We work with a coffee supplier in the US who focuses on an internal set of standards called the Volcafe Way.
Their coffees are sourced by teams at origin that work with producers to implement the Volcafe Way. It’s a system designed to maximize farmer prosperity while ensuring environmental and social integrity (because when farmers aren’t earning enough money to feed their families, it’s hard to talk to them about properly recycling water, for example). For their Volcafe Way program, they hired local people from coffee communities around the world and trained them in things like agronomy and small business planning. Today, they provide classes, individual attention and technical field assistance to interested producers in their communities, at no cost or obligation to the producers. The goal: Producers achieve higher-quality coffees and increased farm yields, which improve their bottom lines — and more high-quality coffees exist for us to deliver to roasters. Plus, more than a certification that customers can feel good about, it’s a philosophy that can be verified by third parties and that, while still just a few years old, is already showing real, data-backed results on the lives of producers and communities.
Volcafe Way is now active in Africa, Asia and Latin America. More than a sustainability strategy, it’s the way they do business. Taking a “root cause, root solution” approach, working directly with coffee farmers to assist and train them in sustainable production techniques and good agronomy practices, as well as in making the best uses of their land for future generations.
The Volcafe Way farmer support teams help producers to manage risks, improve outcomes, gather data and focus on measurable results that our green-buyer customers can monitor and verify. One of the flagship training methods is creating “business-model farms,” which provide local learning hubs where surrounding communities can exchange best practices so that they all learn and benefit — whether they work directly with Volcafe Way or not.
We can confidently say our coffees are part of certification programs that ensure a fair price at the end, and much more. Volcafe Way not only pays fair prices for green coffee, but in more than 20,000 instances they work with the producers year-round, ensuring that theirs farms are profitable and have sustainable business plans in place — setting up their success for years to come — and that, of course, each harvest is of the highest quality, so the producers can demand the best prices.