanaia-made Luxury Footwear from sisters Nana & Afua Dabanka for MONAA 

What to Expect

Pinaman has curated an experience that speaks to the heart of the festival at every turn. She has bought together an exceptional group of designers including Nana Brenu, Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud and Nana & Afua Dabanka showing collections ranging from dresses and accessories (handcrafted raffia bags and sustainable wooden eyewear) to men’s wear and stunning hand-made leather shoes.

Attendees will be treated to a showcase of local and ethical products on arrival from Peoples Coffee and Wellington Chocolate Factory to the The Body Shop, Good Buzz, Karma Cola and more. On top of all this there will be a whole range of surprises throughout the evening!

Patterns, prints and colour for men from Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud for LaurenceAirline

Pastels and androgyny from Nana Brenu for Studio 1981

Eco-Luxury Wooden Sunglasses from Nana Osei Boateng for Bohten

Why We’re Involved

When we first met Pinaman we were struck by her enthusiasm – she was so excited to bring the festival to life that you couldn’t help but get excited too, it was infectious. Behind that however was a driving passion to use art to create change.

Pinaman has put all of herself to use in this venture; her knowledge and love of the fashion industry, her prowess as an event manager, her years studying Public Policy and her own personal experiences as an African woman.

The Fashinii is one of our social enterprise blends designed to support special projects

Help Us Help the Festival

Peoples Coffee have developed a bespoke blend specially for the festival; the Fashinii blend.

Meaning ‘fashion’ in the Ethiopian language of Oromo, the Fashinii is a two-bean blend from the Ethiopian regions of Guji and Sidamo with fruity nuances of cranberry and mandarin.

$2.00 from the sale of each bag will go directly to the Festival’s Social Enterprise fund. You can purchase the Fashinii from our online store or at our Flagship cafe in Newtown.

Our Nitro Cold Brew – Fashinii style

We’re incredibly proud to be involved in Wellington’s first Africa Fashion Festival. We’ll be pulling pours of our world famous Nitro (made with the Fashinii blend) for all those lucky enough to have snagged a ticket. There are a VERY limited number of student and GA tickets still available HERE – but get in quick as they won’t last long!

What: Africa Fashion Festival 2016
Where: James Smith Arcade, Cnr Cuba and Manners Streets
When: Saturday 28 May

– Jesse F


May 24th, 2016


Posted In: Africa, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Ethiopia, Fair trade, Nitro, Organic, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Sustainable, Wellington

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Every 6 months or so the argument surrounding ‘The Price of a Cup of Coffee’ rears it’s ugly head. I can understand why – it pairs two of my very favourite things; coffee and lamenting the fact that it would be foolish to spend my entire paycheque on the stuff. But when we saw *yet another* news paper article outlining why ‘coffee these days is a rip-off’ we decided to use the opportunity to talk more positively about our own story and how, increasingly, personal buying power is determining what constitutes ‘expensive’.

Coffee is a powerful commodity. There is a reason that it is often referred to as ‘black gold’. The women and men at Origin work punishingly long hours planting, cultivating, growing, picking, washing, drying, sorting, preparing and transporting beans for a financial return that often does not reflect production costs. Add to this the world’s increasing demand for high-end ‘specialty’ coffee which requires a massive amount of resources for a comparatively low yield and you begin to understand how difficult it is for a farmer and their family to achieve a good quality of life.

Quality control at the OROMIA coop in Ethiopia – done by hand

Comparing a $3.00 cup of coffee and a $4.50 cup of fair trade, organic coffee is like comparing apples with oranges, sure they’re both fruit but they’re completely different. Let’s say cheap coffee is apples – the right apple is tasty, juicy and just what you want but it’s not an orange and it’s not pretending to be an orange. A cheap coffee, when it’s good, is everything it’s supposed to be and nothing more and that is perfectly fine. But if you want an orange, an apple simply won’t suffice.

New Zealanders are using their buying power more proactively than ever before and for those people who want their morning flat white to count for more, we offer an alternative.

We pay more than most for our Green Beans

We only buy high quality fair trade beans. Why? Primarily because the very best thing about fair trade are the social premiums they provide. We buy every kilo of our coffee over and above the fair trade minimum and approximately $1.32 NZ of that goes directly toward social projects within the co-op. It is earmarked specifically for that purpose and helps improve education, rights for women, infrastructure, healthcare and much more. 

We only source organic beans. Why? Because chemical run-off from non-organic farms is permanently damaging local ecosystems and adversely affecting the health of farmers and their families. Farmers are also rewarded an additional social premium for organic certified beans.

Our head roaster Rene on one of his Origin trips

We only use organic milk. Why? Because it’s better for you and for the animals who produce it and we would rather support independent, sustainable milk producers. It is also sweeter and creamier and compliments coffee so much more than conventional milk.

We only use compostable packaging and cups. Why? Well because the environment is pretty messed up and we owe it to future generations to try and turn things around.

Latte art at Constable Street

When you buy a cup of Peoples Coffee these are just some of the things you are supporting:

At Home
Barista Training at Arohata Women’s Prison
Youth Barista Training at Zeal
Food Hero Rescue at Kaibosh
A whole host of underfunded organisations

At Origin
Campaigns to protect the rights of indigenous farmers
The construction of schools, hospitals, clinics, wells and more
The funding of scholarships and the prioritisation of increased access to education for women

Perfect shots at our flagship cafe in Newtown

At our Constable Street flagship cafe we charge $4.00 for a black coffee and $4.50 for a regular white coffee. We charge an additional 20c for takeaway coffees (unless you have a keep-cup). These prices reflect the reality of what it costs for us to produce a cup of fair trade, organic coffee with a conscience. If we charged less we would be unable to increase the quality of life for our farmers, pay our staff above average wages, use organic milk, give over 500kg’s of coffee away to local groups every year and, in short, we would be unable to do everything that make us who we are.

More than good – people for the common GREAT

So yes, our coffee could certainly be considered expensive. But for our customers the price is worth it when you consider how powerful that cup of coffee can be and at the end of the day it is up to the consumer to decide how to use their dollar.

Buy Coffee. Get Change.

– Jesse F


April 7th, 2016


Posted In: Africa, Auckland, Cafes, CBD, Certifications, Coffee, Constable Street, Cooperatives, Ethiopia, Fair trade, Milk, Organic, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Trips, Uncategorized, Wellington

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Our four contendors: Goats Milk, Oat Milk, Coconut Milk, Zero Lacto Milk

The milk blog has become something of a Peoples Coffee tradition. Last year we did a little blog featuring milk alternatives (Almond, Hazelnut, Rice & Soy) and how they stacked up when paired with our coffee and before that we smashed out some flat whites with a range of organic and off-the-beaten-track milks in ‘Honour the Cow’.

Turns out you guys have a LOT to say about milk – 12 months on we’re still getting a steady flow of comments, so we thought we’d do a bit of a follow-up and test out some your suggestions!

We set aside a morning in the cupping room and set Robbie, Rene and Jamie the unenviable task of making flat whites with Lactose Free milk, Oat milk, Coconut milk and Goats milk.

Zero Lacto: Easy to work withRobbie give the Zero Lacto a taste test

Robbie gives the Zero-Lacto a taste test

First up was Anchor’s Zero Lacto milk which they proclaim to be ‘tummy friendly’. The first thing we noticed was how sweet the milk was. I did a little research and found that ‘removing lactose’ involves altering the chemical make-up of the lactose enzyme, splitting it into two smaller, more easily digestible sugars; glucose and galactose. Those sugars bind to the sweetness receptors on your tongue in a way that lactose does not – therefore a sweeter taste.

The milk was super easy to work with producing perfect microfoam and making latte art a dream. There was a definite reduction in sweetness when added to coffee but it also tasted quite thin, lacking the creamy quality of regular milk.

Stretching: 5/5
Taste: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

Oat Milk - AKA 'Porridge Milk'Jamie won't be making the switch to Oat Milk anytime soon

Jamie won’t be making the switch to Oat Milk anytime soon

Our second milky mimic was an Oat milk from the Vitasoy line. We use Vitasoy in our Constable Street cafe and so far as soy milk goes – it’s king, so we were interested to see if this mastery extended to their other products.

The answer was no – at least so far as coffee was concerned. Dubbed unceremoniously by Robbie as ‘Porridge Milk’ the Oat milk was rice-pudding with a slightly sour aftertaste. Once stretched it produced a tonne of foam and made for a very sweet and ultimately disappointing flat white.

Stretching: 2/5
Taste: 2/5
Overall: 2/5

Coconut Milk - not great with coffee but AWESOME on it's own!MRW all my Coconut milk hopes and dreams are crushed

MRW all my Coconut milk hopes and dreams are crushed

Contender numero three was a gorgeously packaged Coconut Drinking Milk from Little Island. Robbie was especially excited about this one – he was chomping at the bit to get a taste and was already planning a line of coconut beverages for our cafes.

It has to be said that the coconut milk was lovely cold. Light, refreshing and not overpowering in sweetness. The milk did not stretch particularly well, separating easily and holding the bulk of it’s sweetness in the foam. Opinions were varied on it’s suitability with coffee – Jamie and Robbie were unimpressed whilst myself and Rene weren’t so critical.

So low scores for coffee potential but Jamie did make a killer coconut hot chocolate with it later in the day.

Stretching: 2/5
Taste: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5


The infamous Goats milk flat whiteRene give the steamed Goats milk a sniffThe taste of the Goats milk flat white was too much for Rene

It’s all in the expression…

We saved the most interesting milk for last – a Goats Milk from Living Planet. Goat, in any form, is always a rather dividing flavour, it has a reputation for being strong and distinctive – not exactly the qualities you’re looking for to showcase the subtle flavours of coffee. But ‘why not?’ we thought.

We thought wrong. Whilst I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who swear by goats milk I can tell you that we are not among them. The milk had a very distinctive feta flavour than only intensified with stretching. It was salty and, as Rene so graciously put it; ‘tasted like socks’. Honestly the very thought of that cheesy, gamey flavour is making me dry retch a little.

In it’s defence it stretched OK but nothing will convince me to go back for seconds.

Stretching: 3/5
Taste: 0/5
Overall: 2/5

Rene looked like this for a good long while after the Goats milk flat white

Rene looked like this for a good long while after the Goats milk flat white

And there you have it. We’d loved to have tried out a recent addition to the milk scene ‘Jersey Milk’ and the vastly popular ‘Cashew Milk’ but alas, there is only so much one can do in a single blog.

We’d love to know what you think – did we get it wrong? Did we miss something out? What milk alternative do you swear by?

– Jesse F


February 23rd, 2016


Posted In: Coffee, Fair trade, Milk, Organic

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Kaibosh have a vision: Zero Food Poverty. Zero Food Waste.

It’s simplicity belies the true nature of the work that goes into achieving such a bold campaign, New Zealanders throw away over 122,547 tonnes of food a year, but Kaibosh are equal to the task.

Fresh Broccoli from the Newtown Farmers Market

Founded in 2008 Kaibosh and it’s team of over 100 volunteers ‘rescue’ food from Wellington businesses and provide it to community groups and charities that support people in need.

In the last 12 months they have provided 139,575 kilograms of food (that’s the size of a blue whale) from 31 businesses to 32 local community groups and charities.

Kaibosh by the numbers

The businesses involved are wide ranging; from supermarket behemoth Countdown and food-to-go experts Wishbone to smaller outfits such as Wooden Spoon Boutique Freezery and Astoria Cafe. Check out the full list here.

Newtown and Harbourside Farmers Markets make invaluable contributions over the weekend – ensuring a large supply of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and vege from the Farmers Markets is an invaluable contribution

Food is collected by the Kaibosh drivers and taken back to HQ (one in the central city and a newly opened hub in Lower Hutt) where it is sorted by volunteers – the game is simple; if YOU would eat it, keep it. If you wouldn’t, throw it in the compost.

We want people to open up their food box and be really happy to find great, fresh food – for it to really brighten their day’ says Driver and Fundraiser Ryan O’Connell of the sorting process.

As well as composting the team send any food that doesn’t make the grade along to Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary for their animal feed.

Happy pig – one recipient of Black Sheep Animal Sanctuary’s animal feed

Recently Kaibosh have teamed up with some like-minded businesses to create the Food Rescue Heroes initiative. Becoming a Hero is as easy as donating from $15 per month to Kaibosh – in return you get a Food Rescue Heroes card with awesome deals all round Wellington, a welcome pack from Peoples Coffee, Wellington Chocolate Factory & Ideal Cup plus invitations to Food Rescue Heroes evenings at Kaibosh HQ.

One of the Food Rescue Heroes Welcome Packs

If you’d like to know more about becoming a Food Rescue Hero or getting involved with Kaibosh, jump onto the Kaibosh website and grab the lowdown.

– Jesse F


February 12th, 2016


Posted In: CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Sustainable, Wellington

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Vic Books is an institution for anyone who has toiled their way through a degree from Victoria University. They are the difference between an enjoyable, thought provoking lecture or a one and a half hour nap session. They are the life blood of the student body (OK so I might be laying it on a bit thick there but you get the idea – they are AWESOME!).

Two hot chocolates please!

Peoples are super proud to be a part of the Vic Books story and so we thought we’d give you all a little update on what they’ve been up to and where they’re going.

Vic Books Manager and all-round good-guy Lars Bringzen

For those of you who haven’t experienced Vic Books here’s the deal: Located in the thick of Victoria Universities Kelburn Campus, Vic Books smashes out over 2000 cups of Peoples Coffee a week. They pride themselves on having a sustainable approach to business and from their inception have partnered with like-minded entities such as Zany Zeus, Karma Cola, Trade Aid, Peoples and more.

Our trainer James kicking at the Vic Books kiosk in the Hub

Vic Books has been KILLING IT over the last few years under the guidance of General Manager Lars Bringzen, opening takeaway coffee kiosk’s in the Hub and Pipitea Campus’ Rutherford House, the latter a little preview of what’s to come when the dust settles on this under-construction campus.

A glimpse of what the new Pipitea Campus will look like once finished

Throughout 2015 and ’16 the Business School hub is undergoing a massive facelift; a full redesign of the existing structures, an eight story addition and at the centre of it all a new and improved Vic Books Pipitea.

Right now the site is under lock and key; a hundred and one tradesmen guard the entrances with pick-axes and eye-wateringly orange vests BUT we will be bringing you a little insiders look quite soon.

