A simple question with an annoyingly long answer (that the point of these Q&As right 😏)

Yes, we often have a great deal of fair trade and organic certified coffee rotating through our offerings. In the last few months, for example, our Guatemala: MOCCI COMAL, Honduras: Coop Raos, Guatemala: ASDECAFE, Sumatra: Kopepi: Ketiara, Costa Rica: Café Vida were all fair trade and/or organic certified coffees.

But no, we do not exclusively focus on certifications when purchasing green because it would eliminate an entire sector of small lot farms. Part of my sourcing mandate is to seek out partnerships with farms and cooperatives who have strong environmental, economic, and social justice initiatives regardless of scale or certification.

Both organic and fair-trade accreditation’s originate from third party organizations meaning they cost a great deal of money. Unfortunately, a number of recent studies demonstrate that these expensive third party certifications fail to supply better living wages to farmers.  Hence when buying green, I work with farms who we can compensate with typically higher prices than fair trade.

I realize the importance of certification from a customer point-of-view as it is often a good way to seek quality coffees (especially in non-specialty contexts) and that this is a mouthful to explain to customers but we seek to work with farms that do not simple have a badge but progressive policies on environmental (protection of natural forest water conservation, sustainable farming, etc.) and social (farms who pay hourly rather than by weight, create infrastructure for workers like schools or medical clinics, progressive gender policies, etc.) fronts.

I grew up in Saskatchewan, so I take the politics of farming pretty seriously and continue to buy accordingly.

tl;dr: through research and due diligence, we work with farms or cooperatives with social and environmental mandates on par (or that supersede) third party certifications but we don’t have cool stickers on our bags.

(Image from Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris [1972])