This Coffee Company Wants to Pay Farmers a 50 Percent Premium

By Leon Kaye July 11, 2017

The global coffee industry has a long history of underpaying and exploiting many of its workers and farmers. The fair trade movement has helped boost the livelihoods of some farmers, but there is still plenty of improvement that could occur in the coffee growing regions of Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America. One coffee roaster based in New York’s Hudson Valley says it is offering a more aggressive tactic so that farmers can earn fairer wages for their beans.

Levanta Coffee describes itself as a “socially-innovative start-up” that can spark much better economic opportunities for the coffee farmers in Honduras with which it partners. This “social microlot model,” should it take off, will provide farmers 50 percent more revenues thanmarket rates currently offer. The social enterprise will launch a crowdfunding on Kickstarter later this month with the goal of raising $35,000 to make this project a reality. Participants in this campaign, along with visitors to the Levanta’s site, will soon learn the stories about the hardships many of these Honduran farmers, who on average clear $2,000 to $4,000 annually, constantly endure.

Levanta joins a long list of companies and non-profits that have attempted to make the coffee industry much more sustainable and more importantly, humane. The strategies are all over the map.

For example, San Francisco’s Blue Bottle Coffee pitched a $16 cup of java sourced from a rare coffee varietal in Yemen in order to revive the country’s long, proud, but now struggling coffee sector. A few years ago, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters launched a biochar project in an attempt to reduce climate change impacts, provide clean cooking fuel and nudge Rwanda’s coffee industry towards a circular economy system. Even 7-Eleven sells a Nicaraguan fair trade brew at many of its corner stores. And some non-profits, such as Cool Effect, want to make sure struggling Peruvian coffee producing communities survive with its carbon credit program.

Levanta’s Kickstarter campaign starts July 18.