Sustainability and quality are not easily defined. The word sustainability is easier to understand, but what does it actually mean and contain? What about quality? It means different things to different people.
We define these words in this blog and what they mean for Warrior Coffee. We have defined a five point sustainability and quality program in an understandable way. Enjoy!
We wrote in a longer blog post what sustainable coffee we means (read here). In short, sustainable coffee means that every party in the coffee supply chain is respected (from the coffee farmer to the end customer), the products are fairly priced and everybody can do sustainable business. Furthermore, third-party certifications are used when needed and we learn and develop the process all the time. And it goes without saying that we act professionally and respectfully towards everyone.
From the same blog post you can find more information about the problems in the coffee industry and threats about the future of the coffee farming. So, we have defined and our sustainability and quality program as follows:
All of our coffee (and also tea) is organic. This means that the soil where the coffee is grown is free from chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. The fertilizer can be, e.g., chicken poo. This has been the choice of our company since the beginning (est. 2014) - to sell and roast only organic coffees.
Organic coffee is cultivated using only organic fertilizers. The whole organic coffee supply chain is controlled from the coffee farm to us at the coffee roastery. We are supervised by the Finnish Food Authority in Finland. Organically certified coffee is grown with respect and less pressure for nature. Thus, organic coffee has no potential pesticide residues from cultivation, so it is also cleaner.
Organic farming has an increasing effect on the price of coffee, as it can often be more expensive for the farmer (compared to chemical-enhanced farming or pest control). That's why tasteful high quality organic coffee farmers should get a decent compensation, long live Organic!
What is a fair compensation and what does Fairtrade -certified supply chain mean? We have investigated different coffee supply chain models (read our report here) and the problem in the coffee industry is the lack of transparency and control mechanisms. So why do we need them?
Control mechanisms (which also provide training and welfare programs) are needed because, coffee is the world's most traded commodity on the stock exchange after oil. There are also about 25 million small coffee farmers in the world who make the majority of the world's coffee. In addition, coffee is cultivated in poorer countries, which do not have a social support network, such as unemployment support, like in the West.
If not even the largest coffee roaster companies in the world compare well against Fair Trade -certification (or other third-party responsibility programs), it's not credible in our opinion that a small domestic coffee roaster can monitor the fairness of coffee farms around the world.
We purchase and manufacture our coffee products as organic and Fairtrade -certified in the future. Already now our most sold Warrior Coffee -brand coffees are double-certified. The best and the most famous (but not perfect) third-party sustainability certification for coffee is Fairtrade. Fairtrade controls coffee production and develops sustainability throughout the coffee supply chain. The farmer gets always the guaranteed Fairtrade price for the coffee he/she cultivates, which is extremely important. We always pay more than the minimum price for our coffee (see the next section) and of course the quality of the coffee is also Specialty Grade -coffee.
We are very proud that our coffees are not only organic but also Fairtrade certified (coffee certifications are written clearly on the packaging of our coffee). However, our coffee differs significantly from the sustainability-certified coffee available in the supermarkets because we use high quality (scored over 80 points) specialty coffees (continue reading to the next section, more good things coming!)
This point is a little trickier because quality means different things to different people. Fortunately, the coffee industry has a well defined quality system when it comes to coffee's quality (without taking a stand on organic or sustainability -aspects). The term is Specialty Coffee. Specialty coffees are rated by an official coffee tasting professionals and these coffees have received over 80 points (range 0-100 points) in a review and can thus be officially classified as Specialty coffees.
Thus, our coffees are SPECIALTY COFFEE besides being organic and Fairtrade -certified. And even that's not all that we do! :)
Fortunately, this is easy to explain: see this table (updated at regular intervals) how much we pay for our coffee, how much the farmer gets from the coffee we sell (RTO% - Return To Origin), how much more we pay for our coffee compared to the world wide market prices and also Fairtrade -minimum price.
Thus, in the future, you will have an open view of the basic structure of our business and you can decide for yourself whether this is fair for all parties. We aim to return around 20% of the sales price to the origin (the normal figure for the coffee industry is below 10%).
Often the aspect of domesticity is overlooked in discussions of sustainability. While you can get cheap roasted coffee from abroad (even in capsules) to Finland, it does not bring work here and certainly does not compare to, for example, our 5 point sustainability and quality program.
We are a proud Finnish company and we roast coffee in Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki (welcome to follow the life of the coffee roaster!). It is very important to us that our employees feel well and enjoy themselves at work. It's important and fair - for the employees and the company.
Furthermore, our office coffee service has also been awarded the Key Flag badge, and our everyday warrior precision weapon (butter coffee) also has a Design From Finland badge.
This is what Warrior Coffee's sustainability and quality promise is. We are damn excited about this, because after a hard and rather lengthy studying, we have advanced quite fast and created a model that suits us the best. We would love to hear your thoughts on all this and since we made this model very open we hope for an open discussion as well. Well, you can send us a private messages too :)
With coffee regards,
Riku, Mauri, Suvi, Piia, Lassi and Petsku
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