OUR PHILOSOPHY
of COFFEE SOURCING

Union Direct Trade, our sourcing principle, is more than just paying a fair price, it means we work in partnership with farmers to improve both quality of coffee and livelihoods, long term.

It's about ‘trade, not aid’. Receiving sustainable prices for coffee lets farmers build viable livelihoods and have control over investments and development in their communities.

Ever since Jeremy and Steven first visited producers in Guatemala, back in 2001, they realised that we had to go further than just subsidies. We focus on the quality of coffee, not quantity. Seeking a living wage for workers, not just a minimum wage. It’s a better deal for everyone, and better beans for us. It’s the only way to do coffee. This is true sustainable development.

UNION DIRECT TRADE COFFEE MEANS

1. You can find out exactly where, how and by whom your coffee is produced.

2. The farmer receives a fair, sustainable price. Always above minimum Fairtrade price, in 2017 on average over 50 per cent above.

3. Your coffee comes from farmers committed to sustainable agricultural practices and labour rights.

4. You get access to unique coffees. Through our direct sourcing and long-term relationships, we can discover exclusive, hard-to-find gems.

5. You are guaranteed to drink a delicious cup of 100 per cent Arabica, speciality coffee.

A MESSAGE FROM OUR FOUNDERS

We started Union Hand-Roasted Coffee in 2001, after years of witnessing the impact of volatile markets on the lives of coffee farmers. We saw how communities suffered from having to accept low prices that did not even cover the cost of producing their coffee.

We wanted to create a better way. We wanted to be a force for good.

Union was founded with the aim of encouraging farmers to produce high-quality coffee by paying sustainable prices. The extra income from this trading model would improve the livelihoods of farmers and, we hoped, further encourage them to keep raising the quality of their coffee.

Today, we work together with more than 40 producer partners from Asia, Africa and Latin America on improving the economic, social and environmental conditions of coffee production, making a difference to over 65,000 people. We source and roast our coffee and sell to cafés and restaurants throughout the UK as well as to enthusiastic coffee lovers at home.

A large part of our success has been due to the direct and close relationships we have with our coffee farmer partners. We want to continue to have a positive impact on farmers and particularly their workers by sourcing coffee produced under conditions that provide correct labour standards. Improving the lives of workers in our coffee supply chain is important for the overall sustainability of coffee production.

But more importantly, we believe in this because it is the right thing to do.

JEREMY TORZ & STEVEN MACATONIA
FOUNDERS & COFFEE ADDICTS

"For us direct trade is more than going to origin and selecting the best tasting coffee.

Union Direct Trade is our sustainable approach to developing long-term relationships with farmers and supporting them to produce the best-tasting coffees."

STEVEN MACATONIA

OUR IMPACT ON COFFEE PRODUCERS’ LIVES

WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO OVER 65,000 INDIVIDUALS

Over 11,600 families from co-operatives we work with benefit from Union Direct Trade. With each family having an average of 5 family members, we calculate that over 58,000 individuals benefit from our purchasing model.

In addition, we also source from small and medium-sized farms, producers’ organisations and estates. This extends to over 1500 families, which represents a further 7500 individuals. That makes over 65,000 individuals in all.

These families have been able to feed their children, send them to school and invest in their livelihoods. So our total indirect impact exceeds this number significantly.

 

Map Image: Coffee is grown in the ‘bean belt’ between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.
WE SOURCE COFFEE FROM: 14 Countries / 40+ Producers

QUALITY OF COFFEE

Union Direct Trade focuses on empowering farmer partners to acquire the skills needed to produce high-quality coffee.

We achieve this through participatory workshops and farmer-farmer training. This enables farmers to maximise yields and negotiate a higher price for their coffee.

There is a direct link between cup quality and coffee value, so we are committed to paying an additional incentive premium to motivate farmers towards greater income. Our trading mechanism has expanded economic opportunity for small-scale farmers to transition from commoditised production to producing coffee with intrinsic value. When we first started working in Rwanda they didn’t produce specialty coffee. By teaching farmers how to take care of their coffee, we helped them improve coffee quality and we were the first roasters to source speciality coffee from Rwanda. The economic benefits to producers have been profound.

For training we engage with experts in the sustainable practices described in our Code of Conduct. In addition to coffee quality this training addresses environmental issues such as waste water management and reducing agrochemicals.

Training covers health and safety, providing group members with the knowledge and tools needed to ensure their own safety and that of other farm workers. This in turn supports the well-being of their communities.

We also offer training in financial management and capacity building, so that farmers can better understand their cost of production and plan investments.