Some little gift bags from a recent Peoples Coffee event at Vic Books

Our training session ‘Coffee One-oh-One’ in action

Until then keep an eye out for some exciting events, giveaways and other cool things at Vic Books Kelburn. We’ll be bringing back our popular ‘Coffee One-oh-One’ training sessions in the next month and rumour has it there is a cheeky little Cold Flat White giveaway coming up…

Go Vic Books  – you guys rock!

 

– Jesse F


January 28th, 2016


Posted In: Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Sustainability, Sustainable, Wellington

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It’s a new year! And there are VERY exciting things afoot (putting aside the mildly terrifying fact that I turn 26 this year and so am officially an adult *sigh*).

The first of these very-exciting-things is our Constable Street Peanut Butter Takeover, the brain-child of our brilliant cafe manager Patrick and the team at Fix & Fogg.

Smooth – w. Moutere Gold raspberry jam + basil

The Takeover places peanut butter in the spotlight – irrevocably cementing it as THE taste sensation of 2016.

There are four excellent combinations – each made with the freshest local produce and featuring some of Wellington and New Zealand’s very best culinary whizz-kids.

Dark Chocolate – w. Fairtrade banana + Zany Zeus mascarpone

For those of you with a sweet tooth we have: ‘Dark Chocolate’ with Fairtrade banana & Zany Zeus mascarpone and ‘Smooth’ with Moutere Gold raspberry jam and fresh basil.

If you haven’t tried ZZ’s mascarpone before we HIGHLY recommend you do – 100% organic, light and lip-smackingly creamy.

Smoke & Fire – w. shaved cucumber + chipotle hot sauce

I myself favour savoury when it comes to a snack – so for all of you like me there is: ‘Smoke & Fire’ with shaved cucumber & chipotle hot sauce and ‘Crunchy’ with Kruegermann gherkin and Zany Zeus feta.

All of the options are served on Best Ugly ‘Montreal style’ bagels. In contrast to the classic New York style bagel the Montreal is smaller, thinner, sweeter and denser, with a larger hole and is boiled in honey-sweetened water before being baked.

Crunchy – w. Kruegermann gherkin + Zany Zeus feta

I stopped by the cafe earlier this week to experience the takeover for myself. My personal favourite was the ‘Smoke & Fire’. True to it’s name it was HELLA smokey with chilled cucumber sliced into gorgeous ribbons so thin you could see right through them – yum. I’ll probably be back tomorrow for the Dark Chocolate, it is haunting my day-dreams…

Jesse (me) tucking into the ‘Smoke & Fire’

At this stage the Takeover is running through until the end of this week (Sunday 17 January) so get in while you still can – it’s worth the trip!

– Jesse F


January 12th, 2016


Posted In: Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Constable Street, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Wellington

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IMG_9423

2015 has been absolutely mental – we’ve gone from strength to strength and honestly we’re all pretty exhausted! Time for one more quick blog though – we thought ‘Peoples Coffee in Numbers’ was a fun way to end the year.

We were blown away by some of the facts and figures we unearthed, the number of flat whites we made at the Constable Street store was especially staggering. To make it exciting we’ve put everything into this awesome infographic because, let’s be honest, stats can be a little dull…

PC by Numbers

All in all a pretty successful year we think.

Time for a rest and some recuperation (and a couple of sneaky beersies) and then we’ll be ready to take on 2016!

Merry Christmas from all of us, stay safe and happy and we’ll see you all on the flip side 🙂

– Jesse F


December 23rd, 2015


Posted In: Auckland, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Constable Street, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Social projects, Sustainability, Wellington

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Two weeks ago I embarked on a little trip up to Auckland to visit Liv and Josephine and check out some of the awesome spots now serving Peoples Coffee in the city of sails (I also MAY have seen Fleetwood Mac live in concert but that’s neither here nor there…).

Liv picked myself and our awesome photographer Renee up from Britomart (Renee and I having made the rather poor decision to take the overnight bus from Wellington) and took us on a whirlwind tour – first stop Cake & Co. on Ponsonby Road.

Jackie makes a pretty mean flat white

Cake and Co. is a cosy little nook specialising in (you guessed it) cakes! Stunningly presented, absolutely delicious cakes. Owner Jackie takes pride in using only the best natural ingredients; unrefined sugars, free range eggs from happy chooks, natural colours and flavours, spelt, rye and wholemeal flours along with her own special blend of gluten free flour.

Coffee comes served with dainty mini-cupcakes in all kinds of flavours and the place has a really great vibe – children and dogs being equally welcome.

Watching the world go by

After much cooing over several puppies, we eventually departed, refuelled and ready for our next destination: Fort Greene in St Kevin’s Arcade.

Tucked away in St. Kevin’s Arcade off of K Road – Fort Greene are the Sandwich KINGS

St Kevin’s is Fort Greene’s new home and it is looking PRETTY swish, a cool new fit-out with an upstairs loft giving the spot a homely and relaxed feel. Owners (and culinary whizzes) Andrea and Liam are making a name for themselves as Auckland’s ‘Sandwich Kings’ with their totally homemade, epic sandwiches built from the ground up, starting with the bread.

We HIGHLY recommend ‘The Fish One’ – hand made house-smoked kahawai fish fingers, mushy peas, tartare and snow pea shoots served warm to order on house made bread *drools*.

Dynamic duo Liam and Andrea – the heart and soul of Fort Greene

The next stop on our cafe crawl was the lovely Florentines Tea Room in Epson. This locals secret has been serving Peoples for a few years now – our very first Auckland foray.

Florentines has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating

Florentines is a gorgeous, eclectic spot with a real ‘old-hollywood-meets-english-countryside’ aesthetic – crystal chandeliers and ornate gilded mirrors sitting comfortably next to hand-knitted throw cushions and china tea sets. They boast a fantastic selection of cabinet food including their famed chicken & avocado club sandwiches as well as a small but lovely all-day breakfast menu.

The place was PACKED when we visited – poor Renee was in the way for pretty much every single photograph she took but no-one seemed to mind, the diverse crowd shimmying this way and that to accommodate!

Scones, muffins, macaroons – a sweet tooth’s paradise

Then is was back to the city to visit the new and improved Scarecrow – an artisan grocer, kitchen and florist occupying a stunning new spot on Victoria Street East.

Maya Inca – our latest seasonal blend

Scarecrow have recently moved back in to this corner after giving it a brilliant re-furb and the place glows. Huge bouquets of flowers adorn every shelf, white globes of light hang suspended from the roof and the smells of baked bread and fresh ground coffee are delightful. The artisan grocer is retailing a varying selection of People’s best blends and single origins for home espresso and brewing.

They also do a great breakfast – but be sure to get in early, the spot was chocka-block when we arrived around midday, barely room to swing a cat!

Scarecrows new fit-out is absolutely on-point

We unfortunately didn’t quite have time to pop in to the fantastic Urchin & Amber on Vulcan Lane. I was lucky enough to sample their gorgeous menu and write a blog about them last time I was in the big city and had been keen to lay my hands on some more of their exceptional Green Bean, Sesame and Chilli Salad but alas, not this time around.

Jaime from Urchin & Amber

Storm clouds were moving in and we had a concert to catch – time to Go Our Own Way(s). Until next time Auckland, you always turn on the best weather for me – and by best I mean thunder and pouring rain – ciao!

– Jesse F

Photography by Renee Cotton Media


December 11th, 2015


Posted In: Auckland, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Trips, Uncategorized

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We’ve got a secret. It’s a matter of some excitement and we’re PRETTY amped that we’re finally able to share the news…

This weekend we will be debuting the gorgeous, limited edition, Mish Mash – a Mocha Porter beer we’ve been lucky enough to work on with the Wellington Chocolate Factory and the awesome folk down at Garage Project!

The brew is a one-night-only tipple that has been created specially to celebrate The Free Store‘s 1st Annual fundraiser down at Southern Cross this Sunday.

Quite the formidable team…

Using Peoples Coffee’s darkest roast blend; the Sebastiana Martinez and Dominican Cocoa Nibs from Wellington Chocolate Factory, Garage Project have crafted a bitter-sweet chocolate coffee brew with more kick than you can shake a stick (at).

Our darkest roast is named after a Peoples Coffee legend

Pete Gillespie – now THAT is a beard

To be quite honest my knowledge of the beer brewing process is woefully uninformed so, in order to write this blog, I sat in with Garage Projects Head Brewer (and all-round legend) Pete Gillespie and learnt all about the incredibly involved craft, much of which is not at all unlike the coffee roasting and cupping process.

Two grain varietals – two very different flavour profiles

Step 1: Pick a grain. Grain is ground to an oaty porridge-like consistency above the brewery and piped through to the mash tun, a very big silver goliath which is part of the main brew kit.

Step 2: Mash and Wort. Water is then added to the dry grain to create a mash which is eventually drained to produce what is called the Wort – a sticky sweet liquid that becomes the base of our beer.

Now because we are brewing a small batch beer, the Garage Project team use a smaller brew kit called the Pilot Kit (or ‘Brew Magic’) for the next step in the process. The Pilot Kit is capable of 50 litre brews and was the ORIGINAL Garage brew kit, so it has quite the legacy!

Capturing the Wort run-off

It can be a messy process!

Step 3: Boil time. Now it’s time to get our wort nice and hot (to get rid of any nasties). Sanitisation is one of the most important parts of the brewing process as nasties can destroy an otherwise perfect brew.

Step 4: Adding your hops. Once the wort is at a rolling boil it’s time to add your hops. Our brew only has a small amount of hops in it, just enough to give it a good base. The brew is then boiled for a further 60 minutes. There are many types of hops and other ingredients that can be added at this point; bittering hops, flavouring & aromatic hops, spices and sugar – it all depends on the kind of flavours you want to create.

Step 5: Chill it. The brew is now bought right down in temperature. This is done quite quickly to ensure a good ‘cold break’ which helps with the clarity of the finished product.

Some hops for bitterness and base

Step 6: Fermentaion station. Once the brew has been cooled to around 22 degrees it is transferred over to the fermenter where yeast is carefully added. The brew will begin to ferment 8 – 24 hours after the yeast is added, the length of the fermentation process is dependant on the beer you are trying to craft – ours took around 14 days.

Step 7: Steeping. Now we add the tasty bits! Our Sebastiana and the Chocolate Factory cocoa nibs were placed in muslin cloth and steeped in the fermented brew for some time to allow the flavours to infuse. Much like tea.

Step 8: That’s it! The brew is then essentially done. It is cooled, kegged (or bottled) and ready to drink!

Time for a taste

A huge thanks to the exceptional Benjamin Johnson from The Free Store for asking us to be involved and to Garage Project for doing all the hard work! We are always stoked to be able to work with such brilliant crafters and the Garage & WCF crews are up there with the very best.

Benjamin from the Free Store

The Free Store have organised what is shaping up to be truly the coolest fundraising event you’ve ever seen. According to the Facebook invite I received you’ll need to ‘brace yourself for ear-tingling, foot-stomping musical goodness (from local bands including Miles Calder & the Rumours, Graeme James, Towers and more) and brush up your quizzical skills to take home an epic prize pack’.

Plus of course there’s this fantastic beer AND it’s all for an amazing cause – so theres no excuses for you all not to come along. More details can be found on the event page but the essentials are thus:

Where? Southern Cross
When? 2.30pm Sunday 29 November
Why? To raise money for an awesome cause (and because live music, cool art and epic beer is not to be sniffed at)

See you there!

Jesse F

Photography by Renee Cotton Media


November 25th, 2015


Posted In: Beer, Brewing, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, peoplespeople, Wellington

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Today I met with Tabby Besley, founder of youth organisation InsideOUT, to talk about their charity exhibition at Matchbox Studios. Some of you might recognise Tabby – she was recently the first (and so far only) New Zealander to be awarded a Queens Young Leader Award for her work with queer youth (she even made a BuzzFeed list of 28 Badass Young People Making The World A Better Place).

InsideOUT are a pretty amazing organisation – they work with youth, whānau, schools and communities to make Aotearoa a safer place for all young people of diverse genders and sexualities to live and be in. Set-up in 2011, the organisation is run almost exclusively by youth volunteers who work tirelessly to lower rates of homophobic, biphoic and transphobic bullying in schools through initiatives like The Day of Silence and Pink Shirt Day (amongst a host of other projects).

InsideOUT aren’t government funded so they’re getting creative with a charity exhibition and auction at Matchbox Studios on Cuba Street this week. More than 40 artists and craftspeople have contributed a wide range of artworks – including paintings, jewellery, sculpture and photographs – and they have been priced to be as affordable as possible with prices ranging from $20 to $400. The artwork is available for purchase from Matchbox throughout the week with the auction kicking off at 6pm on Friday.

The auction is free to attend and anyone can bid. There will be a raffle drawn on the evening with some awesome prizes from local businesses (including some tasty Peoples Coffee!). Tickets for the raffle are only $2 and are available all week and on the night from Matchbox.

Both Tabby and event organiser Vicky Beesley have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone involved – neither expected to have so many pieces donated (in fact, even as we talked another piece arrived).

With 300 people ‘attending’ on Facebook the auction is shaping up to be a real success. Hopefully InsideOUT can raise a tonne of dough to continue to do the incredibly important work that they do. I know I’ll certainly be there on Friday – I’ve got my eye on a fox holding a balloon…see you there!

Jesse F


August 19th, 2015


Posted In: Activism, CBD, Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, Social projects, Uncategorized

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Last week I took a wee trip up to Auckland to visit Peoples Coffee superstar Josephine and check out Urchin & Amber, one of the first inner-city cafes in Auckland to be serving Peoples Coffee.

Now it has to be said – Wellingtonians are very different from Aucklanders. We are a bit more relaxed, a little more artsy and a whole lot more able to find a car-park within a 3km radius of our favourite inner-city cafe – so naturally Jo was running a touch late!

She flew through the door in a flurry of coffee beans, spreadsheets and effortless-cool and we ordered up a storm from our awesome waiter Jaime. We both went for the Panko Crumbed Fish Fingers with Tatare and Lemon and shared a Grilled Green Bean, Sesame & Chilli salad. Everything was mad tasty and the salad had a brilliant kick from the chilli.

