The current world population is 7,255 million people, and that number is growing by about 1 million per week. Australia’s population is 0.3% of the planet yet according to the United States Department of Agriculture, we managed to consume more than 1% of the world’s exported coffee.
We do love our coffee!
This year Australia will import 75 million kilograms of green coffee beans, which even allowing for wastage will yield about 60 million kilograms of roasted coffee, and this figure is growing by about 4% annually.
Being a good corporate citizen and a conscientious consumer is important to many people, and there are dozens of coffee causes and somewhat ethical certifications available in the market today. You can buy bird, tree or frog friendly coffee, along with coffee that’s only picked by women or coffee that was allegedly traded fairer than it has been previously, but do you really know where or how much of your money is going to where it’s needed?
Most of the coffee certifications are administered by Non-Government Organisations (NGO) or Non Profit Organisation (NPO). What isn’t obvious on the surface is that both NGOs and NPOs consume piles of cash in wages, administration, accounting, marketing and other business overheads. They were often started with the noblest ideas, but some have grown into fat global monsters that barely resemble the original intentions of the group. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can reasonably easily find the annual financial reports of most of these certification bodies, and a quick read will show you where vast amounts of money goes.
So which one should you align with? Should you promote the certification brand that your consumers know the best, or use a different method that has more real impact on the ground?
In the early days of CoffeeSnobs, we aligned with one of the very well known certifications then after reading their annual report, I was shocked and disillusioned with the amount of wastage they had in plush capital city offices and expensive business class trips to origin. This was the trigger to start a better method, one with open book accounting, zero administrative overheads and a goal of getting 100% of the money raised on the ground to do the most good.
FairCrack was born seven years ago, and our customers embraced it with passion. The premise is simple: 50 cents from every kilogram we sell goes into a pot. That pot of money is then used to purchase equipment for coffee villages to better process their coffee. Better coffee yields a higher price at market, so the people we have helped with machinery continue to reap the rewards year after year and as a bonus, we get to enjoy great coffee. The real beauty of this system is that no one notices 50 cents on a kilogram; it really doesn’t hurt the seller or the buyer, yet a year of 50 cent transactions adds up quickly and can make a tremendous difference to others for many years to come.
To date, FairCrack has sponsored $100,000 of amazing projects on the ground and have another $40,000 heading for the next ones. If we work with the coffee figures at the start of this story, Australia could potentially raise $30,000,000 every year to spend at origin. This would be life changing and life saving for thousands of coffee producing families.
So why not start your own?
Pick a donation figure, pick a product, and put the money aside from every sale. In your business you could have a running total written on the wall for all your customers to see, and in no time you will have enough to do something amazing on the ground. Sharing that excitement with your customers makes all the effort worthwhile, and I’m sure you will also walk a little taller in the knowledge that 100% of the dollars raised did great things.
About the Author
Andy Freeman owns and runs coffeesnobs.com.au
Fresh roasted coffee, green beans and Australia’s biggest coffee forum.