Traidcraft are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. In 1979 they sold only jute products (do you remember those macramé hanging baskets) from Bangladesh, but within two years they were selling tea and coffee as well. The filter coffee and the tea bags were nice enough… but the instant “campaign coffee” was, as Traidcraft admits “pretty basic (putting it politely)”. Many dedicated passionate pioneers persevered with it. I bought a coffee filter and converted to Traidcraft ground!
But it’s nearly 40 years later and times have changed. Traidcraft now has a highly trained coffee consultant, Alex. She had to take 19 exams to gain her qualifications – her finals involving 3 whole days of coffee tasting! She was asked about her most memorable cup of coffee and gave this reply.
When I was visiting a coop, United Organic Coffee Growers, located at Mount Elgon, close to Mbale in Northern Uganda, I was offered a cup of coffee and without thinking, I said yes. It took about an hour and 10 people at least to prepare the coffee: they collected the green coffee beans still drying in the sun, while resting in parchment (a skin layer which is removed before the coffee is exported), they hulled the coffee manually, hand sorted the coffee (removing defects), roasted the coffee manually on a camping gas stove, ground the coffee manually with the biggest mortar I have ever seen, prepared it as a pour over coffee i.e. they just poured boiling water into a cup with ground coffee and served it in a cup with little hearts on it. Drinking this coffee looking at the mountains and the coffee gardens and being amongst the very kind, humble and proud coffee farmers who had a cup as well, was definitely the most memorable cup of coffee.
Traidcraft works directly with farmers who process the coffee themselves, cutting out the middlemen who siphon off the profits in many non-Fairtrade brands. They now offer a whole range of high quality ground coffees, whole beans, decaffeinated coffee and instant coffee. Many of the coffees are organic, too, and the decaffeinated coffees have been treated only with water – no chemicals are used in the process.
Not a coffee drinker? Thank you for reading this far! We can offer a wide selection of Traidcraft products – tea, nuts, spreads (try the honey) and many varieties of chocolate, to name but a few. Come and have a look after church on Sunday August 18th and every third Sunday of the month and explore the Traidcraftshop.co.uk website – let us know if there’s something else you would like us to stock.