Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, between 70 and 80% of which is grown by smallholder coffee producers from approximately 80 countries in Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America. Despite the immense global demand for coffee, smallholder producer’s livelihoods are insecure and dependent on their farms’ production.
Road Coffee exists to disrupt the coffee supply chain and change the way coffee is grown, sourced, and sold. We are raising the industry standard for coffee and coffee producers to thrive through the following five action points:
Invest in new financial solutions for coffee producers to end predatory lending and strengthen socioeconomic outcomes in coffee production.
Forge direct, streamlined supply chains that ensure the economic sustainability of coffee production to protect the livelihood of coffee farming communities.
Create new markets for coffee producers to sell their products and receive adequate compensation.
Leverage farm-focused partnerships to re-establish environmental sustainability through productive agricultural practices in coffee growing regions.
Cultivate change in systems and processes for women in coffee to gain supply chain access, market share, and powerful roles.
Invest in New Financial Solutions for Coffee Producers
Barriers to effective capital acquisition keep coffee producers in a state of subsistence, indebted to exploitative intermediaries and unscrupulous money lenders. Predatory lending practises, including charging interest rates up to 70% per annum, inhibit coffee producers from securing their livelihood, growing their businesses, and building their communities. Our microloan program offers coffee producers crucial access to business and community building capital at 7% interest per annum, rather than up to 70%.
Road Coffee is utilizing microlending to directly invest in coffee producers’ businesses allowing them to purchase equipment, purchase fertilizer, and farm sustainably to provide for their families. Concurrently, micro-loans are paired with education on how to improve the quality of their crops.
Forge Direct and Streamlined Supply Chains
Coffee producers practise subsistence farming, relying on their annual yield for their livelihood. The ability for coffee producers to provide for their families is dependent upon their crop’s profitability, which is needlessly depleted by intermediaries. Importers from the global north and exploitative third-party exporters disproportionately profit from coffee producer’s work, threatening their livelihood and eliminating coffee farmer’s profit margins. We are forging relationships with coffee producers and paying them directly to streamline the supply chain and eliminate unnecessary intermediaries, thereby increasing their margins.
Create New Markets for Coffee Producers
Many coffee producers are forced to sell their products at a loss due to a lack of access to coffee buying markets. These producers grow high-quality coffee but lack the connections and access required to sell coffee to markets that fairly value it. As a result of their lack of access to competitive markets, coffee producers are often required to sell their products below their cost of production. Underrepresented coffee growing regions, like Laos, often lack access to global markets entirely and do not receive the international attention they deserve. We are opening new markets for coffee producers to sell their products without incurring a loss and one of the first roasters to source directly from Laos.
Leverage Partnerships to Re-establish Sustainable and Productive Agricultural Practices
Smallholder coffee producers rely on the health of their soil and land to survive. For many coffee producers, the connection to their land is sacred and sustainable agriculture has been the default for generations. However, consumer preferences, climate change, and increasing challenges to profitability have created reliances on economically and environmentally costly pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Through microfinance, paying coffee producers a living wage, and powerful partnerships with community-driven organizations like Fi-lan’thro-pe, smallholder coffee producers are able to invest in their land’s long-term sustainability, promote biodiversity, gain access to clean water, implement sustainable agricultural practices, and re-establish their soil’s depleted nutrients.
Cultivate Systemic Change for Women in Coffee
Women in coffee experience immense inequity. 70% of hard-labour in coffee production is provided by women, yet only 20% of coffee farms are women-owned or women-operated. Additionally, less than 10% of coffee export licenses distributed belong to women in coffee, making it especially hard for them to sell their products and be profitable.
We partner with revolutionary women in the coffee industry to create systemic change. One of these women is Ceci Genis, the producer at the Farmer’s Project’s Zalmari Estate, the world’s first Women Care Certified coffee farm. Through our partnership with the Farmer’s Project, we proudly offer a Costa Rican coffee powered by a fully-female supply chain, from producer to roaster. By partnering with women in coffee demanding equitable roles, we are disrupting the coffee supply chain.
Collaboration with Customers, Corporate Clients, and Stakeholders
At Road Coffee we are more than a cup of coffee. Our customers, corporate clients, and stakeholders are pushing the coffee industry forward, making it sustainable and allowing coffee to thrive as the world’s second largest commodity. Together, we can end predatory lending practises that inhibit coffee producers from securing their livelihood, growing their businesses, and building their communities.