What is Direct Trade coffee?

By: Jared & Lora Stayton

Direct trade is a term used by coffee roasters who buy straight from the growers, cutting out both the traditional middleman buyers and sellers and also the organizations that control certifications such as Fair Trade and Bird Friendly, for example. Direct trade proponents say their model is the best because they build mutually beneficial and respectful relationships with individual producers or cooperatives in the coffee-producing countries.

Early on in our coffee journey, we learned a lot about coffee, and more specifically its commodity chain. Coffee is the second highest traded product in the world next to petroleum and is one of the largest food imports into the US. There are many people involved in this chain from farmers, middlemen, exporters, importers, roasters and finally retailers before it reaches the hands of the consumer. Unfortunately, within this complex chain, the farmers are the ones who work the hardest but oftentimes receive the least financially. There are some people who take advantage of the farmers who have not had the opportunity to connect with a reputable group that helps them get their fresh harvest of green coffee beans to market. These people prey on the coffee farmers paying them pennies on the dollar knowing that these poor farmers do not have any other options. They are referred to as coffee coyotes.

Thankfully a group of individuals realized this was common practice and began to set up co-ops in and near coffee growing regions allowing farmers a chance to receive a “fair” price for their green coffee. This began the practice of Fair Trade. While this has been an improvement for the local communities as a whole, many farmers still have a hard time being able to truly provide for their families.

When we at Brickhouse learned that there were some importers who actually had direct relationships in place with the farmer and that these farmers often times receive up to ten times that of even “fair trade” practices, we felt that this was a more excellent way of doing business. Through this practice of Direct Trade, we have the privilege of knowing that these coffee growers are not only being provided economic sustainability, but also spiritual sustainability through our faith-based import partners. At Brickhouse Coffee Co., we purpose to select coffees that have the Direct Trade certification to ensure our giving back. It starts with the “Farmer First”!

From the farmer’s cultivation of the coffee tree to the handpicked and drying methods of the coffee cherry to the direct trade shipment of coffee beans to the craftsmen roasting style and the hand packaging of Brickhouse to the varying artisan and specialty preparation methods to get a fresh cup, Brickhouse Coffee Co. shares an ever growing passion for coffee and the coffee culture.

Learn more about the difference between Fair Trade and Direct Trade HERE, and join us in making these practices a priority.