FairChain is all about celebrating the heroes of the direct trade movement. It’s what makes us spring out of bed in the morning, fire up the coffee machine and sing the all three parts of Handel’s Messiah in the shower (overtures and nine-part symphonies included). Because we make it our mission to find those valiant pioneers whose determination can never be swayed from eliminating that pesky and value-guzzling labyrinth of middle men who are taking up all the precious space in between the coffee farmers and their biggest fans, US! And Sustainable Harvest is the kind of direct trader that we really REALLY get excited about.
And it’s not just because they have led the paradigm shift that has served as the foundation for the direct trade model in creating a closer connection between farmers and consumers. Although that’s is a hefty little fact by itself, and indeed it is what we’re all about. Rather, as an importer of high-quality specialty-grade coffees from over 15 countries around the world, Sustainable Harvest has pioneered their own flavor of direct trade: The Relationship Coffee Model. So it’s fair to say that when we come across a company like Sustainable Harvest, it’s kind of a big deal for us.
At the core of the Relationship Model is connections between the people in the supply chain. Originally conceived in response to the lack of transparency and traceability in conventional supply chains, David Griswold (Founder and President of Sustainable Harvest) set out to reinforce the centrality of the direct connection between coffee farmers and the markets in which their coffee was being sold.
‘They (the coffee farmers) had very little idea about what happened to their coffee, how it was processed, how to taste it and what the prices were’.
The answer: training farmers (and then getting those farmers to train other farmers -and so it goes) in organic productivity, milling and expert tasting so that they could produce better exports. Building local knowledge forms the central pillar of building sustainable trading relationships.
‘The quality of life has a huge impact on the quality of the product.’ – David Griswold.
Sustainable Harvest is so committed to strengthening the relationships sitting at the heart of their business, that in October each year they bring their supply chain together (that’s right, in ONE PLACE at ONE TIME) for a unique collaborative gathering focused on the future of coffee. Building resilience through collective action is the key to strengthening the Relationship Model and ensuring that its benefits extend even further out into new collaborations in the broader coffee industry.
There is a great deal that can be learned from observing a business like Sustainable Harvest thrive not just in their core business objectives, and not even just on their social mission that sits right up alongside. What Sustainable Harvest is doing is charting the course of the future of direct trade by defining and constantly refining their model. This purposeful and unwavering focus on the shifting landscape that is being carved out by new and emerging trade models will become the defining legacy to the movement in the long term -which is most definitely worth yet another round of Messiah – ALL RISE!
Don’t take our word for it – Check them out: www.sustainableharvest.com