A simple concept that for years eluded the international coffee industry was sustainability. For centuries those planting and harvesting coffee in countries all around the world received less than 2% of the selling price of a cup of coffee. This situation wasn’t sustainable and was exploitive. At Hockley Valley Coffee Roasters one of our core values is ensuring that the farmers supplying our beans are paid a premium. With these premiums, family farmers are better able to improve the standard of living of their family. When farmers can provide education, health care and good living conditions for their family, we call this sustainability. When families are sustained, so too are their land, their environment and their commitment to improve the quality of their product.
Farm Gate Direct brings micro coffee roasters together to define whom and what Fairly Traded is truly all about. The movement brings together coffee importers and coffee farmers and their families by embracing sustainable farming practices.
Farm Gate Direct coffees are purchased from family farms and ethical importers who share our concern for social and environmental issues.
Farm Gate Direct coffees are all grown under shade canopy, supporting hundreds of species of birds and wildlife. Organic and bird friendly certifications are important factors in increasing the price farmers are able to obtain for their coffee.
Fair trade is a state of mind, and the intent is to create beneficial trading relationships with coffee farmers. It is not a set of rules that can be determined and written down. Farm Gate Direct seeks to establish and strengthen long term supportive and cooperative bonds between trading partners and it works.
What is Bird Friendly and Shade Grown Coffee?
Bird friendly coffee is grown on farms under a shade-tree canopy, forest-like habitat.
Bird friendly coffee mostly benefits neo-tropical migratory songbirds that winter in Central America rainforests. Habitat losses, especially tropical rainforests, have caused a decline in migratory songbird populations. And sun coffee plantations have significantly contributed to this loss.
Historically, coffee was originally grown under shade. These coffee plant species were sun intolerant requiring shade. But in 1972, new hybrid, sun-tolerant coffee varieties were developed that yielded 2-3 times more coffee beans than shade grown varieties. More coffee meant more money which led to more clear cutting shade farms and rainforest habitat. Of the 6 million acres of coffee lands, 60 % have been stripped of shade trees since 1972. Farmers have since learned that more coffee leads to an over-supply and lower prices for their beans. The move to shade grown, bird friendly beans allows farmers to receive a premium for producing fewer but higher quality and more environmentally and socially sustainable product. It works and Hockley Valley Coffee Roasters supports this approach through its core value to only purchase shade grown bird friendly beans.
When Paying a Premium Through Fair Trade to Farmers is Still Not Enough
Grinding poverty, social injustice, crumbling or non- existent infrastructure is the reality for the vast majority of family farmers in the coffee trade. We believe that the farmers and their family who have worked hard to produce a better quality coffee experience for our customers are our partners and should be treated with the same integrity and respect that we extend to our customers. Thats why through the Hockley Valley Coffee Foundation™ we set aside 25 cents for every bag of coffee we roast and deliver it directly to the community that has given us their hard work and commitment. With better education, and health care, clean water and social justice comes a better tasting coffee. It’s simply the right thing to do — it makes our business more fulfilling, interesting and completes your perfect cup of coffee.
Hockley Valley Coffee is also committed to sustainability and contributing to the workers and communities where its coffee is sourced. We aspire to improve the communities in the best way that we can. To that end, we sponsor the education of children, primarily girls as their education tends to be neglected. Poor families want girls to stay home and help with domestic chores. We want to free them from that way of thinking, to help them to build a foundation of knowledge. Hockley Valley Coffee has found a fantastic avenue in which to do this. The most effective way was a direct way, where every cent we contribute goes to the intended purpose with no administrative costs or fees. As part of the sponsorship, the group visits the homes of the children to meet with the parent(s) and enter into an agreement with respect to expectations of attendance and grades.
We have also committed to help feed them as the government commits $0.18 per day per child for food, which it doesn’t always deliver. To that end, we have contributed to renovating and refurbishing the schools kitchen so that food could be properly stored and prepared.
The school, El Tigre for children from 6 – 13 is located in Salcaja, Quetzeltenango, Guatemala.
Currently we are sponsoring:
7 year-old Jose Gallardo. Whose elderly grandparents (a former pastor) take care of him.
9 year-old Viviana Aracely Martinez Diaz.
10 year-old Carmen Estefania Garcia Ovalle.
Hockley Valley Coffee Roasters Ltd.