Next up we (obviously) needed to sample the coffee, so Jo had head barista Amanda whip us up a killer flat white and long black.  Amanda is brilliant, a little ball of energy and enthusiasm with a lilting Brazilian accent that makes everything sound MUCH cooler and who never stops smiling!

Urchin and Amber’s decor is cool. It feels new and vintage at the same time, so I wasn’t at all surprised when I found out that it is housed in the oldest pub in Aukland (the building was built in 1858!?) Owner David Combs, of Vulcan Lane institution Vultures, is passionate about making Urchin a warm and relaxed place to be. From next week they will be serving brekkie and brunch through until 4pm, at which point Urchin will switch over to a gourmet fish & chips menu.

After chatting with the staff and a big ol’ meeting with Jo I decided to finish up my visit with one of Urchin’s freshly made super-juices. It was just what I needed to steel myself for the long walk down a very wet Queen Street to my hotel in a rather thin T shirt.

My trip to Auckland, whilst short, was sweet. It was great to see Urchin doing so well and to catch up with the lovely Josephine. It has been rumoured in the past that she lives INSIDE Skype but I now have proof otherwise. The more you know!

Jesse F


August 5th, 2015


Posted In: Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Fair trade, Trips, Uncategorized

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Blog Feature Image

Last week I went to prison.

No really! For a whole hour, to Arohata Womens Prison to sit in on the barista training that Peoples Coffee are offering for inmates. The training, now in it’s second year, is run by Lauren Tennent & Ashley Roper and is designed to provide real, transferable skills outside of the ‘traditional women’s work’ the prison offers.

On arrival myself and the rest of the media team were escorted down to the training room and introduced to the women who are taking part in the programme. The group were in high spirits throughout the visit (though one might suspect it was from the 4+ cups of coffee some of them had had!) and were eager to show us what they’d learnt. We all placed our orders and the ladies jumped to the task – delivering the coffees with surprising efficiency and big smiles. My flat white was great – nice and creamy with a strong finish!

  IMG_3283

After our caffeine fix we talked to group about the training – they said it was great to be able to learn new skills that could contribute to a new life when they were released. They were especially grateful to be able to have a cup of ‘real’ coffee as the prison only has instant available “things like good coffee are taken for granted, you don’t get anything like that in here and so to be able to have a cup is a real treat”.

Prison Director Chris Burns was enthusiastic about the project – “we’ve kept the sessions deliberately short so that the women can walk away with something tangible…you’ve only got to feel the vibe in the room to know the positive effect on them”. Arohata and Peoples are hoping to be able to run the programme again sometime next year as the feedback from both inmates and staff has been so positive.

I spoke briefly to one of the women about the course and she told me that the length of the courses was good because some of the inmates had difficulties concentrating for long periods of time “people have bad days and find it hard to be able to stay for a full day”. She said the short burst style of the course combined with the step-by-step process of the coffee-making made it easier for the group to stay focused.

After our chat we got to see the group graduate – all of the ladies were grinning from ear to ear. One of the inmates was particularly excited to show her certificate to her family – “my gran and my mum are really proud of me!”.

Coffee Making Close-up 1 Ashley

Overall I have to say my first trip to prison, whilst nothing like what I expected, was pretty great. I think its fantastic to see these women so eager to learn and grow. They are really hoping to be able to use these skills in the real world and I sincerely hope they get to.

Jesse F


July 24th, 2015


Posted In: Coffee, Collaboration, Fair trade, Social projects

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A Cooperative Meeting
Meeting with APODIP members in a small community which boasts many woman members who are involved in programs growing coffee, bee keeping and coffee roasting.

We’ve blogged before on our trading practices and business objectives, we’ve talked about the merits of various certifications, and we’ve shared stories of our relationships with the growing cooperatives that we buy from. Our kaupapa of ethical trade is the crux of our business, and the reason that Peoples Coffee exists. We’re constantly asking ourselves what it means to be a truly ethical coffee company, and we are always looking for opportunities to bring our customers and supporters in on that conversation.

Be Skeptical

You are right to be skeptical of brands claiming to be 100% ethical, we wouldn’t expect any less of you. It is true that ethical trading certifications can be subject to lots of different agendas, and sadly the reality is – there’s money in appearing to be fair (if you’re big enough). Being seen to be ethical secures access to a niche market, and there is a strong monetary incentive for brands to market their products as ethically sourced. This is fuelling growing distrust of those who claim the moral high-ground in coffee, and (yes we are biased) but we would advise consumers who are concerned about this to try and be as informed as possible about brands you interact with. So, in the interest of information and transparency, here is another soul-searching blog on what ‘ethical’ means when it comes to coffee.

The Invisible Hand

We partner with talented expert growers who provide us with high quality coffee. Unfortunately, people who rely on coffee as their main source of income have traditionally been subject to exploitative market realities. Peoples Coffee was born first and foremost out of a desire to contribute to increased justice for disadvantaged and exploited coffee growers.

A Family and their Coffee
Maria Rutilia, Olga Agelica Coc, Esperunza Pop, Sandeago Pop Ba , Sofia Ba (holding) Mina Coc Pop – Members of APODIP co-op in Chiquixji Guatemala.

Coffee is a raw commodity, and its market price is governed by the good old invisible hand. Since the end of the International Coffee Agreement in 1989, which regulated the price of coffee, its Wall Street price has wildly fluctuated, often dropping below the cost of production. Many families rely on coffee as their sole source of income, and the powerlessness that comes with this is the true tragedy of the coffee industry. We believe that what it means to be an ethical actor in the global coffee industry, whether fair trade certified or not, is an aim to assist and enable coffee growers to regain power over commodity chains, and to have the autonomy to participate in trade as equal partners.

Cracking Up
ASOBAGRI mill staff joking around with us while waiting for the next horse to arrive loaded with coffee to process.

How this is achieved is contested and controversial. Increasingly articles in the media challenge the principles and execution of fair trade (see Huffington Post, and The Guardian). And there are academic arguments to be made against elements of the fair trade system, notably the idea of cooptation: As more and more coffee producers look to become fair trade certified, international fair trade bodies need to find bigger and bigger markets for that certified coffee. These markets are becoming increasingly mainstream – meaning cooperating with large actors such as Nestle and Starbucks, who inevitably demand compromises and threaten to weaken the fair trade system as a whole. The way to challenge this, as we see it, is through the power of the specialty market: Small, dedicated coffee companies committing to ethical trade, and being completely accountable to their customers. We feel that the only way to be completely accountable is to provide the third-party assurance that is the WFTO label. However, importantly, our commitment to ethical trade does not end there.

 

What ‘Minimum’ Means

I should mention the fair trade pricing structure. There are many misconceptions about the purpose and impact of the fair trade minimum price. (Minimum being the operative word). The price is designed as a safe guard for when market prices fall below the cost of production (i.e. it costs more to produce the coffee than farmers can sell it for). This means that if growers are fair trade certified, they don’t have to worry about losing their livelihoods when the price falls. Fair trade also requires that a US0.20c premium be paid on top of the sale price, to go back into community development and capacity building.

Raking out Coffee Beans
New drying patios with freshly washed green coffee in parchment at GUAYA’B Guatemala.

Commonly, prices are determined by grower and roaster based on a number of other variables, and ethical specialty companies (like Peoples Coffee) pay well above the fair trade minimum. We pay an average of around 50% more per pound, with some coffees going for well over twice the minimum price per pound. Andy Fawkes, Managing Director of Masteroast in the UK, explained nuanced pricing structures in a recent Guardian article: “The conversation has become too much about the fact that the scheme just happens to provide a minimum price, and this has become so strong as to eclipse any correctly informed discussion about quality – like all coffee sourcing, it is down to the roaster to build strong relationships and demand/encourage/reward growers to produce better quality, Fairtrade or not.”

Real Relationships

Ah, relationships. Remove the standards, remove the price structures and the certifications and the premiums, and what it all boils down to is maintaining relationships of respect, equality, and partnership. This is implicit in the principles of the fair trade system, but it is slightly harder to measure.

Sampling Green Beans
Lucas Garcia (right) and mill staff smelling fresh parchment at GUAYA’B Guatemala.

Like many coffee roasters, we regularly visit origin, spend time with cooperatives, and witness the realities of growing, harvesting, and processing coffee. It is always exciting to sample the fruits of the latest harvest, but more important to us is understanding challenges facing our trading partners, and exploring ways we can strengthen our support for them. I couldn’t put it better than Rene does in a similar Peoples Blog post over a year ago: “We choose co-ops that are organized in such a way that our trade will have a tangible positive impact on the sustainability of production, and on the lives and communities of the farmers who produce it.” This is why we visit origin, this is why we invest in relationships. There are many companies who are not fair trade certified who place equal importance on relationships with farming communities, and there are many direct traders who have equitable and ethical partnerships at the heart of their business. This is something that you don’t necessarily need a fair trade label to do.

A Cooperative Member
Marvin Perez manager of APODIP co-op in Guatemala, the warmest man you could meet.

But we do feel that the World Fair Trade Organisation certification informs, underpins, and to a point guarantees our ethical-ness as a business. We are accountable through our certification to a set of minimum standards that underpin prices, premiums and relationships. We will always endeavor to hold ourselves to a higher ethical standard than our fair trade certification does, but our customers can be guaranteed, through our certification, that we are at least doing the least we can do.

Of course it is possible to not be fair trade certified and still be a direct trader and an ethical company. Unfortunately it is also possible to have fair trade certification and to not always be as ethical as you should. We hold ourselves to our own, very high standards of equitable trade and partnership, and we hope that our customers do too.


August 27th, 2014


Posted In: Activism, Branding, Certifications, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable

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Yesterday the Peoples Coffee team went on a family outing to paradise, also known as the Wellington Chocolate Factory.  Not only was the adventure pleasing to our taste buds, but it turns out that coffee geeks and chocolate geeks have a lot in common, and the roasting experts among us found kindred spirits in chocolatiers Gabe and Rochelle.

Specialty chocolate is relatively rare in New Zealand – and single origin roasts even rarer. We sampled strong, dark Dominican, plummy Madagascar,  apricotty Peruvian, and a smoky Bougainvillian roast that tasted like bacon. In a good way.

The depth of knowledge and enthusiasm of our hosts bordered on obsessive and reminded us of one or two coffee roasters we know – who had their heads together and their sensitive noses stuck in cacao pods for the duration of the visit.

There is a reason that coffee roasters and chocolate roasters are alike: The products are alike – more alike than we realised.

Like Arabica and Robusta coffee, cacao beans come in two main varieties: Forestero, and Criollo. The former is more abundant, and of poorer quality generally, and the latter is the real delicacy. Also like coffee, there is a hybrid between the two – called Trinitario, which has a higher yield, is of high quality, and is more disease resistant (like coffee hybrids.) Wellington Chocolate Factory beans are either Criollo or Trinitario.

Like coffee, supermarket chocolate is a world away from specialty chocolate. Confectionery chocolate has additives to sweeten it to the point that it loses its fruity acidity. As with high quality coffee, specialty chocolate doesn’t have additives, and until you’ve tasted that – you don’t know what chocolate tastes like.

Chocolate is processed like coffee: First fermented, then washed, then sun dried, then roasted. The quality of the soil, the age of the trees, the latitude of the farm and the cultivation techniques of the farmers all have a profound influence on the final product.

Like coffee, cacao plants are susceptible to devastating disease, which wipes out hectares of crops.

Like coffee, chocolate is known as a crop of poverty, and has been connected to exploitation and even child slavery.  However – the Wellington Chocolate Factory  buys from ethical growers, and is deeply conscious of its role in supporting its producers. So conscious, in fact, that they’re starting a kickstarter campaign to give independent farmers in Bougainville the processing equipment they need to stay afloat amid the increasing corporatization of the industry there. If cacao can generate real returns to Bougainvillians, Gabe explains, there won’t be a return to disputes over the local mine that lead to years of civil conflict. Bougainville may even be able to become truly independent from Papua New Guinea.

We wouldn’t mind a bit more smoky Bougainville roast on the market here either.

Check out the Welllington Chocolate Factory’s Facebook page, or peruse their website for more information. Better yet – head down there! They can be found nestled in Eva Street, between Dixon and Ghuznee.

 


July 30th, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Cafes, CBD, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Collaboration, Cooperatives, Fair trade

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Hello, I’m Kelle. I’ve been working at Peoples Coffee for about 4 weeks, but enjoying it for much longer. I’m basically the new admin/sales/all-rounder person. Or possibly more accurately: Making-it-up-as-I-go-along.

Two years ago, I knew roughly as much about coffee as your average Wellingtonian, meaning I drank enough of it to sustain an honours degree and two jobs, but still had a bit to learn about what was in my cup.

I fell further into the world of coffee in 2013 when I embarked on a master’s thesis in Development Studies. I’d happened to read an article about inequity in the coffee industry in Timor-Leste. I had always been interested in fair trade, and I wondered to what extent fair trade impacted on the lives of the farmers there.

Six months and dozens of funding applications later, somebody with resources decided the research was worthwhile and I was on a plane.

Armed with a few phone numbers and a very skinny Lonely Planet, I spent the first couple of days trying to reassure myself, and my funders, that I was equipped to investigate what was a very complex and quite specialised subject.

My break came in the form of Pedro Soares, an English student at the local university who cheerfully agreed to accompany me up into the mountainous coffee districts. We stayed with his relatives, and interviewed every farmer we came across on the jungle roads.

I’ve traveled and researched in developing countries before, but I was deeply shocked at the level of poverty that existed in Timor’s rural districts. Timor-Leste is the least developed country in Asia. Its people have overcome hundreds of years of occupation, most recently fighting an extremely bloody resistance against Indonesian control.

The average coffee farmer in Timor makes US$100-250 a year, for their whole family. Infrastructure is almost non-existent, yields are low, and farmers are beholden to three large companies who buy their coffee at very low prices. The coffee is generally sold either to Starbucks, or into instant blends for supermarket shelves.

I was starting to piece together a pretty dismal picture of the reality of being a coffee farmer in Timor. I felt angry, but also impassioned – I realised the transformative potential that fair trade could have in empowering producers, and allowing them greater control over the industry, and greater returns.

