A couple of weeks ago I attended a very special event at the Ham Yard Hotel, one of my favourite hotels, in the heart of Piccadilly.
We had gathered for Fairtrade Fortnight, and to bring to the forefront of our minds, our everyday coffee choices and whether or not they are ethical. Which sounds all very heavy and serious and not at all light and cappuccino frothy… But that’s the point. Buying a coffee is a little treat, which I usually buy for myself without thinking about its provenance. How can my morning latte decision possibly be of any importance to the rest of the world?
But it is. Enormously.
We began the event with some delicious espresso martinis and then settled back to learn about Fairtrade in more detail from some of the key folk who work there.
Fairtrade is about supporting the development of thriving farming and worker communities that have more control over their futures and protecting the environment in which they live and work – certified coffee producer organisations are guaranteed to receive, at the very least, ‘Fairtrade Minimum Price’ for their coffee. This has been implemented to protect the farmers, so that as the market changes and dips, farmers are still guaranteed a minimum income.
And even better, if the market rises, so does the amount the farmers earn. There is also an additional pot of money for farmers, called The Fairtrade Premium, which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions.
Producers determine what is most important to them; whether this is education or healthcare for their children, improving their business or building vital infrastructure such as roads and bridges for their community… it’s all very impressive.
Fairtrade has also had a huge impact on women, who although do a lot of the work on the farms, it is their husbands who own the land, not them. Fairtrade ensures that women can earn their own income and have that true feeling of independence and dignity.
Fairtrade Fortnight is a signpost in our calendars, to remind us to stop and think. Where is my coffee coming from? Who is growing it? And is it Fairtrade?
This wonderful coffee event was hosted by Greggs, who serve up Fairtrade coffee and have been a Fairtrade partner for the past ten years – I had no idea. And this again was another sign to me that I am very out of touch with the real story behind my daily cup of coffee. And a signal to me to be more mindful about my coffee choices.
We did some coffee tasting and coffee ‘cupping’, which I’ve done before and really enjoy – it’s amazing how many different flavours you can pick out when tasting coffee in this way. We tasted different coffees from far flung corners of Vietnam and South America, and found ourselves picking out flavours of cherry, tobacco and grass!
That niggle in the back of my mind was still there – is the coffee I buy Fairtrade? Are any of the cafes along my regular walks Fairtrade? After doing a bit of research (full list here) it turns out that most of them aren’t, which is why I bought my coffee from Gregg’s this morning.
Not only are Greggs a Fairtrade partner, but they’ve also contributed £1 million to the Fairtrade premium I mentioned earlier.. and their coffee is delicious – it’s a unique blend of freshly ground, slow roasted Arabica and Robusta coffee beans. Delicious.
Fairtrade gives us an opportunity to connect with the people who grow the produce that we all depend on, and for that, I am very grateful.
It’s changed the way I’ll look at and choose my coffee forever… and hopefully, it has for you too.
This post was shot on my LEICA D-LUX – dinky but dynamic ;)
This post is sponsored & all thoughts and opinions are my own.