What does ethically sourced coffee mean?

In recent years, demand for ethically sourced, sustainable products has increased dramatically. It’s more important than ever to consider the ethical, social and environmental factors when choosing which coffee you are going to drink or sell. 

Allegra’s Project Café 2021 shows that over 50% of those interviewed believed it is important to purchase ethically sourced coffee wherever they can. From this data, we can also see that the younger generation (under 35s), feel the most devoted to buying ethically sourced coffee, with 58.3% stating its importance.

So, what does it mean to source your coffee ethically? Well, in a nutshell, it means farmers receive a fair income, the environments they work in should be safe, and that the social factors of production are considered. These factors could include; tackling discrimination, ensuring no forced labour takes place, that working hours are not excessive and the right to democratic representation is not infringed upon, to name but a few.

Our commitments

At Smokin’ Bean, we want to ensure that farmers work in safe conditions, receive a fair price for their crop that exceeds the cost of production and that their families and communities have the support they need.  

We are therefore committed to supporting transparent and ethical practices for our coffee-growing communities, right from the crop to the cup! We have developed meaningful, long-term relationships with farmers and coffee cooperatives. 

We source our coffee beans solely through Fairtrade cooperatives in Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Uganda. Fairtrade isn’t just a label for us, it’s so much more. Not only does it help our farmers receive a fairer income, but it also allows them to invest the Fairtrade Premiums they receive into projects that will improve their coffee growing community. The members of the cooperative come together to decide how to invest using the Fairtrade Premiums they receive. It is often focused on improving coffee quality and yield through technical assistance or on social based projects, such as improving healthcare, schools, or infrastructure. 

Our Signature blend is also Rainforest Alliance certified. The Rainforest Alliance is an official seal of approval demonstrating that each coffee farm has been audited to meet the required environmental, social and economic sustainability standards.  

coffee export mill
Fairtrade coffee farming

The challenges that lay before us

As most you will be aware, the coffee market is extremely unpredictable, which directly impacts farmers and their families, making them more vulnerable. Unstable prices can limit their access to housing, food, healthcare, education and other necessities. The economic sustainability of the coffee industry is strongly linked to the social sustainability of these coffee communities.  

We also know that climate change and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are having a direct impact on the coffee crops. In many countries we are seeing higher levels of precipitation during dry seasons, which causes flooding on the lower land. This, coupled with with rising temperatures, forces farmers to move to higher ground, therefore causing deforestation and having a negative impact on biodiversity as well as a their income.

How we're playing our part

Due to the growing number of challenges coffee farmers around the globe are facing, we have had every reason to take a proactive approach to mitigation and adaption.

Our Project Next Gen is one example. This unique initiative was set-up to inspire the next generation of coffee farmers, when many young people in coffee growing regions are being either pulled or forced away from the industry. You can find out more about the project here.

Another way that we mitigate our impact is to offset our emissions in partnership with One Carbon World. We can proudly boast that we were the first roastery in the world to achieve their Carbon Neutral International Standard. And prouder still when this year we have achieved it for the fourth year running. 

So, when you have your next cup of Smokin’ Bean coffee, you can rest assured that it’s been ethically sourced… and it’ll taste delicious too. 

By Jo Cramp

Smokin’ Bean Senior Marketing Executive