In 2019 we continued our industry-leading work at our coffees’ origins to ensure that everyone involved in its production is treated and compensated fairly. Again, we’re proud to report the highest published minimum pay to coffee farmers of any company we know of--more than double the guaranteed Fair Trade rates--and we’re continuing to set a progressive example by including all standards for all farm workers’ pay and safety in our coffee buying agreements. We call this work Fair For All, and it is detailed each year in our annual Transparency Report.
Transparency is a keystone in communicating the work that we do at origin, but it’s only a piece of an elaborate puzzle that we seek to constantly improve.
As 2019 marks our third Transparency Report, and our second year using our Fair For All certification, we look to offer new information that highlights our progress. So we’re including two new pieces of information behind our process.
The first is cupping score. A coffee’s score is usually the major factor that informs pricing at origin, and now you’ll find each coffee’s initial score, which was assigned during the buying process, included in our table of data.
Next, we’re highlighting the length of our producer relationships. One of our commitments to our producers is to purchase coffee continuously when we can, providing an opportunity for sustainable partnerships and long-term opportunities for improvement.
As you’ll see in the report, we have been successful in maintaining strong, long-term commitments with most of our producers for many years. This means each party can invest, grow, and improve their coffee quality, and the quality of life for everyone involved.
While Olympia Coffee is taking serious steps to improve the livelihoods of coffee farmers, the reality is that we are a tiny company in a large industry. And yet, we have seen that our efforts are having a major impact on our partners. From our data collection, we believe that over 100,000 coffee farmers have received prices of at least 50% above the local average in their community because of our purchases. Further, our farmers communicated that receiving payments faster was the number one thing we could do to improve their livelihoods. In response, we worked closely with our exporter partners to reduce the time between delivery of coffee and payment to farmers, from an average of 35 days down to an average of just 4 days.
In 2019 we became a Certified B Corporation. This is a third-party certification that is awarded to companies who are leaders in environmental and social impact. The process of certification pushed us to verify our efforts at origin and improve our work at home by providing documentation on all of our practices.
After more than a year of communication and data collection, we developed systems that helped us meet even higher standards and improved our company. Most importantly, we believe this certification has helped to validate our Fair For All sourcing for our staff and customers, and keeps us accountable as we work to build trust and credibility across the coffee industry.
Future of Coffee
While we are proud to report on our successes, we can’t ignore that the future of coffee is in jeopardy. Climate change is impacting every farm we work with. Farmers are facing historically low prices, and those working in coffee are reporting that it has never been more challenging to sustain livelihoods. Supporting coffee producers by generating long-term partnerships, openly sharing information, and paying prices that offer a fair profit margin for the farmer, exporter, importer, roaster, and retailer will continue to be our priority. We believe that now, more than ever before, our Fair For All guidelines are essential to creating products that are equitable and sustainable.
For the last two years, we have been engaged with a handful of sister coffee companies who are taking “The Pledge.” This first-step toward public transparency encourages roasters to share the prices paid at origin, as well as several key factors of their buying practices for at least one of the coffees on their website. While Olympia Coffee has gone much further than the standards in The Pledge, we believe it is important for us to have more dialogue and action within our coffee industry. We are proud to join our peers in this effort. Our 2019 Transparency Report outlines all of the green coffee we purchased this past season, each coffee’s volume, F.O.B. prices, Farm Gate prices, cherry prices paid to workers when applicable, and the length of producer relationships for 100% of our offerings.
In 2019 we sourced over 270,000 lbs of Green Coffee from the six countries where we work: Colombia, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Kenya, and Burundi. While we still work in Hawaii, we didn’t complete a purchase in 2019.
For the last four years, we have purchased 100% of our coffees directly. No coffees from producers we have not visited, no coffees where we haven’t personally agreed to the price of their harvest, and no coffees that exploit the people or land they came from, to the best of our knowledge.
We do this by actively collecting data during our coffee buyer visits, and through our active relationships with exporters that share our values and goals. A key piece we are adding to this system in 2020 is our new fully transparent Fair For All Audit forms. Using these, we will be documenting information we collect during our visits, and making it available to the public.
In 2020 we are working on expanding our Fair For All coffee sourcing to Mexico and Peru. We hope that, as we grow as a company, we can further support the family farms that grow our coffee and expand to new farms and flavors for our customers.
We also want to share the goals we have as a company to improve our sustainability efforts. In 2020 we have to add solar power to run our Roastery, Headquarters and flagship cafe in downtown Olympia. We are also working on reducing waste at our six retail cafes by greatly decreasing our single-use waste, and investing more in reusable cups and low-cost reusable options for take-out service drinks in cafes.
In 2020 we are welcoming Becky Cooper to our sourcing team. Becky started with Olympia Coffee as the delivery driver in 2016, was added to our roasting team in 2018, and is now heading up the bulk of travel as our Green Coffee Manager. Becky’s skills as a cupper and amazing photographer will help with our mission to connect producers with customers.
Most importantly, our transparency and Fair For All efforts wouldn’t be possible without customers who partner with us daily on these efforts. This year marks 15 years for Olympia Coffee and we want to thank you for continuing to purchase products that improve your life and the lives of the suppliers who create them.
We can’t wait to share 2020 with you.