Back at home I was realising that anger, passion and Timorese coffee couldn’t completely sustain me, and I probably needed a part-time job while I was writing my thesis. When I saw that Peoples were hiring I jumped on it. I had interviewed Rene as part of my research, and was really drawn to the ethos of the company. I saw an opportunity to be part of an organisation that addressed all those things I was feeling angry about.

So here I am, 20,000 words down, 20,000 to go. I’ve had a crash-course in all things coffee over the past year, and am looking forward to continuing my caffeine-based education.

 


July 2nd, 2014


Posted In: Brewing, Certifications, Coffee, Fair trade

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Mid-year for roasters is both a frustrating and exciting time. Frustrating because a lot of our green coffee is now old and roasting profiles must be regularly checked to compensate for aging…But exciting because around this time the fresh coffee harvest starts to arrive from various exotic locations. When a fresh bag is opened the Roastery is filled with the beautiful fragrance of green coffee. Almost all our coffees are now arriving in GrainPro plastic bags, which preserve the coffee from going stale or absorbing gasses. Some coffees which would usually be noticeably faded at six months, are now still tasting great because of GrainPro.

Coffee has an annual harvest, which happens at different times in different countries depending on the ripeness of the cherries. A lot of work goes into the harvest, processing and shipping of coffee, and oftentimes things don’t work quite to the schedule one might have been expecting. Involvement in this process does require a certain amount of flexibility, but from May container ships start to arrive on our shores packed with beans ready for roasting. MAF like to check containers – especially ones coming from deep Africa – and occasionally our containers are flushed with oxygen, or frozen to eradicate any bugs (organically, of course).

This year the African ports are delayed (again) and we will run a bit short until the container ship traverses the shipping routes and clears customs. This is fairly common – African coffees are regularly held up (for some reason or other) and we don’t always receive the coffee when expected.

As a customer you may not actually ever notice, but every roaster at some time will find the need to re-work a blend; to change the ratio of coffees, or to re-blend a new origin in to maintain a consistent flavour. Some coffees have a reasonably interchangeable nature and are accommodating if a blend needs to be re-worked, but others are more unique and harder to replace without drastic flavour changes.

Most of our coffees we have brought from the same farmers for nigh-on 10 years, and while it is the same land, as with all agricultural products there can be variations from year to year. Sometimes a coffee will have a slightly different fruitiness, or have more body relative to the last harvest. Over the next few months some of our coffees may be slightly different in nature, and hopefully the noticeable difference will be a fullness of flavour that is lively and pleasing.

Each year I use the new harvest period as an opportunity to assess all our coffees; what we like about them, and ways we can continue to hone our delicate roasting and brewing protocols to always bring out their full potential. Over the weeks that the coffees are arriving I am continuously sample-roasting each product in different ways to understand its subtle flavours and qualities, and to develop the retail roast profile. This maintains consistency while making the coffee taste better.

I have been very excited this year about the Bolivia, which is our current Single Origin Espresso. This is an excellent coffee and has allowed me to experiment with some new roasting techniques for espresso, by which I have been trying to eliminate all bitterness from the short black, and promote sweetness and fruity acidity.

We will also be releasing some new Rwanda, Timor-Leste, Ethiopia Wenago, and perhaps a Congo as they arrive.

Keep your palate handy,

Rene


June 20th, 2014


Posted In: Africa, Coffee, Cooperatives, Ethiopia, Fair trade

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Recently I was featured in a report about leaf rust in coffee and it sparked some very interesting responses – yes Renee is a girls name, but I’m René, it’s French, ok?! Maybe I should have listened when they said “Never read the comments”, unfortunately I did, but it did pull up some interesting questions and ideas on what is important in a media piece on coffee.

Leaf rust is one of the many challenges the coffee industry has been facing for decades and has been changing the way coffee is produced for years. Stories which are presented in the media are usually pitched at how it affects the consumer and plied with a click bait headline – “Coffee as we know it at risk of dying”. The story was reported as if rust will wipe out all coffee in the world and we all become decaffeinated zombies!

This isn’t quite true however, coffee “as we know it” is being affected by rust but it’s not suddenly dying on us. For decades work has been done addressing the issue of leaf rust – new resistant varietals are being created, and there is a change in the direction of high level information which guides the industry towards more sustainable farming practices.

The leaf rust story was more current for us early last year when I was visiting producers in Guatemala and Nicaragua and saw the impact of rust first hand as it spread through Latin America. So much so that I wrote about it then. Rust has made a palpable impact on many of the farmers we’ve bought from for years. It was heart breaking to see the farmers’ bare trees. These are producers who have worked their land successfully for years and whose coffee you have probably drunk from Peoples Coffee many times.

Coffee in a State of Change

There is something like 25 million families involved in growing coffee and statistics say the average payout is only around $250Us dollars a person/ per year (4 persons per family). Currently at least 5 countries have declared a state of national emergency due to the wider impacts of reduced production, however this has had little change to the global stocks of available coffee, (global stocks are part of what dictate coffee price). Coffee is a big deal for so many people globally, it is not going to die, but coffee as we currently know it will change, from what kinds of coffee are available and how they make up the global stocks.

Not All Coffee is Created Equal.

There are two very different types of coffee on our shelves.

Instant coffee (and most supermarket pre-ground brick coffee), which is low-grade commodity coffee, mostly robusta (low quality, high caffeine). This grade makes up most of the global production and consumption, and is responsible for dictating the street price of green coffee globally. Often when it is reported that the green bean price is at “an all time low” they are talking about this type of coffee, not the coffee we drink in our flat whites.

Cafe quality coffee, which in NZ is mostly specialty grade Arabica coffee, this require more controls during all stages to produce a product which has desirable flavours. Companies that are committed to trade justice and better living conditions for farmers will be paying far more than the “street price” quoted in the media.

The demand has been easily meet with commodity coffee and more and more is being produced. There is also more demand for higher grade coffee (for cafes), but this is harder to produce and isn’t quite keeping up with demand as fast as the cheap coffee. The progressive work done in the industry is focused mainly on two categories: development done for agronomy ( less quality flavours and cheeper beans), or development for cup profile (more expensive, better tasting). These developments are great for the future of the industry, but it will require new plants to be distributed and grown, which takes years, and may not really be the best way to deal with the issue from many peoples point of view.

Quality vs Value

Everyone can generally taste difference between expensive and cheap products, we all have our favourite beer, wine or chocolate. What we buy will depend on many different factors – it may be economic, to support local production, brand appeal, or because after trying them all- it was your favourite. But any of these factors may not necessarily translate to the highest quality.

Instant coffee has a place in this world and there is no shame in drinking it but it needs to be recognised there is infinitely more work and value put into producing a high quality product like quality cafe coffee. For a well made, high quality coffee, with organic milk, made by a well trained barista on a good wage in a nice environment you should be willing to pay a premium price. However, that flat white is not on the same playing field with a quick coffee using cheap quality coffee beans and low paid staff. When it comes to coffee, you can usually expect to get what you pay for. If cheap is what you are after, then shop around for the best price. If a good coffee experience is what you are after (all those quality factors listed above), then shop around for the best experience until you are happy, but don’t assume the two will naturally meet.

Organic

Every product in the world is full of chemicals, what we are talking about are biologically structured chemicals in potencies which are (most often by definition) harmful to humans, animals and the environment, but act as steroids for plants.

The reason Peoples Coffee chose organic is because of the negative impact chemical use has on farming families’ health and the bigger picture of food production, health and the planet. Many chemicals are available to producers (sometimes subsidised from US govt) to put on plants throughout Mesoamerica. This is something you should be genuinely worried about as it is often not known how to correctly handle these substances (there is no OSH for coffee farms). The impact is very clearly damaging, from what we’ve heard from farmers who have used them, and seeing it up close on coffee origin trips (not to mention all the research).

The goal in organic production is to produce a product which is sustainable and safe for humans to produce, not to supply you with a cheap cup of coffee. Pesticides are used in large-scale commodity farming to reduce work needed for production. But for many producers using chemicals is about choosing a higher yield and bigger pay day over the the long term health for them and their family.

It can be misconstrued that coffee roasters are bullying farmers into organic production for our own increased market share, there really isn’t enough supply or demand for organic coffee to justify this position. For Peoples Coffee it is about a holistic 21st century attitude towards having enjoyable world for ourselves and our children, and rolling these expectations for our own life into the lives of our supply chain.

Luxury and Ethics

In order to have your two cups of coffee a day, it requires a farmer to harvest around 18 trees a year. These people should be your best friend I reckon! And it’s important to remember that when sipping on your daily flat white.

Coffee isn’t a right it should be a luxury. The history of coffee is fraught when viewed with a 2014 world view, which is why it is important to keep it’s history topical in your mind when addressing the big picture. If nothing is changing in the industry, then those bad practices are still happening, which has helped to keep developing countries behind, and first world profits ahead.

Consumers can make a conscious choice to support everyone in the supply chain while also choosing a high quality product. This is true value because it benefits everyone in the process. So yes, leaf rust is a serious problem, it is a problem for farmers whose livelihoods depend on first world coffee consumption. Let’s change the conversation, from if you’ll get your cup of coffee in the morning, to how this has a profound of effect on peoples lives.

Where do you place value on your favourite products?

 

René

 

 

 

 

 

 


June 4th, 2014


Posted In: Activism, Branding, Certifications, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability

5 Comments

We welcome this week’s guest blogger Delaney Mes – ex Wellingtonian, coffee aficionado, eater of good food, writer for Heartbreak Pie, Metro Restaurant of the year judge and Auckland resident. We can sing the praises of The Roskill Coffee Project all we want, but who better to check it out and really put it under the hammer than Delaney, a true gastronome – Beth

 

A wise person once told me that there’s more money in chasing good ideas, than good ideas chasing money. I love meeting people turning their lives and their work into something that isn’t solely focused on making the most money possible. It makes me feel better when I can’t afford to pay my phone bill to know that others have given up salaries and office-jobs to do something they’re passionate about too. And there’s few ways I’d rather spend an afternoon than drinking perfectly made coffee in the sunshine talking ideas with interesting people.

So, to The Roskill Coffee Project I trekked on Tuesday. It was there I met Paul and Ana, two of the three partners running a café in a community centre. But it’s so much more than a café. First things first, it serves Peoples Coffee. Up here in Auckland we’re a bit deprived of one of my favourite Wellington coffee brands (three cafes so far, hopefully many more to come) so I was very excited to hear about this place, not far from my hood.

The Roskill Coffee Project is a community-focused initiative, the three co- managers – Ana and Paul who I met, plus their friend Rowan, who looks after the books– are all passionate locals who wanted to do something for the Mt Roskill community they love so much. It’s one of the more culturally diverse areas of Auckland, reflected in the managers themselves who hark originally from Scotland (Paul), Sri Lanka (Ana) and South Africa (Rowan). They come from varying work backgrounds too, Ana is a former lawyer (my favourite kind) and they’d each been involved in youth and community work before; the café as an idea seemed a way it could all tie together. Wanting something sustainable as a business model, 100% of the profits (“when we make a profit” jokes Paul) will go back into the community.

The café itself is across the courtyard at the Wesley Community Centre, a space they share. Part of the deal is that the café space is used by others outside of the operating hours, something they had to negotiate. Apart from all the good stuff it’s doing – serving fairtrade food and drinks (also halal and baked and prepared onsite), providing inexperienced young people work experience and part time jobs – it’s a fantastic spot for a café anyway. And a café wouldn’t survive if the coffee wasn’t any good and so the coffee, of course, was great.

The trio saw too many school leavers and youth unable to get a foot in the door with employment, so training them to beef up their CVs with skills and experience was the impetus for the model. And one that so far appears to be working. They opened in December with two trainees on trial, both of whom have now been employed on a permanent basis.

There’s a fruit and vegetable market twice a week right outside, and it’s there you get a true sense of the community this café is nestled amongst. And for those of us who miss their Peoples fix and work nearby are able to get retail beans too, all served up with a smile.


May 14th, 2014


Posted In: Cafes, Coffee, Fair trade

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These days certifications are a part of almost every product we buy. We trust them to do what they say, but perhaps we are also a little suspicious of who is benefiting from them, and if it makes a difference at all. There are quite a few certifications in coffee. Some relate to the product and how it is traded – i.e. fairtrade. And some relate to conditions in which the product is produced – i.e. shade grown or organic.

Certified coffee makes up a small part of the over all global coffee sales. For a roaster to buy certified coffee they are essentially eliminating the wider range of non-certified coffee available. From there they continue with their own criteria based on taste and availability to find good partners to trade with, thus eliminating more producers and coffees again. So some criticism comes from the smaller pool of coffee available to certified roasters. However the choice to buy certified products means the process meets an ethical criteria (which is verified by a third party) rather than taking someones word for it. No singular certification system will solve every issue in coffee, but it is an important step in giving the power back to the farmers that produce this product we love so much.

It is important to understand what each certification is for – what are its main goals, who benefits from them, and how. I’ve only scratched the surface with the following certifications, but these are a few of the main players. You’ll see not all are as transparant as others. I hope this gives you a little insight into making more informed decisions. If you have any questions about certifications I’ve missed out, please leave a comment below and I’ll try and answer them as best I can.

Peoples Coffee source beans that fall under a variety of certifications – these include FairtradeOrganic USDA,World fair Trade OrganisationEcocertUTZBCS Öko-GarantieMayacertICIAIFOAM, Naturaland and Bird-Friendly. Some of these we go out of our way to choose because of their certification, others are just a bonus. We are proud to call ourselves Fair Trade, which we achieve through our World Fair Trade Organisation certification, it allows us to be accountable and transparent about all our trading processes.

World Fair Trade Organisation is different from other fair trade certifications. The idea is that it is not one product line that will make a different with the poverty and injustice in the industry, but the business as a whole. A WFTO certified business must comply with ten basic principals. Wages, business sustainability, working conditions, equality for staff (amongst others) must reach a certain standard. Compliance for this is mostly done through accounting records, business objectives and profit levels.

This program was created to address green-washing and the over marketing of ethical products by businesses who buy and sell certified FT products and promote themselves as ethical but have poor business practices like low wages and poor working hours/conditions for their employees.

This certification is extremely hard to achieve, which is the point of it, there are only two certified businesses in NZ – Trade AidImporters and Peoples Coffee.

USDA Organic (US Dept of Agriculture) is the federal organic certification which verifies that a crop, livestock, farm and handling facilities comply with the USDA’s organic regulations. This is one of the global standards which most organic coffee is certified to.

