Dean's Beans Brews Justice
Fair trade coffee is more visible, possible, and drinkable these days. At the same time, questions remain about how much of the mainstream daily grind is sustainably produced (most big coffee companies are better at marketing their fair trade than actually implementing it). And if you're like a lot of green advocates, you want your coffee to have a local footprint, too. That's the best approach, but if it's not possible, consider creating your own blend from the Kings of Fair Trade, Organic, and even Kosher Coffee, Dean's Beans. Sustainable in the extreme, Dean's Beans creates whole bean specialty coffees that are certified organic, fair trade and kosher, and roasted in small batches at the beanery in Orange, Masachusetts. Besides exclusively roasting organic coffees, Dean's Beans only purchases beans from villages and importers that are committed to Fair Trade and working towards better economic and health opportunities for the local growers and their families. Dean's Beans are in the forefront of promoting local empowerment and self-reliance by developing local grassroots businesses and human rights groups. The company is also a big local supporter in western Massachusetts and the US in general, sponsoring other local roasters, training small business owners, supporting projects with disenfranchised communities such as Native Americans, the homeless and disabled. Dean's Beans is profitable, but only to the extent that every pound purchased contributes directly to the welfare of coffee growers and consumers. Indeed, Dean Cycon is so serious about that commitment that they are the first coffee company in the USA to have their Fair Trade practices independently audited by an Inspector from Quality Assurance International, a respected international organic and business practices certification organization. Of course, they passed with flying colors! While drinking your Dean's Beans coffee, remember that "fair trade is an economic agreement, not a type of coffee," and enjoy Dan Jaffee's new book Brewing Justice, which is a smart but accessible story about coffee farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico (most of whom are from indigenous communities). Brewing Justice follows the members of the cooperative Michiza, whose organic coffee is sold on the international fair trade market and compares these families to conventional farming families in the same region, who depend on local middlemen and are vulnerable to the fluctuations of the world coffee market. Jaffee finds some interesting paradoxes along the way. Dean's Beans is deeply aware of the global coffee market and only purchases beans from small farmers and cooperatives, rather than from large estates and farms. Like Jaffee, the founders of Dean's Beans have traveled extensively to larger corporate-driven coffee plantations and seen the conditions of chronic poverty and malnutrition. Rather than offering a quick fix, both the book and the coffee company suggest that while the road to a just global trade system is long, it's also imperative.