I’ve been dreaming about a good espresso machine for a while. A machine for which you grind freshly roasted beans yourself to make a caffè like a real barista, and which would win the approval of regular customers in an Italian bar. Quite apart from the exquisite coffee taste, I would like to have this machine because it doesn’t produce any waste. But above all, so that I can wholeheartedly join the coffee revolution.
In the Netherlands we’re now seeing a true coffee revolution. A growing number of entrepreneurs are on a mission to disrupt the coffee chain. A mission that goes beyond selling fair trade or organic coffee. They are shortening the chain by delivering coffee straight to people’s homes and are proof that a fair price for coffee farmers, respect for the environment, stimulating the local economy and delicious coffee can go hand in hand. And that’s desperately needed.
Here in the Netherlands we drink a lot of coffee – 3 to 5 cups a day on average. And because of our love of coffee, multinationals such as Nestlé, Starbucks and Jacobs Douwe Egberts each earn billions of euros a year. But the coffee farmers are not benefiting. Most of them live below the poverty line.
The price of coffee is now so low that the farmers have to sell their coffee below cost price, while we are still paying the normal price in the shops. As a result, poverty and inequality are increasing. These coffee revolutionaries want to put an end to that.
I’ll give you a few examples of brands that are showing us that things can be done differently. The founder of Moyee Coffee felt it wasn’t fair that 85% of all the money earned from coffee goes to multinationals. And so he decided to make the entire chain more sustainable and called this approach ‘fair chain’. Everyone in the chain gets a fair price. In addition, they roast the coffee in the country of origin. As a result, the revenues that remain in the country are 300% higher than when roasting would take place in Europe, for example.
Eek Coffee is another example of a company that wants to introduce coffee lovers to responsible, sustainable, fair and good coffee. Their coffee is sourced in Guatemala and Brazil. For each kilo of coffee Eek Coffee sells, they set aside 50 eurocents, which they invest in sustainable energy projects in the countries where the coffee is produced.
Kikundi Koffee helps smallholders in Tanzania to cultivate and sell their crops while at the same time creating a market for their coffee in the Netherlands. The farmers receive twice the fair trade price for their coffee.
And lastly, the initiators of Wakuli source coffee directly from coffee farmers in Peru, Brazil or India, cutting large roasters and supermarkets out of the chain. As a result, farmers are paid 2 to 3 times more than they otherwise would.
These brands also sell 100% compostable coffee pods for Nespresso machines. And beans for a French Press or percolator. But at the end of the day their coffee deserves an espresso machine, of course.
Asceline Groot is an entrepreneur at hetkanWEL (itCANbedone), author of ‘Het Nieuwe Groen’ (The New Green), Content Coordinator at The Crowd Versus and promoted at Radboud University Nijmegen. In her columns, she writes about social enterprises and start-ups and about trends and developments in sustainability.