The Quest For FairChain Red

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Where does your bag of 100% Limu coffee come from? From Limu. Makes sense doesn’t it? Today Mark headed out from the town of Jimma, known as the birthground of coffee, to drive a bumpy road for 3 hours. Destination: the FairChain washing station. We share with you his first impressions.

“FairChain is about quality. So a FairChain coffee harvest means collecting the best coffee from motivated farmers. An important aspect of coffee quality is the color of the coffee cherry. Only the red cherries bare the beans that have the potential to end up in a 100% Limu bag.

Sounds pretty easy to make sure we only use the red cherry doesn’t it? Well, today I learned that also the road to FairChain quality is a bumpy road. First of all, we work together with 350 farmer families. Wife, husband, kids, day laborers together, this might involve over a thousand cherry pickers.

Well before harvest time, we trained 350 farmers to pick only red cherry. We also explained to them that if they play by the FairChain rules, they earn a 20% FairChain quality premium on top of the local market price. This should be enough incentive to show up with a bag full of nothing but red cherry. But then again, being a farmer, adding some not so red cherry might increase your earnings. Unless…

Well, unless quality control is consistently strict of course! But looking at the cherry the first farmer of the day delivered, I was shocked to see lots of green in his jute bag. And that was after the mandatory sorting at the gate. Feeling a bit uncomfortable to address the issue which might put the farmers in a difficult position, I discussed the matter with the quality manager. With immediate effect: we hung up pictures showing the cherry color we need, he urged all farmers and sorting staff to pay more attention to color sorting and 15 minutes later, we were collecting a much better shade of red!”

This quest for FairChain Red improves your cup of coffee, but in the end it also increases farmer earnings, as higher quality will positively affect the price we can pay our farmers. But we’re not there yet, not by far… many other aspects can influence coffee quality. With the local FairChain team, we still have an impressive to-do list… we’ll keep you posted on our progress!