Up to 95% of the product must be organic (allowing 5% unintentional mixing). Costs to be certified vary from $700 to $3000.

Most synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can’t be used for 3 years to gain certification on land and crop. Coffee yields will drop as much as 30% when transitioning to organic, and a lot more work is required to keep trees healthy and producing good quality coffee.

If this coffee is also Fairtrade certified then 25 cents a pound is the premium, but normal sales doesn’t require a premium.

This is a stringent certification, requiring onsite checks, but many different bodies can certify to USDA standards.

 

 

Bird-Friendly (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center) developed by ecologists to protect birds and their migratory paths across the world. It is not designed specifically for coffee quality, but coffee does benefit from it. Certification requires a 12meter shade canopy with 3 layers, at least 40% shade cover, 11 different species of shade trees, and many more complex requirements.

Coffee must already be certified organic by another body. Bird Friendly certified coffee has no required premium or minimum prices. This certification focuses on preserving forests for the birds (and the bees), it has very high standards and growing conditions which are ideal for producing coffee. There is some very good Bird-friendly certified coffees available.

Rainforest Alliance (est 1992) is an NGO who certify a variety of products, mainly forestry and agriculture including coffee, tea, cut flowers, bananas and chocolate. It is an older scheme originally for timber extraction, which until recently did not include coffee.

RFA uses SAN (sustainable agriculture research) as a basis for standards. Baseline criteria: coffee can be from non-shade and from in-organic conditions, shade grown coffee should have 2 layers of shade.

In general this certification seems to be used mainly by big businesses (e.g. McDonalds) and perhaps it isn’t specific enough to require many changes from the average diligent coffee farmer with shade grown coffee, but it does give a good basis for basic standards and practices.

However to be Rainforest Alliance approved, a product only needs to contain 30% certified beans. This means there is a lot of non-certified coffee being sold as a certified product, leaving plenty of room for green washing.

 

Fairtrade‘s focus is to raise the livelihoods of producers by addressing the imbalance in international trade relationships and unstable markets. It seeks to provide a minimum cost of production and direct trade relationships to further the benefits between farmer and roaster.

Baseline criteria: Fairtrade coffee certification is only open to small lot farmer organisations. Everybody has equal rights to vote and participate. Environmental standards restrict the use of agrochemicals and encourage sustainability.

“Producer organizations are paid a minimum price of US 1.40 per pound (for times of low market) or prices above this as negotiated. Organic coffee receives an extra minimum differential of US 30 cents per pound. A Fairtrade Premium of US 20c per pound for social and economic investments is to be distributed at the community and organizational level. Trade standards aim to encourage fairer negotiations, clarify the role of price fixing, and reduce speculation.”

Costs to join are around $2500 for producers, and 2% revenue for roasters to use the certification label on bags.

One of the main criticisms of Fairtrade coffee is that it doesn’t incentivise quality in its main criteria, and poorer quality coffee is sold under this mechanism.

The point of the Fairtrade certification is to target farmers and reward them for their coffee. It is the buyer who in charge of choosing the quality coffee they would like (Just like every system). Through FT there is an open relationship to build on better quality.

There is, of course, poorer grade FT coffee sold  and people manipulating the system by choosing who they sell the good and bad to and for how much. But I see this is a weakness in business not just the FT system as we see corruption everywhere.

Peoples Coffee have bought many containers of good quality origins for espresso blends, as well as micro lots, single farmer lots, single variety lots, zero defect lots, and all as certified FT coffee.

There are systems which incentivise quality like Cup of Excellence. However it is an entirely different trading market. COE are small amounts of coffee and is purely focused on the cup quality. It doesn’t really care who, where, how it was produced, as long as it “cups well” (scores high on a 100 point flavour based system). Comparing these very expensive coffees to the quality of the coffees we drink for $4 a cup, is like comparing a $300 bottle of wine from vineyard to a $30 supermarket bottle, because its  COE coffees we drink in out flat whites every day at our regular cafe.

 

Fair Trade USA is a fairly new offshoot from Fairtrade with whom they share many goals and criteria, but broke off to create FTUSA to further the reach of their goals. FTUSA have opened up who can join their certification to allow seasonal farm workers and estates to be FTUSA certified. This is at odds with FT who only certify small lots farmers who form co-ops. The distinction is that estates usually only have one land owner (or family) who control the business, and workers are just paid a wage and have no control.

This has caused a slight rift in the FT world, partly because some co-ops struggle to sell all of their coffee for sustainable certified prices as it is.

Also it looks like big businesses can buy the same cheap coffee they currently do, and just certify the producer through FTUSA to turn it into certified “ethical” coffee. The potential for green washing seems much higher when anyone can be certified.

FTUSA want to tackle global poverty, and want to be able to certify almost anyone producing coffee as the means of achieving this. Seasonal workers make up many pickers during harvest time and are currently unrepresented, so there is a real need. But the FT mechanism works when it uses a unified community group that work together to meet their shared goals, how seasonal workers can participate or benefit in small scale community democracy is a challenging idea, and its in early days of its growth of the certification, but one to keep an eye on.

 

Peoples Coffee have been using 100 % Fair Trade and organic coffee since we started 10 years ago, this is because we want to ensure we make a positive impact through trading and Fairtrade is built to help with this process, not because we want to be branded as certified.

Peoples Coffee continues to use certifications because of the inherent standards and practices they build into the system. It means we can have globally recognised standards as a base line and we are held accountable to these standards, not just our own.

Certification helps us to demonstrate the authenticity as a business by being transparent in our trading practices and gives the power back to the customer to make an informed decision about who they give their money to.

For more information on how Peoples Coffee trade, you can read our page on fair trade and why co-ops matter.

You can also learn more about the World Fair Trade Organisations ten principles of Fair Trade here.

 

 

 

 

 


April 17th, 2014


Posted In: Branding, Certifications, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable

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All Good Organics believe that in an enlightened world we should treat the people who grow our food as if they lived right next door, it is an ethos that we share at Peoples Coffee. The supermarket supply chain removes us from understanding the journey our favourite products take. (Wellingtonians coincidentally seem to LOVE bananas, they consume a third of the All Good bananas eaten in New Zealand). So it was a unique occasion that All Good Organics bought over one of their farmers – Wilson Sanchez and his daughter Kelly to put a face to their product and a first hand account of how Fairtrade can affect a farmer’s life and the flow on affect to their family’s lives. Wilson, who has a wide and infectious grin, seemed very humbled to be here. “We are very happy to come and visit New Zealand to talk about the way we work, how we look after our farms, the environment and biodiversity. Everyone benefits from growing things organically. Everyone should know where the product comes from.”

Moore Wilsons hosted the All Good gang, Wilson and Kelly, where they will only be selling All Good bananas from now on. In contrast to green coffee beans that are sturdy and can travel well, Rene asked Wilson how hard it was to make sure they all arrive safely and the challenges that come with growing organically. “We have to be really careful. We have to make sure we comply to all the industry standards, we take our time and we have to be patient. It can be difficult to comply with the standards only the most committed do it. There are lots of people growing lots of bananas. They can sell anywhere, but we don’t want to be like that. They don’t control the pollution or chemicals during farming or processing. That is the difference between Fairtrade and conventional farmers.”

For one of the Co-founders of All Good, Simon Coley, helping these committed farmers is important to him, “We only deal with small lot farmers, these co-ops have to coordinate the efforts of around 30 farms to fill a container. We know everyone of those farmers. These are people working for the cause.”

Simon goes on to explain “through Fairtrade, farmers like Wilson and his family are able to move into what we call ‘middle class’, which is hugely important. You can see the pathway to a stable happy future, because the alternative is despair – being poor for ever. The fact that Kelly is now able to go to university means one day she’ll be able to help us as much as she will also help her family. She is the future of this industry”. Although it was obvious that Wilson was not keen for Kelly to become a banana farmer (which is similar for many coffee growers, they do not wish the hard life of a farmer on their children), she explained she hopes to one day own a construction company. “I see different ways to help the farm, like building roads, because at the moment my dad can only transport the bananas by donkey to the main road. That can take 40 minutes each way. A road will reduce that time”.

Wilson’s life has changed dramatically since moving to organic banana farming. “It is good for the family because we still get to be together. I don’t need to go and get another job in another city. I’d be working on a shrimp farm, which is so far away from my family. I used to grown cocoa, which only has a short harvest, but I can grown bananas all year round. I couldn’t survive on cocoa, so had to get other jobs. Now I have a more stable income, which allows me to send Kelly to university.”

Despite having a translator for the whole conversation, there was something that didn’t need to be translated – coffee. We shared a coffee and as we were just finishing up I saw Kelly looking inquisitively at the asparagus and other weird looking vegetables. Which is pretty much my favourite thing to do also when I travel to a new country as well. We talked them through what each one was and what they tasted like. With each of our trips back to origin it is important to meet farmers and their families, and bring their story back with us to share with our coffee drinkers. That is why we name our beans after our farmers to remind us all that they are the start of the supply chain. We love that All Good Organics have gone a step further – enabling the farmer to tell their story directly, connecting the consumer directly to the grower. It was a wonderful experience to meet Wilson and Kelly and we look forward to following their story.

 

 


November 13th, 2013


Posted In: Activism, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable

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In the last year there has been a bit of talk about the cost of coffee in the Capital and the naive assumption that because of the falling bean prices, our long black prices should be falling with it. It’s a touchy subject I suppose, us Wellingtonians we know a lot about coffee. But how much do we really know about the commodity market that green beans are traded on and what determines the price of a pound? It is a bit like feeling you can discuss the intricacies of American Politics just because you watched the first season of The West Wing. I asked Rene to shed a bit of light on the cost of green beans and how that translates to the cost of our coffee – Beth.

 

Over the last four years green coffee has gone through some huge price changes. At one stage it seemed like the market finally realised it needed to pay more for coffee, but now with most of the 2013 harvest sold, the market has returned to low 2009 prices.

Like all international commodities, coffee prices are set via trading on a stock market: supply and demand, and stock speculation of coffee, amongst other factors, are responsible for fluctuating prices. 2009 prices were around $US1.30 per pound but rose fast through 2011 to around $US3 per pound.

There was a lot of discussion among people in the coffee industry about the sustainability of coffee. Specifically we were talking about how much farmers are paid, and around the wider issues which affect price, but which the farmer has no control over — like global warming. There was a feeling with some regarding the rising price, that the market was finally maturing to acknowledge and meet the tough realities of production.

 

None of us want to pay more for stuff, right? But many of us in the industry believe it’s hugely important for quality coffee to continue to be produced. This means the price of green coffee needs to increase and the work of coffee producers needs to be better rewarded.

During times of high prices, roasteries are challenged to tighten their belts and smarten up, or source poor quality coffee at cheaper rates.

As I said before, over the last 2 years the price has fallen back to 2009 prices of around $US1.13. The International Coffee Organization states this price is actually below the cost of production.

We’re talking about farmers who have very little to spend on living. They often grow their own food and live in low cost accommodation — a wooden shack with dirt floor.

For farms with good trees growing already, farmers may not have to spend much actual cash through the year, payment for transportation and pickers at harvest time might actually make up a significant part of the cash payments.

This triggers a decision for coffee buyers: make more money sourcing coffee at basement prices or recognise the market is mad and not follow it to its extreme lows.

Peoples Coffee buys certified fair trade organic coffee. This has a minimum price of $US1.65 per pound. This minimum ensures we cover costs of production for coffee growers. However, Peoples has always paid more, an average of around 50% more per pound, with some coffees going for well over twice the minimum price per pound. This way we ensure decent quality coffee at a price that the co-op is happy with, helping to ensure we can buy the same coffee coffee again in years to come.

The challenge for green bean buyers is to keep up with the market changes, but also ensure growers’ wellbeing is taken into account with the price payed. Sometimes this means accepting less profit.

When visiting growers, we always have a good discussion about prices and the cost of production. We hoped the higher prices during 2010–11 signaled a sea change in the industry, not a price spike which would create more insecurity in the market for producers.

But sadly it seems like the mad international commodity pricing mechanism wins out again.

Each year there are developments in the industry which continue to capture my interest – micro lots becoming more available, environmental issues having negative impacts on quality, computer monitored roasting and new brewing methods. But the pricing of green beans has always had a curious disconnect from reality. We should be trying to think of a way roasters, like myself, can have more ownership over the trade relationship we have with growers.

Interestingly Trade Aid Importers have recently started a new “sustainability fund”. We now have an opportunity with specific co-ops, to pay extra with each trade on top of the standard market price Trade Aid set. This is quite a revolutionary idea and one we are very keen to get behind. It’s a bold step by Trade Aid and allows the roaster to better support producers as they see fit.

For Peoples Coffee this is very inspiring and another initiative from Trade Aid Importers’ long list of innovative funding programs. Respect!

So while the green bean price is falling, we forget who is out of pocket. It has enormous repercussions for the farmers. Is that really worth the 20c saving you would make on your cup of coffee?

What do you think? Should the price of a long black be falling and following suit with the green bean prices?

René


October 1st, 2013


Posted In: Coffee, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable

2 Comments

Blends have a long tradition in espresso history. They are generally created to build a balanced, pleasing flavour by combining different origins with certain characteristics. A traditional espresso blend may have low acidity and be full-bodied with a dark chocolate bitter sweet flavour.

Often a blend will have one main origin as the base. Beans from Brazil are common base blenders and might make up 40 percent of the blend. Then other origins are added to develop flavours, mouthfeel, and add highlights and complexity.

Blends are the bread and butter income for most roasteries — most of their business is from wholesaling to cafés. The blend plays a powerful role in this chain: it dictates the profitability of the roaster and café.

The price of a cup of coffee is often a hot subject, but the actual cost of your flat white has changed very little over the years. Whereas the price of green coffee has gone up and down due to many factors which I won’t mention here. To some degree the average price for a cup of coffee in Wellington dictates the maximum I can pay for a sack of green beans. Individual costs and ratio of profitability work their way back through the supply chain. Wholesaled blends in Wellington vary in price hugely, with blends offered by some roasters being almost half the price of others. This means there are different levels of quality available and different ratios of profit from the farmer, down through the chain to the customer.

