What are coffee co-ops?
Coffee co-ops, or cooperatives, are partnerships between smallholder farmers who work together to improve both the quality of the coffee they grow and the quality of their lives. Co-ops range in size from 100 farmers to as large as 15,000 or more. They’re vital to the supply of the coffee we all love, and are an agent of positive change for communities around the world.
The majority of the world’s arabica coffee comes from smallholder farmers with only a few hectares of land. Many of these farmers are members of co-ops, and the reason is simple: It can be hard to turn a profit farming coffee.
- Felix Monge,
Tarrazú Coffee Farmer
The co-op, Coopetarrazú, helps Felix’s passion for coffee translate into profits. As a member, Felix and the other farmers are in essence shareholders. They grow and harvest coffee on their own land, then bring it to the mill at the co-op where it’s processed and sold together.
Selling their coffee through a co-op means most of the profits are redistributed back to the farmers. By working together, they’re able to thrive when some might have to stop growing coffee altogether.
Co-ops can also empower social change. An example is at the CooCentral Co-op in Colombia. There, hundreds of women have become successful coffee growers through the Café Mujeres program established in 2014.
Starbucks is committed to supporting smallholder coffee farmers, and buys ethically sourced coffee from co-ops around the world as part of our C.A.F.E. Practices verification program. C.A.F.E. Practices means that all the farmers in each co-op must adhere to a set of standards including no child labor, humane conditions for workers and a guaranteed fair price paid to each farmer.
The standards help farmers grow coffee in a way that is better for both people and the planet.