Ethical coffee consumption boosted in Hackney

Ethical coffee consumption boosted in HackneyThe coffee-loving borough of Hackney has been enjoying the results of a new scheme designed to support farmers in developing countries.

Hackney is a particularly good area for this kind of initiative, since it has a high concentration of excellent local coffee shops.

The project started after local filmmaker Nick Francis spent two years following the struggle of an Ethiopian cooperative to be paid a fair price for its coffee beans. The fight was immortalised in the feature-length documentary Black Gold, but Mr Francis wanted to find a more concrete way to help the farmers.

This desire only strengthened after Ethiopia was hit by a food crisis. Mr Francis explained: “I was watching the news and they announced Ethiopia was facing another food crisis. This time coffee farmers were also caught up in this. So here was people producing one of the most valuable commodities in the world joining queues for food aid. How was that possible when we were enjoying this product?”

He realised that big coffee companies were using their stranglehold on the market to pay extremely low prices to their suppliers to maximise their own profit.

Therefore, Mr Francis decided to use the platform of Fairtrade Fortnight to encourage local people to find out more about where their coffee came from.

However, he also pointed out that while Fairtrade is a great sign that a product is ethical, some independent coffee processors buy directly from the producers, often paying a higher price than Fairtrade rates, so it’s always worth asking about the story of your beans.

When farmers are paid a fair price for their coffee, they are able to afford food and other necessities, as well as investing in the future for themselves and their communities, instead of having to rely on handouts.
Hackney Borough Council staged a series of events to mark Fairtrade Fortnight, which concluded with a free showing of Mr Francis’ documentary at the Hackney Picture House.

Published 26th March, 2015

© 2015 Estates IT Limited

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