ABOUT UNION

WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO

ABOUT UNION

UNION DIRECT TRADE

MORE THAN JUST PAYING A FAIR PRICE

UNION DIRECT TRADE

BREWING TIPS

BREW COFFEE LIKE A PROFESSIONAL

BREWING TIPS


1st August 1838: Enslaved men, women and children in the British Empire finally became fully free after a period of forced apprenticeship following the passing of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833.

During the 17th, 18th and early 19th century slave labour produced the major consumer goods that were the basis of world trade; coffee, cotton, rum, sugar and tobacco.

Many people still think of slavery as a thing of the past, but it still exists in every sector, on every continent. It can take the form of forced prison labour, human trafficking through to debt bondage and compulsory over-time.

Shockingly, there are more people in slavery today than at any time previousy in human history.

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The answer is more complex than ‘because some coffee taste better than others’ or ‘some coffees are very rare and unique and therefore the supply and demand relationship will create a higher prices’.

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In an era of dwindling crop diversity, coffee farmers are diversifying their coffee plantations.

Once there were tens or hundreds of breeds of every fruit and veggie you can think of. Today, when I go to the supermarket in the Netherlands I find only one version of broccoli, corn or carrot. Modern production has streamlined our choices. Nature depends upon diversity to thrive, and consumers miss out on all the flavours (sweet, delicate, floral, nutty) that nature designed.

Apples are a different story

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There’s a lot of talk about doing the right thing in the coffee industry and I frequently find myself in some lively debates around this issue. But what does ethical/fair/decent (delete as appropriate) really mean? How do we ensure that the people who matter in producing coffee, the farmers and workers, benefit as much as everyone else?

When commodity markets crash, smallholder farmers suffer the consequences by receiving low prices for their coffee. This is why many consumers in the UK tend to be very supportive of Fairtrade certification which gives some protection to vulnerable groups of farmers and ensures they receive a minimum price irrespective of how low the markets may fall.

But does the Fairtrade model accomplish all it sets out to achieve?

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