Our Everything I, I it for You packets currently contain a fantastic coffee from Tanzania. We are frequently asked the question ‘is it Fairtrade?’ In case you were wondering, it isn’t. But don’t stop reading! It’s not a question we want to brush over. Quite the opposite in fact, as it provides us with the perfect opportunity to talk about exactly what is in Everything I .
Major certification bodies (such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance) rely on two things, both of which we admit we are guilty of. Firstly, consumers are lazy. We want to be told things rather than doing a bit of work for ourselves. Secondly, consumers want to feel good when parting with their hard earned cash. We want to make some sort of difference at some sort of level, even if merely to ease our own conscience. A Fairtrade label on your coffee does both of these perfectly. No work needed, just look for the right label; buy, drink and feel as though you have done something good. Even if you’re not entirely sure of exactly what good it is you have done. But don’t misunderstand me here; I’m not saying that certified coffees are a bad thing – far from it. They do a great job of raising consumer awareness of ethical sourcing. However, they are not the only or even the best way of achieving this.
Here at Neighbourhood Coffee we want you to be clear on exactly where we get our coffee. We don’t like hiding behind labels and certifications without doing any legwork ourselves. We like putting in the hard graft and being upfront so that you know where our coffees come from. We like letting you know in clear and simple terms how buying our coffee helps those who produce it. We pay a good price for the great product we bring to you.
The Mondul Estate is in Northern Tanzania on the slopes of the mountain after which it is named. It covers two hundred and eleven hectares and houses around two hundred full time members of staff. All the staff are provided with homes, water and electricity along with a host of other benefits, including education and healthcare, and they are paid 20% above the government minimum salary requirement. By all accounts, the Mondul Estate is a good place to work and produces fantastic coffee, which is exactly why we partner with them and are proud to have their coffee in our bags!
The Fairtrade Foundation has made the decision to only work within co-operative structures, for very good and considered reasons, but this means that a coffee estate like Mondul cannot label its coffee as Fairtrade. So, even though Mondul is run efficiently and has a great conservation project; even though it pays its staff more than a co-operative may; even though it provides housing, schooling, healthcare, electricity and clean water to those who work there (none of which a Fair Trade co-operative are obliged to do), the estate simply cannot be awarded Fairtrade status.
So let’s be clear and simple; the Mondul Estate is in the process of building a children’s nursery for the families who work there. At least 10% of what we make on selling their coffee will go directly back to them to help with the costs of building and running the nursery. We will be sending our first direct payment shortly (and will update you when we do) so that you can clearly see what a difference you make by buying Neighbourhood Coffee.
Is it Fairtrade? No. Does it need to be? We don’t think so.