Innovation That Matters

Café creates NGO to ensure fair trade with coffee farmers

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Fair trade coffee is no longer uncommon; what’s unusual about Canadian AGRO Café is that it went so far as to create its own NGO arm to make sure it serves only coffee that’s ethically and environmentally sound. With two Vancouver, British Columbia, locations, AGRO Café sources its coffee direct from small-scale farmers in Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia and Uganda through AGRODEV, its nonprofit NGO established specifically for that purpose. Through AGRODEV—short for Agricultural Growers Resource Organization Developing Economic Viability—the café encourages farmers to adopt ecologically sound methods, and supports them during the transition; it also ensures that they are paid fair wages. Samples of each crop are sent to the café for approval before harvesting; once they’re picked, AGRO Café roasts the beans in-house so as to provide the shortest distance possible between producer and consumer. Hand in hand with all the ethical and sustainability benefits of sourcing its coffee in this way, of course, are myriad storytelling possibilities on the consumer end, as we’ve already seen in the Crop to Cup effort we featured back in 2008. It sounds like AGRO does feature photos of its farmers on its café walls, but we’d expect to see it go even further to track and highlight the stories of the individual farmers behind each and every cup, bringing home for consumers in a vivid way its ethical and (still) made here underpinnings. (Related: Online farmers’ market for small wine producers.) Spotted by: Connor Brown



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