Peoples Coffee has grown up with some basic principles which guide our decision making process. For example, we want to buy great coffee in a way which has a positive impact through added value at each step. After 5 years of visiting farmers, I have rarely heard a farmer say they hope their children will continue farming coffee. We offer terms of trade to our producers in the hope this will create a healthy life for them and that they would want their children to continue farming coffee.

Since the start of Peoples Coffee we have been 100 percent organic. For us this is about sustainability. When we travel to coffee producing origins, we see that chemical use often has a very negative impact on the people and environment. By buying only organic coffee, we support quality and sustainability and this leads to better quality and sustainability for the future. This may limit the coffee I can buy, but if we want to see change, sometimes we have to make it. Hoping coffee will become more sustainable — but buying something else until the perfect coffee is available —isn’t going to change the sustainability of coffee very effectively.

I choose not to buy Robusta or Brazil beans, cheap coffees, because they supply little more to a blend other than profitability. Brazil is the biggest producer of coffee globally. It is mainly machine-harvested, commodity grade, non-organic, and comes from large farms operating at an industrial level. These are things I don’t find very appealing in coffee. So I choose to buy from other countries because of the interesting stories involved in sourcing it and the people and communities who have been affected by the troubled history of coffee.

In 2009 I visited the co-op Guaya’b in Guatemala. With the Manager, Lucas Garcia, we visited farmers during the harvest process and talked about the specifics of production. We also went to the warehouse, and the half built drying patios, and learnt about the social projects they are running. After seeing this, and knowing their coffee, I felt the co-op fit with the Peoples objectives and chose to blend Guaya’b’s coffee into the Don Wilfredo blend. Since then we have continued selling plenty of Don Wilfredo which makes a further difference to Guaya’b, and many other co-op’s like them. When I visited them again in 2013 and was able to see the development in their production with the completion of the patio, which has led to better quality and profitability for the co-op and the coffee itself. I feel proud that Peoples Coffee was part of that story.

This is how I like to build my blends — from the knowledge of the co-op after years of tasting their coffee, visiting them to meet and understand who they are, seeing what problems they currently face and how they hope to achieve their goals. I know by carefully choosing coffees from certain co-ops to blend, I can build a beautiful blend and each cup of coffee we sell goes towards developing the lives of the producers. Many of these developments are simple things like processing machines and technical staff. But also holistically, with the goal of enabling them to be in charge of their own destiny, just like we all should be.

So a blend can be more than just a balance of flavours, it can be a bridge between people who are like minded in their attitudes towards people, coffee and business.


June 26th, 2013


Posted In: Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability, Sustainable, Trips, Uncategorized

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Coffee has a sad history for many countries. Colonialism and slavery were used as a means to set up much of the global coffee production, which has left many farmers today living in remote mountainous villages, with coffee as the only possible source of income. Even though 70% of the world’s production of coffee comes from small lot farmers such as these, standard international business practice in coffee leaves these producers at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Peoples Coffee exists to offer an alternative to the normal basis of international trade in coffee; our goal is to use our trade as a mechanism for change in the coffee industry, as opposed to building profit for our shareholders.

At Peoples Coffee, we have a triple bottom line attitude towards trade: people, planet, profit. We measure our organizational success on much more than economic criteria: we direct our trade to those we can have a positive financial, social and ecological impact with.

WHO WE TRADE WITH:

Peoples Coffee trades exclusively with small lot coffee farmers who have joined together to form co-operatives.  Key to our vision is how much the farmers are paid in the hand, not just how much we paid someone for the beans – there is a big difference.

We are coffee lovers, and quality is very important to us in our buying decisions. We choose co-ops whose coffee has a quality and flavour profile we like, and will fit into our coffee programme. But we also choose co-ops that are organized in such a way that our trade will have a tangible positive impact on the sustainability of production, and on the lives and communities of the farmers who produce it.  We do this by paying more, and taking less profit.

Peoples Coffee purchases green beans from Trade Aid Importers (TAI), New Zealand’s largest green bean broker, who buy directly from the co-operatives. We forecast our coffee sales 16 months ahead, specific to each origin, and Trade Aid factor us in when they are setting contracts with the co-ops.  We then purchase green beans on a weekly basis from TAI, who pay the relevant profits back to each co-operative annually.

Together with Trade Aid Importers, we travel to origin each year to visit our co-operatives at harvest time. We believe regularly visiting our producers plays an important role in understanding the realities of farming specialty coffee, and is key to being able to best represent the true value of coffee. Through our visits we are able to see and hear current factors in production, and understand how and why the prices farmers receive in the hand is so important.

Peoples Coffee shares a vision for coffee farmers with Trade Aid Importers, and is thrilled to be supporting co-ops with them, knowing we have a clean and transparent money chain. Buying from a co-op means we have great traceability; we know who grew our coffee, where, how, and exactly how much they got paid.

WHERE WE TRADE:

Our coffee comes from small lot coffee farmers in Africa, and in Central & South America, where the latitude and longitude meet to form ideal growing temperatures and conditions.

Our small lot farmers manage parcels of land typically around 1–5 hectares in size, and farm at altitudes above 1000m, where growing conditions are great for high quality Arabica production, but mechanized farming is less common.

They generally live in villages in the mountains, and plant coffee in amongst the natural forest plants, shaded under a tree canopy. These are perfect growing conditions for producing the tastiest coffee, and have much less impact on the environment than mono-culture planting.  Coffee production can be good for biodiversity, and in many countries is allowed to be grown in state forests, as it encourages birds and insect life.

This is in stark contrast with industrial scale coffee that is grown in larger estates and plantations. These plantations are generally monoculture, meaning the landscape has been cleared to make room for lines of coffee to be planted and to allow machines to drive through to harvest cherries.

HOW WE TRADE:

Globally, coffee contracts (how much is paid for coffee) are almost always set using a differential from the New York Coffee Futures (the stock market), where coffee is traded as a commodity.  However, the prices we pay to farmers are set through discussions with the co-op to find a price that is reflective of the year they have had, the quality, and where the current NZ pricing market is at. These prices are set to be favorable to producers, but still competitive with other coffee in New Zealand.

Coffee is almost exclusively exported from producing countries in shipping containers that carry 250–275 sacks of coffee.  A container of coffee might costs over NZD $100,000 and takes 6 weeks to reach New Zealand via global shipping routes.

In order for any coffee to get to New Zealand, a farmer must sell, and a broker must buy, a whole container of coffee. So small lot farmers, who might only produce 50 sacks a year, are unable to directly access the international export market without a middle man.  However, this issue is resolved when producers of similar region and affiliation join together to form a co-op.  By pooling their resources, they can access the market with an export license, and through mutual profits, can buy and collectively own coffee infrastructure.  As a coffee community, they can share a vision and have the means to develop it.

Through our business objectives we want to support and help progress the small lot farmer’s family business.  We want to share and invest in goals with producers, and build relationships that are more than just a division of profit margins.  We want to change the value of a commodity, by recognising the quality and value of the raw product – not just by adding value to it through roasting.

This is the crux of Peoples Coffee.


May 15th, 2013


Posted In: Coffee, Collaboration, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability, Trips

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We’re lucky to live in a time when businesses are rising to the challenge of producing goods that are just that: good.   But this increased consumer demand for ethical choices has paradoxically prompted a wave of ‘greenwashed’ businesses, who market themselves as ‘green’ or ‘eco’ ( without actually living up to those claims) in order to compete for their slice of the ethical pie.  So how do consumers know who to trust?  How can we sort the ethical wheat from the greenwashed chaff?

Conscious Consumers was launched in 2010 to do just that: assess and accredit businesses in the hospitality industry according to their ethical business practices.  Specifically, Conscious Consumers award businesses with badges that indicate where ‘smart waste’ (ie recycling, composting, eco-packaging), ‘ethical products’ (ie fair trade, free range, organic), and ‘community’ (ie. food rescue and locally sourced products) practices are in place.  In short, they do the background research for consumers, so that we can be confident that the places we’re choosing to support are the real deal.

“We aim to make it easy and fun for consumers to find and support the great New Zealand businesses that are committed to environmentally and socially responsible business practices,” says Melissa Keys, Wellington’s Regional Coordinator.

The scheme takes a ‘vote with your feet’ approach, rewarding businesses for good practice by endorsing them to the thousands of conscious consumers nationwide.  More than 3000 people and 150 businesses have already signed up to the movement, and there are more joining each week.

And they’ve just made it even easier to find great businesses on the run.  The brand new Conscious Consumer App is now available for free download.  Consumers can find all the accredited cafes and restaurants nearby with only the click of a button, as well as local specials exclusively for conscious consumers.

Peoples Coffee has been an accredited business since the movement began in 2010.  And now Peoples is proud to take their involvement one step further, as a Conscious Consumer Ambassador.

“We invited Peoples Coffee to be a Conscious Consumer ambassador because we recognise them as a New Zealand leader in ethical business,” says Melissa.

“The Conscious Consumers movement empowers consumers to make informed choices, and businesses to employ better social and environmental practices” says Peoples Coffee General Manager Liv Doogue.  “As a 100% fair trade company, it made good sense for us to join.”

“We want to promote the values of fair trade and encourage other businesses to do the same. Consumers have the power to drive this change.”

For more info or to become a Conscious Consumer (it’s free, and takes only a moment!) see their website: www.consciousconsumers.org.nz


April 3rd, 2013


Posted In: Cafes, Collaboration, Fair trade, Sustainability

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Harvest season is a time when coffee trees should be thriving, and heavy with leaves and fruit.  But all too often on our visit to Central America, we saw trees bare of leaves, with only a small amount of cherries.  This was due to the effects of a new strand of Roya, a leaf rust that is rapidly spreading through Latin America.  Some of these coffee producing countries have even announced a national emergency due to Roya’s damaging effects.

And at each of the four co-operatives we visited in Guatemala and Nicaragua,  Roya was a hot topic of discussion.  Roya is common to coffee, but this new strand seems to be worse than ever before, with many farmers very quickly losing much of their coffee to it.  Since the rust can remain in fallen leaves, farmers we spoke with had been advised to clear out all the coffee from affected areas and then burn the trees!  Once the land has been ‘cleaned’ then replanting can begin, but this will cause a three year lapse in production.

This will be tough for many producers that don’t have the money to buy seedlings to replant their farms, or the means to survive for the three years it takes to see new trees through to harvest.  This year, some countries are reporting that 10 -50% of their farms are effected by Roya, causing a massive reduction in harvest.  But the worst is still to come, as the trees which did produce this year must be cut down.

This is where fair trade and co-operatives become so important.  We were impressed with the proactiveness of the four co-ops we visited, and the social development programmes the co-ops had developed to support their members through tough times like these.   PRODECOOP, a Nicaraguan co-op, was a perfect example of this.  We visited a health clinic that was originally set up for diagnosing cancer in women, but has since developed its services to meet the many needs in the remote community.  We also visited some food banks, where members could sell their beans and corn at harvest time, and loan it back when food supply was scarce.

Another very important program run by PRODECOOP was food growing diversification.  The ability to grow quality food is so important.  It is the reason that many farmers can continue to farm at a loss during the tough times.  Traditionally, corn and beans are the main food grown by farmers, but this is not a full healthy diet, so the co-op is modeling and teaching their coffee farmers to diversity their food crops.

By supporting co-ops who run programmes like these, I hope that in years to come there will still be quality coffee to buy from these regions, co-ops and countries – not just Brazil and Vietnam, who are the biggest global producers and are mainly growing commodity grade coffee.

For me, these harvest trips are an opportunity to learn about the realities of farming specialty coffee in a commodity market, and to ensure that our business objectives reflect these requirements.  Through direct conversation with farmers, agronomists, mill staff, cuppers, and co-op managers, we try to get a full picture of farmers’ lives, production practices and issues in the region.

Through our business objectives, we hope to lessen the influence of foreign exchange rates and the ever changing coffee price on the stock exchange, and to address the realities of production in the price we pay for our coffee.  Peoples Coffee is committed to working with producers on our common goal: to sustainably produce better quality coffee, with better yields, at prices well above the cost of production.  We believe that through our trade we CAN and NEED to have a positive impact on our partners who produce this product we all love.

 

René Macaulay


March 20th, 2013


Posted In: Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability, Trips

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Progressing our position as leading fair traders

Fair trade has always been at the heart of our business.

After eight years in the coffee trade, we remain captivated by the idea that our company can positively impact and better represent the smallest and most marginalized coffee producers in the world.

Our focus is on small-lot coffee producers, not on private estates, plantations or larger family-owned farms.  Our farmers each work with 1-2 hectares of land and are all owner/members of cooperatives. It is a priority for us that these small-lot farmers, who produce some 70% of the world’s coffee, can live sustainably and with dignity, and can determine their own futures and decisions as much as possible.

At Peoples Coffee we have set a high bar for ourselves as fair traders, and now we want to raise it even further.

We purchase only fair trade certified, organic coffees from small farmer cooperatives around the globe. We travel annually to origin, and have visited all the cooperatives we buy from at least once.  We hear and document farmers’ stories firsthand to understand the challenges they face, hear how well our trade is working for them, and to share in their dreams for themselves, their children and their communities.

This year, we are excited to share our next step on this journey to support and show solidarity with small farmers, and to deepen and create new possibilities for progressive fair trade in coffee.

Peoples Coffee are now signed, paid and fully-fledged members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).
Not to be confused with the WTO, the WFTO is not run by cavalier bankers or Wall Street cronies; rather it is the leading authority on fair trade across trading commodities and is small producer focused and engaged.

Shifting focus from individually certified products, WFTO membership is solely for those whose entire organization exists primarily to support small producers. The only other business in New Zealand to be a full member of the WFTO is (unsurprisingly) Trade Aid.

We are stepping up our position to pioneer new ways of supporting small coffee farmers. In a consumer world where fair trade messages are regularly watered down, falsely appropriated, and even written off as a passing fad, we are strengthening our unique position as progressive fair traders, not sitting around waiting for the market to dictate its terms to us.

What does this mean for our customers?

The FLO certification mark will no longer be on our packaging or be part of our branding. The Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) recognizes WFTO members as genuine fair traders, so rather than holding two independent certifications, we have simply chosen the one that better fits our unique position as a 100% fair trade principled and driven company, not just a line of fair trade products. The WFTO will launch a product mark in 2013 for customers who like to have a guarantee mark on their bags.

