The trade model applied to bring coffee from farm to roaster is a highly debated question in the coffee industry. In that regard the term “direct trade” has been popping up during my visit to coffee shops a lot. When trading directly, coffee roasters build mutually beneficial relationships with growers and buy the beans from them without going through a third party. Grower and roaster agree on price, quantity, and quality of the coffee and define social and environmental standards that concern farmers and their local community. There is no independent certification process, which means roasters must be transparent. As coffee consumers get more educated, they want to know where their coffee comes from and what social and environmental impact it has created for the communities involved. If the roastery is trading directly, the consumer has to trust it is sticking to its proclaimed standards.
When I visited the coffee farm Finca Dos Jefes in fall last year, the owner Richard mentioned he was trading directly with WOYTON, a roastery and network of coffee shops based in Düsseldorf, Germany, with branches in Cologne, Oldenburg and Hilden. He told us that two of the owners visited his farm in Panama to see for themselves how the coffee is grown and harvested and what conditions were put in place for the workers. They interviewed the farmers and took a thorough tour of the premises, checking whether how the farm operated was in line with their mission and vision.
As I was going to Dusseldorf a couple of months later I paid WOYTON a visit to see for myself how they put direct trade into practice. I passed by the coffee shop at Marktplatz 12 in the historic center, where coffee is not only brewed but also roasted under the label ROAST INC.. I was impressed to hear from barista and roaster Miriam that their goal is to go 100% direct trade by the end of 2016. So far, partnerships have been developed with farms in Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama.
WOYTON is in constant contact with the growers and travels to the farms to inspect quality, sustainability and the working conditions. During their travels they connect with other coffee people to develop new partnerships. Coffee fairs are another great way for WOYTON to meet people and identify interesting coffee farms to visit. They are seeking to build long-term relationships with growers and to jointly develop solutions to problems, new approaches and ideas through an open dialogue. Consumers find information about the farms WOYTON works with both online and in the shop itself. While talking to Miriam I sipped on a latte made with beans from ‘Crake Valley Farm’ in Zimbabwe and indulged in the particular fruity flavor. Nothing is left to chance here. For espresso based drinks the milk, which is also bought straight from a local farm, is chosen to bring out the best taste possible.
For the future WOYTON will keep working on consistently providing high quality coffee throughout their network. Social and environmental sustainability are at the heart of their direct trade partnerships and these values will stay a high priority.
For more information, visit www.woyton.de