From a guest blog by Ian Meredith, head bean at Ethical Addictions Coffee Roasters based in Gloucestershire.
Ethical Addictions (EA) was founded in 2006. They prayed that EA would be a company that honours God; they prayed that EA would be a company that gives back to the communities they buy from; they prayed that EA would be a company that would build relationships with people and do right by them.
Simply put the vision was this:
Source great tasting coffee, trade as direct as possible and as fairly as possible.
Do good. Be generous. Make a real, tangible difference.
Originally they were convinced that they would be buying FairTrade coffee. It was a well known system in the United Kingdom and they liked the sound of their ethics. However they soon discovered some of the injustice within the industry.
For example, in 2009, they were introduced to the Manoshi village in Tanzania. The Manoshi village grows exceptional coffee — high altitude, volcanic soil, glacial water — a wonderful, full-bodied, rich cup of coffee. The villagers were being vastly underpaid for their high grade Arabica coffee. It was a great injustice. The villagers could not afford the certification of FairTrade so if EA wanted to work with them, they would have to do it directly.
There are moments where you have that opportunity to either do things by the way of the world or by the way you think God would want us to. God put this village on their heart so they obeyed and started working with the Manoshi village directly.
After discussions on logistics and various misunderstandings through interpreters, much singing broke out among the women of the village, as EA agreed to buy their coffee for what would be a significant premium, tripling their income. But this wasn’t charity, it was justice, paying them what they deserve, a fair price for an exceptional coffee.
That’s just a small part of the EA story. Over the years they have built up working relationships with farmers in Africa and South America, reaching farms and villages, building long-standing relationships and investing in communities.
Then Covid hit in 2020.
2020 has been financially hard for them and 2021 is another uncertain one. In 2020, most of their wholesale customers were shut or restricted in how they can trade. EA had to furlough staff, some worked from home, social distancing and deep-cleaning guidelines imposed. It was the first year in their 14-year history where they had not been able to travel. They have missed it so much, restricting how they function relationally to source coffee and invest in coffee-growing communities; they’ve missed seeing friends at the coffee farms and the incredible scenery.
There is light at the end of the tunnel but we all have no idea when “normal” returns. EA have to make decisions on how much coffee to buy this year, walking the balance between honouring the working relationships with the farmers but also not overbuying and putting a further strain on the business or the long term viability.
Regardless of these difficult decisions, they return back to the prayers that they prayed at the start of Ethical Addictions’ journey, so that in 2021 they continue to honour God; to give back to the communities they work with; and to keep building relationships with people and do right by them.
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From a guest blog by Ian Meredith, head bean at Et, 17/02/2021