Our WFTO status will enable us to define more clearly the issues facing small farmers today and into the future, and to work with others to deepen the fair trade movement.  We will continue to be members of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ), and will remain actively engaged in the Wellington Fair Trade City Trust.

This move also gives our business more focus. We now have policy drivers from the WFTO that require us to continually question how we can do a better job of supporting producers, advocating for fair trade, and showing more business transparency in these endeavours. The WFTO’s ten principles of fair trade will be a clear and annually present guide for asking the hard questions of ourselves, and how well we are performing as a fair trade business.

We think of this as part of our growing up as a business, as coffee professionals, and as people wanting to give small producers around the world a fighting chance of having a progressive and sustained way of life in the coffee trade.

In short, we want to be better at being who we are.
 We hope that you, our customers and supporters, hold us to nothing less.

Matt Lamason                      Liv Doogue
Director/Founder               General Manager


January 16th, 2013


Posted In: Branding, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade

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Progressing our position as leading fair traders

Fair trade has always been at the heart of our business.

After eight years in the coffee trade, we remain captivated by the idea that our company can positively impact and better represent the smallest and most marginalized coffee producers in the world.

Our focus is on small-lot coffee producers, not on private estates, plantations or larger family-owned farms.  Our farmers each work with 1-2 hectares of land and are all owner/members of cooperatives. It is a priority for us that these small-lot farmers, who produce some 70% of the world’s coffee, can live sustainably and with dignity, and can determine their own futures and decisions as much as possible.

At Peoples Coffee we have set a high bar for ourselves as fair traders, and now we want to raise it even further.

We purchase only fair trade certified, organic coffees from small farmer cooperatives around the globe. We travel annually to origin, and have visited all the cooperatives we buy from at least once.  We hear and document farmers’ stories firsthand to understand the challenges they face, hear how well our trade is working for them, and to share in their dreams for themselves, their children and their communities.

This year, we are excited to share our next step on this journey to support and show solidarity with small farmers, and to deepen and create new possibilities for progressive fair trade in coffee.

Peoples Coffee are now signed, paid and fully-fledged members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).
Not to be confused with the WTO, the WFTO is not run by cavalier bankers or Wall Street cronies; rather it is the leading authority on fair trade across trading commodities and is small producer focused and engaged.

Shifting focus from individually certified products, WFTO membership is solely for those whose entire organization exists primarily to support small producers. The only other business in New Zealand to be a full member of the WFTO is (unsurprisingly) Trade Aid.

We are stepping up our position to pioneer new ways of supporting small coffee farmers. In a consumer world where fair trade messages are regularly watered down, falsely appropriated, and even written off as a passing fad, we are strengthening our unique position as progressive fair traders, not sitting around waiting for the market to dictate its terms to us.

What does this mean for our customers?

The FLO certification mark will no longer be on our packaging or be part of our branding. The Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) recognizes WFTO members as genuine fair traders, so rather than holding two independent certifications, we have simply chosen the one that better fits our unique position as a 100% fair trade principled and driven company, not just a line of fair trade products. The WFTO will launch a product mark in 2013 for customers who like to have a guarantee mark on their bags.

Our WFTO status will enable us to define more clearly the issues facing small farmers today and into the future, and to work with others to deepen the fair trade movement.  We will continue to be members of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ), and will remain actively engaged in the Wellington Fair Trade City Trust.

This move also gives our business more focus. We now have policy drivers from the WFTO that require us to continually question how we can do a better job of supporting producers, advocating for fair trade, and showing more business transparency in these endeavours. The WFTO’s ten principles of fair trade will be a clear and annually present guide for asking the hard questions of ourselves, and how well we are performing as a fair trade business.

We think of this as part of our growing up as a business, as coffee professionals, and as people wanting to give small producers around the world a fighting chance of having a progressive and sustained way of life in the coffee trade.

In short, we want to be better at being who we are.
 We hope that you, our customers and supporters, hold us to nothing less.

Matt Lamason                      Liv Doogue
Director/Founder               General Manager


January 16th, 2013


Posted In: Branding, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade

Tags:

6 Comments

Progressing our position as leading fair traders

Fair trade has always been at the heart of our business.

After eight years in the coffee trade, we remain captivated by the idea that our company can positively impact and better represent the smallest and most marginalized coffee producers in the world.

Our focus is on small-lot coffee producers, not on private estates, plantations or larger family-owned farms.  Our farmers each work with 1-2 hectares of land and are all owner/members of cooperatives. It is a priority for us that these small-lot farmers, who produce some 70% of the world’s coffee, can live sustainably and with dignity, and can determine their own futures and decisions as much as possible.

At Peoples Coffee we have set a high bar for ourselves as fair traders, and now we want to raise it even further.

We purchase only fair trade certified, organic coffees from small farmer cooperatives around the globe. We travel annually to origin, and have visited all the cooperatives we buy from at least once.  We hear and document farmers’ stories firsthand to understand the challenges they face, hear how well our trade is working for them, and to share in their dreams for themselves, their children and their communities.

This year, we are excited to share our next step on this journey to support and show solidarity with small farmers, and to deepen and create new possibilities for progressive fair trade in coffee.

Peoples Coffee are now signed, paid and fully-fledged members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).
Not to be confused with the WTO, the WFTO is not run by cavalier bankers or Wall Street cronies; rather it is the leading authority on fair trade across trading commodities and is small producer focused and engaged.

Shifting focus from individually certified products, WFTO membership is solely for those whose entire organization exists primarily to support small producers. The only other business in New Zealand to be a full member of the WFTO is (unsurprisingly) Trade Aid.

We are stepping up our position to pioneer new ways of supporting small coffee farmers. In a consumer world where fair trade messages are regularly watered down, falsely appropriated, and even written off as a passing fad, we are strengthening our unique position as progressive fair traders, not sitting around waiting for the market to dictate its terms to us.

What does this mean for our customers?

The FLO certification mark will no longer be on our packaging or be part of our branding. The Fairtrade Labelling Organization (FLO) recognizes WFTO members as genuine fair traders, so rather than holding two independent certifications, we have simply chosen the one that better fits our unique position as a 100% fair trade principled and driven company, not just a line of fair trade products. The WFTO will launch a product mark in 2013 for customers who like to have a guarantee mark on their bags.

Our WFTO status will enable us to define more clearly the issues facing small farmers today and into the future, and to work with others to deepen the fair trade movement.  We will continue to be members of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand (FTAANZ), and will remain actively engaged in the Wellington Fair Trade City Trust.

This move also gives our business more focus. We now have policy drivers from the WFTO that require us to continually question how we can do a better job of supporting producers, advocating for fair trade, and showing more business transparency in these endeavours. The WFTO’s ten principles of fair trade will be a clear and annually present guide for asking the hard questions of ourselves, and how well we are performing as a fair trade business.

We think of this as part of our growing up as a business, as coffee professionals, and as people wanting to give small producers around the world a fighting chance of having a progressive and sustained way of life in the coffee trade.

In short, we want to be better at being who we are.
 We hope that you, our customers and supporters, hold us to nothing less.

Matt Lamason                      Liv Doogue
Director/Founder               General Manager


January 16th, 2013


Posted In: Branding, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade

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After three months shrouded in mystery and polyurethane, the brand new Peoples Coffee Constable St store is just days away from unveiling its bigger, better and brighter refit.

“People have been peeking through the windows ever since the plastic went up,” says store manager Eileen.  “I get asked every five minutes what’s going on inside and when the new store is opening.”

And the answer is…(drumroll please)…Monday!

As for what’s going on inside, well, you’ll just have to come take a look for yourself.  But I can tell you this much: the store is barely recognisable from its former incarnation.  The crew at Peoples have taken the best of the old Constable St store, combined it with the best of Brewtown, and created the best thing since the everlasting gobstopper (and highly preferable in that it actually exists).

The new store will offer all the espresso you already know and love, with the addition of a new range of single origin espresso.   The baristas will also be brewing up a large selection of non-pressurised coffee, including V60s, Chemex, and (wait for it)…Trifecta coffee.

The Trifecta is a mechanised method of non-pressurised brewing that’s taking the coffee world by storm.  It allows the barista to precisely control and tailor the brewing conditions to each single origin, to best showcase the unique flavours of each bean.

“We’ll be the first place in Wellington to start using the Trifecta,” says Eileen.  “We can’t wait.”

The new store will also offer a fresh selection of scones, pastries and sandwiches, as well as Six Barrel Soda and Karma Cola (the world’s first fair trade organic cola!).
Plus Cold Flat Whites are back for the summer!

And there will be a lot more space to sit and enjoy this huge variety of food and drink, both inside the spacious new store, and out in the sunshine on Constable Street.

“We have a lot of history in Newtown,” says Eileen, “but this new store will bring so much more variety to the experience.”

“It will be a place where people can learn about coffee; where it comes from and how its brewed.”

Join us for the launch!  We’ll be celebrating with music and light refreshments next Friday 16th November from 6pm.


November 7th, 2012


Posted In: Branding, Brewing, Cafes, Coffee, Constable Street, Fair trade

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After three months shrouded in mystery and polyurethane, the brand new Peoples Coffee Constable St store is just days away from unveiling its bigger, better and brighter refit.

“People have been peeking through the windows ever since the plastic went up,” says store manager Eileen.  “I get asked every five minutes what’s going on inside and when the new store is opening.”

And the answer is…(drumroll please)…Monday!

As for what’s going on inside, well, you’ll just have to come take a look for yourself.  But I can tell you this much: the store is barely recognisable from its former incarnation.  The crew at Peoples have taken the best of the old Constable St store, combined it with the best of Brewtown, and created the best thing since the everlasting gobstopper (and highly preferable in that it actually exists).

The new store will offer all the espresso you already know and love, with the addition of a new range of single origin espresso.   The baristas will also be brewing up a large selection of non-pressurised coffee, including V60s, Chemex, and (wait for it)…Trifecta coffee.

The Trifecta is a mechanised method of non-pressurised brewing that’s taking the coffee world by storm.  It allows the barista to precisely control and tailor the brewing conditions to each single origin, to best showcase the unique flavours of each bean.

“We’ll be the first place in Wellington to start using the Trifecta,” says Eileen.  “We can’t wait.”

The new store will also offer a fresh selection of scones, pastries and sandwiches, as well as Six Barrel Soda and Karma Cola (the world’s first fair trade organic cola!).
Plus Cold Flat Whites are back for the summer!

And there will be a lot more space to sit and enjoy this huge variety of food and drink, both inside the spacious new store, and out in the sunshine on Constable Street.

“We have a lot of history in Newtown,” says Eileen, “but this new store will bring so much more variety to the experience.”

“It will be a place where people can learn about coffee; where it comes from and how its brewed.”

Join us for the launch!  We’ll be celebrating with music and light refreshments next Friday 16th November from 6pm.


November 7th, 2012


Posted In: Branding, Brewing, Cafes, Coffee, Constable Street, Fair trade

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3 Comments

After three months shrouded in mystery and polyurethane, the brand new Peoples Coffee Constable St store is just days away from unveiling its bigger, better and brighter refit.

“People have been peeking through the windows ever since the plastic went up,” says store manager Eileen.  “I get asked every five minutes what’s going on inside and when the new store is opening.”

And the answer is…(drumroll please)…Monday!

As for what’s going on inside, well, you’ll just have to come take a look for yourself.  But I can tell you this much: the store is barely recognisable from its former incarnation.  The crew at Peoples have taken the best of the old Constable St store, combined it with the best of Brewtown, and created the best thing since the everlasting gobstopper (and highly preferable in that it actually exists).

The new store will offer all the espresso you already know and love, with the addition of a new range of single origin espresso.   The baristas will also be brewing up a large selection of non-pressurised coffee, including V60s, Chemex, and (wait for it)…Trifecta coffee.

The Trifecta is a mechanised method of non-pressurised brewing that’s taking the coffee world by storm.  It allows the barista to precisely control and tailor the brewing conditions to each single origin, to best showcase the unique flavours of each bean.

“We’ll be the first place in Wellington to start using the Trifecta,” says Eileen.  “We can’t wait.”

The new store will also offer a fresh selection of scones, pastries and sandwiches, as well as Six Barrel Soda and Karma Cola (the world’s first fair trade organic cola!).
Plus Cold Flat Whites are back for the summer!

And there will be a lot more space to sit and enjoy this huge variety of food and drink, both inside the spacious new store, and out in the sunshine on Constable Street.

“We have a lot of history in Newtown,” says Eileen, “but this new store will bring so much more variety to the experience.”

“It will be a place where people can learn about coffee; where it comes from and how its brewed.”

Join us for the launch!  We’ll be celebrating with music and light refreshments next Friday 16th November from 6pm.


November 7th, 2012


Posted In: Branding, Brewing, Cafes, Coffee, Constable Street, Fair trade

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It all began with a sneaky remark on my part, not so subtlety expressing my interest in learning how to roast coffee and before I knew it, I was standing in front of the big monster (the probat UG 22kg roaster) with Rene teaching me the basic ins and outs of the roast process.

I think roasting appealed to me because of my past life being a film projectionist, I’ve drawn many parallels between the two and the biggest rule I’ve learned has been to pay attention, and if you do, it will usually all work out swimmingly.

It was all a bit daunting in the beginning; every answer provided another two questions in my mind! There’s a lot to keep your eye on during the roast and the feeling of “oh man, I hope I don’t ruin this, beans aren’t cheap!” And the added extra fun of manning (or woman-ing) both roasters at the same time. I have to say, the best part is the sweet, sweet smell that the beans so lovingly provide as they’re going into first crack.

Along with the actual roasting, reading and cupping have been a huge part of the learning process. Reading up how the coffee cherry begins it’s journey from origin all they way to the customers cup and of course the correct terminology is always good to know. Cupping each roast certainly helps tie the entire process together and see how the many variables (and there are lots) during the roast can affect the flavour you can taste in the cup, from sweet fruit and citrus to caramel and chocolate. Although it took me a couple of weeks to pluck up the courage to taste my own roast, but rest-assured they had Rene’s stamp of approval.

Roasting has opened up my eyes, there’s so much to learn, it really doesn’t stop. It’s been an awesome experience so far; learning origin stories and the processes they use when harvesting the cherries to cupping to the technical science of roasting.

There’s just so much more, I think I’m turning into a coffee nerd.

