Dean’s Beans continues to raise the bar in the area of trade justice with the signing of two new agreements this week regarding Ethiopia and Peru. The two agreements mark the company’s continued dedication to improving the lives of small coffee farmers. It also models best practices for companies committed to the Fair Trade model.
After long negotiations to assure increased benefits to the farmer, Dean’s Beans has signed on to the new Ethiopian trademark initiative. This program seeks temporary government ownership of Ethiopian geographic names via trademarking, to increase international recognition of the quality and character of the coffees that come from the famous Yirgacheffe, Sidamo and Harar regions. The program hopes to translate this recognition into higher market prices for Ethiopian coffees through the cooperative work of all industry stakeholders, from farmers through roaster retailers.
"This is an exciting and novel project that the farmers of the world are watching,” says Dean Cycon, founder of Dean’s Beans and a long time social justice and environmental lawyer and advocate. “It will take a lot of creative thinking and hard work, but the benefits to the farmers should be substantial.”
On Friday, Dean’s Beans will also sign a pioneering long-term fair trade contract with Peruvian coffee cooperative Oro Verde, based in Lamas, San Martin. Although most companies involved to varying degrees with fair trade mention the fair trade requirement to commit to long term relationships in their marketing materials, this agreement is the first to spell out what this actually means on the ground for both parties. The contract commits Dean’s Beans and Oro Verde to specific actions regarding price, marketing and product development assistance and broader obligations for community development and cultural revitalization. The agreement will be signed at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual conference in Long Beach, California.
“Everybody talks about long-term commitment, but no one has been willing to commit themselves to what that really means. We are hoping that this agreement will model the possibilities for others interested in the welfare of the coffee communities they buy from as well as the long term success of their own companies,” Cycon said.
Listen to Dean discuss these two agreements, in a WAMC Northeast Public Radio interview.