By Dayna

 


October 16th, 2012


Posted In: Coffee, Coffee geek out, Fair trade

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Kiwis are crazy about bananas.  We spend over $142 million each year on bananas alone, and  import more bananas (per capita) than any other country in the world.¹

But it’s no great secret that there are serious problems in the banana industry.  Over the last twenty years, the majority of small-scale farmers have been squeezed out of the market by the big gun banana companies (you know the ones) – and the majority of people working on those plantations are overworked, underpaid (most plantation workers earn less than $3 per day!) and overexposed to harmful pesticides.²

So until recently, the only truly ethical choice when it came to bananas, was not to eat them.  So it was a relief when a fair trade option finally appeared on our supermarket shelves.
In 2010, All Good Bananas began importing certified Fairtrade bananas from the El Guabo cooperative in Ecuador, and my friends and I were only too happy to pay a little more to know that we weren’t exploiting growers in the two-thirds world.

But given that bananas are such big business here, it’s no surprise that competitors weren’t too thrilled to have this new kid on the block.
Sure enough, only a few months after All Good Bananas appeared on supermarket shelves, Dole NZ rolled out a new ‘Ethical Choice’ branding.  New Zealand consumers were now presented with two seemingly ethical options – one of which, tellingly, was still as cheap as its non-ethical competitors.

In reality, the only change Dole had made to their modus operandi was to slap pretty new labels on their bananas (and pineapples).  This is another classic example of greenwashing; of a company using deceptive marketing to appeal to those consumers who genuinely want to make ethical purchasing decisions.  I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with people who bought Dole bananas thinking they really were making an ethical choice.  Why did they think this?  Not because they’re stupid; because they were misled by a company more concerned with amassing profits than paying their workers a living wage.

So I was gratified when the issue hit the media earlier this month, after the Commerce Commission issued Dole with a compliance letter raising concerns about their ‘Ethical Choice’ marketing.   The letter stated that the stickers misled consumers to believe that Dole bananas were certified by an independent third party (which they aren’t), and made their bananas seem more ethical than their competitors (which they aren’t).

And what have Dole done about it?  Well, nothing.  They’ve kept their stickers on the bananas and the bananas on the shelves – safe in their assumption that most shoppers are too busy to question whether the marketing is true.

This highlights again just how important it is for us as consumers to take responsibility for questioning and researching the products that we buy.

“It’s really hard for consumers to understand what has been greenwashed, and what is the truth,” says Chris Morrison, from All Good Bananas.  “That’s why we think independent verification is so important.”

“Those companies that do go the extra mile and pay a little bit more to be certified should be supported.”

You can find out more about our friends at All Good Bananas, and where to buy their bananas,  here.

What do you think?  Are you more likely to buy a product marketed as ethical?  How often do you question or research the products you buy?  Tell us here!

 

A huge thanks to Sam Mahayni, All Good Bananas for the photos of the banana growers at origin.

1. http://www.duncancotterill.com/index.cfm/1,159,764,43,html/Ethical-Bananas
2. http://www.bananalink.org.uk/the-problem-with-bananas


August 22nd, 2012


Posted In: Branding, Cooperatives, Fair trade, Sustainability

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A little while ago, I was asked to make chemex coffee at a fair trade event I was going to.  This elicited two equal and opposite reactions in me; pride, and fear.
The organisers thought I was a coffee expert!  But also, the organisers thought I was a coffee expert!!

I drink a lot of chemex, so I know how it’s supposed to taste.  The problem was, at that moment I had never actually made a chemex myself, and I had no idea how to get it to taste that way.  So I smiled sweetly, agreed graciously, and then hot-footed it round to Peoples Constable St to enlist the help of a real expert.

I commandeered Steve, who spent an hour patiently talking me through the art to a perfect chemex.  After brewing and drinking multiple jugs of coffee, my nerves were sufficiently soothed – in a shaky, over-caffeinated kind of way.

And here it is!  Chemex 101, courtesy of Steve, my new best friend.

1.  Prepare:
Open up the filter and lay it in the coffeemaker, so that the double layer is on the same side as the spout.  Pour hot water through the filter until it’s completely saturated.  This ensures that the coffee won’t be tainted with any papery flavours, and has the added benefit of warming the jug before you start (tip this out again).

2. Measure:
A chemex demands a coarser grind than a plunger, similar to the texture of coarse salt.
The golden rule for a chemex is one part coffee to fifteen parts water.  For a small (3 cup) chemex, that’s 24g coffee to 400 ml water.  (For a large 6 cup chemex, use 45g coffee:675 ml water).  Give the jug a gentle shake to settle out the grinds.

3. Pour:
Pour a small amount (about 80-100 mLs) of hot (not boiling) water over the coffee grinds and give them a stir, to completely saturate the coffee.  Once that has bloomed for thirty seconds or so, pour more water in until the water level is about two inches from the top of the filter.  Stir again gently.

The trick to a good chemex is to pour the water in a tight outward spiral.  Called “riding the bloom,” this creates turbulence and agitation, which helps extract the good flavours out of the coffee.
Steve cautions me to avoid hitting the paper filter directly.  “Keep it close to the edge without actually touching the paper,”  he says.  “Otherwise it will filter straight through into the jug without touching the coffee.”

4.  Top up:
As the coffee streams down into the jug, the ‘coffee bed’ will start to settle.  Keep topping the water up to the initial line (two inches from the top) until you have used all the water.  Once you’ve finished pouring, give the coffee three smooth circular stirs and let the water finish extracting.  If you’ve done a good job, the coffee grinds left in the filter should form a shallow dome.  When the extraction slows to a drip, remove the filter and serve.  This should take about 4 minutes all up (for the 3 cup chemex).

5. Drink!
The flavour profile of chemex coffee changes and sweetens as it cools.  So it’s definitely the kind of coffee to sit down and linger over.

Which is exactly what I do – once I have sufficiently convinced the fair trade community of my newfound expertise, that is.

THANK YOU STEVE.

(You can pick up everything you need to make a great chemex here)


August 8th, 2012


Posted In: Brewing, Coffee, Coffee geek out, Fair trade

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5 Comments

I jump behind the espresso machine with Dave Lamason and a copy of Peoples Coffee’s brand new book, still warm from the printing press.  Authored by Dave, the new Peoples Coffee Barista Handbook is a kind of Swiss army knife for the espresso lover: what Dave calls a “no bullshit” approach to getting the best out of an espresso machine and making a straight up good coffee.  It’s a quick reference guide for the café barista, but it’s also a must-read for any home coffee enthusiast.

And it’s a piece of work that was five years in the making.  Dave first sat down back in 2007 and started pulling out of his head the years of knowledge he’d gained from working and experimenting with espresso machines.  He bashed it out on an old computer over a number of hours and weeks.

“And then…the computer broke.  I lost it all.  I was devastated.”

It was another two years before he decided to sit down and do it all over again.
So when I ask Dave how he feels now that it’s finally published, he laughs and says, “Relieved.  It’s bloody fantastic.”

If I had written this book, twice, I would keep it locked in a trophy case and make people wear gloves to touch it.  But Dave is adamant that it is a book to be used and abused.  He emphasises his point by setting it down in a puddle of coffee.  (I love his attitude.  I do.  But that doesn’t stop me from letting out a girly shriek and snatching it up again).

Dave’s experience as a barista trainer, and his love for tinkering with coffee machines and busting espresso myths, make him the ideal person to write a barista guide.

“I wrote it as if the reader was in an extended training session with me. I like talking a lot in my training, so I thought, if I can just put that into words, it might read nicely.”

It does.  Dave has what my mother calls ‘the gift of the gab’ – and the book’s simple and personal style definitely reflects that.

“We were even going to call the book ‘Dave’ because it was so personal,” he tells me.  “It took months to bring it back to the third person, but you can still see my tone of voice running through the text.”

This is a barista guide with a difference. As well as the practical espresso methodology and trouble-shooting guide, the book tells the story of the coffee farmers themselves, and how Peoples Coffee has traded with them over the last seven years.  And it’s full of illustrated design and glossy photos of the coffee producers at origin.

Come and join us for the launch!
Peoples Coffee are holding an official book launch at Unity Books next Thursday 19th July at 6pm (join the facebook event here!).
New Zealand 2012 Barista Champion Aymon McQuade will be there to officially launch the book.
You are warmly invited to join us for a glass of wine, as we raise a toast to Dave, Dan, Boofa, Gemma, Matt, and the many people who worked on this book.

Further copies will be available for purchase on our website, at Unity Books, Vic books (Victoria University), Lamason Brew Bar,  and Peoples Constable st.


July 11th, 2012


Posted In: Branding, Cafes, Coffee, Fair trade, Publications

2 Comments

It’s never easy coming home after the holidays, but if there’s one thing that made it easier this year, it was the coffee (or, more accurately, the lack of good coffee elsewhere).
Now, I don’t consider myself a coffee snob by any stretch of the imagination, but after three weeks out of Wellington, I was ready to pitch my tent in the middle of Peoples Coffee, curl up on a sack of coffee beans, and never leave again.

And to make my homecoming even sweeter, I found that the little elves at Peoples had been busy brewing up a few surprises over the holidays…starting with Brewtown!

Brewtown is a Peoples Coffee Pop-Up store, temporarily bringing fresh, single-origin filter coffee to the streets of Newtown.  If you haven’t yet jumped on the non-pressurised coffee bandwagon, now’s your chance, people!   You’ve already heard me raving about the purity and goodness of the mighty V60, and you can try one here, along with chemex and cold drip, at Wellington’s first brew bar to specialise exclusively in filter coffee.

Which might seem a little crazy, given that filter coffee hasn’t always had the best reputation in New Zealand.  If you’re anything like me, the words ‘filter coffee’ evoke images of American diners with checked tablecloths, ill-tempered waitresses, and the sort of lukewarm bitter coffee found lurking in office staffrooms of the nineties.

But trust me, one visit to Brewtown will change all that.  For a start, Danny the barista could not be further from a ill-tempered woman.  He’s nice, he wants to answer all your burning questions about non-pressurised coffee, and he’s got cold-drip coffee brewing in the front window that he’ll let you taste for free!  And once you’ve figured out your favourite, you can buy your own brewing tools and learn how to replicate it at home.

What’s more, the United Nations have named 2012 “Year of the Co-operative”, so Brewtown couldn’t be more timely.  All Peoples Coffee comes from small producers who are part of fair trade cooperatives.  While espresso coffee uses a blend of coffee beans, filter coffee showcases beans from a single origin, so you can taste the unique flavours of beans grown in different regions of the coffee world.
“Their coffee is a way of telling their story” says director Matt Lamason.  “Single origins are a way to promote our co-operatives, and connect consumers with our coffee farmers.”

Keep a lookout on the Peoples facebook page, because Rene (the Peoples Coffee roaster) will be doing weekly cuppings of different fair trade organic coffees, and you’re all invited.

“A Pop-Up store lets us trial something we wouldn’t normally do with a shop” says Matt.   “We want to see if Newtown is ready for filter coffee.”

So what do you say?  Are you ready to for it?  Get yourself down to Brewtown for a taste, and then tell me, tell me, tell me!  Leave us your feedback below.  I want to know how you rate filter coffee, and how you think it compares to espresso.  (But you’d better get your skates on, because pop-up stores tend to pop down again, when you least expect it…).

Brewtown is open Tue – Sat, 9am – 5pm.  You’ll find it at 12 Constable St, Newtown (right next to the espresso store).


January 25th, 2012


Posted In: Brewing, Cafes, Coffee, Cooperatives, Fair trade

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3 Comments

Have you noticed that fair trade is popping up just about everywhere these days?  Coffee, bananas,  chocolate, sugar; we’re positively spoiled for choice!  Even the big gun multinationals are touting pretty ethical labels!
Does this mean our years of prodding everyone we know with fairly traded sticks has paid off?  Have multinationals finally traded profit for justice? Has big business finally found its conscience?

…can pigs fly?

This week I joined the Peoples crew to meet a man who’s been a pioneer in fair trade for over 35 years: Trade Aid NZ’s general manager, Geoff White.
He didn’t mince his words.
“Fair trade has been taken over by the certifiers.  As the big players have come in, we’ve let them take over and determine what it is.”

So while consumers should be applauded for increasingly opting for products with traceable and ethical supply chains, it has paradoxically created a valuable market that big business want their slice of.   And the enormous clout of multinational supermarkets and food corporations means that fair trade has seen a departure from value-led business, to ‘business as usual’.

Which explains why so many greenwashed companies have flooded the marketplace, and why every second product claims to be ‘certified this’ and ‘accredited that’.  It’s little wonder that customers no longer know what to believe, or who to trust.

This storm has been brewing in the fair trade world for some time.  In October this year, TransFair (the governing body for all fair trade certification in the USA) announced a unilateral split from the leading fair trade certifier FLO, stating its intention to extend fair trade to include plantations and factories (typically owned by wealthy land owners, and even multinational food corporations).  And fair trade cooperatives, which consist of small scale farmers with a moderate supply capacity, just can’t compete with these big-gun producers.
So what happens?   The small farmers lose out in a market that was designed and built specifically for their own empowerment, that’s what.

But don’t throw in the towel just yet!  While this may all seem quite dire, Geoff reminds us that “it’s crisis that breeds change.”   He believes that consumers are smart, and in tough economic times like these, are asking more questions about the values companies claim to uphold.
“There are challenging times ahead, but that’s where the relationship [with producers] becomes so important,” says Geoff.  “Fair trade is a trust-based system, based on relationships with people.  That’s what we’ve got to maintain.”

And Peoples can testify to the importance of these direct relationships.  Since their outset, they’ve travelled to more than eleven coffee lands with Trade Aid to meet the farmers themselves, and have seen firsthand the hope and change that their coffee trade is party to.

So what is the future of fair trade?  Well, Geoff is uncertain.  But one thing’s for sure:
“Producers need to determine where fair trade goes, because it’s for their benefit.”

Sounds fair to me.

 

 

So we’re curious, how do you decide what goes in your shopping basket?
Do you look out for the Fairtrade label, or choose a product because you trust the company?  How much do the values of a business affect your shopping choices?

Tell us what you think!  Leave a comment below.

This blog was a collaboration between Matt Lamason and Anna Costley.


December 7th, 2011


Posted In: Coffee, Fair trade

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5 Comments