Talking Coffee With Farmer Brothers
Q&A with Molly Laverty, Manager of Sustainable Green Coffee Supply
Just over 100 years ago, Roy E. Farmer entered the coffee business. In the century to follow his little company grew into what is now Farmer Brothers, a coffee industry leader with a strong focus on sustainability and commitment to Fair Trade. Today we'd like to share a guest post from Molly Laverty, Farmer Brothers' Manager of Sustainable Green Coffee Supply. In her critically important role, Molly is responsible for the procurement of all sustainably certified and verified coffees in the supply chain. She travels frequently to coffee origins, especially in Central and South America, and is also a certified Q-Grader and SCAA Lead Instructor Certified. Molly also works with Farmer Brothers' Director of Sustainability on environmental reporting and sustainable coffee supply related issues company-wide.
Here's what she has to say:
Q: Can you tell us a bit about Farmer Brothers?
Farmer Brothers’ history began in 1912, when a young man named Roy E. Farmer decided to open up his own coffee business to make it easy for restaurants to pour a great cup of coffee. Over the next 100 years, Farmer Brothers made strategic decisions to start Spice Products Company and Custom Coffee Plan, and to acquire Coffee Bean International and Sara Lee’s DSD coffee food service division, rounding out Farmer Brothers’ presence as a national manufacturer, wholesaler and distributor with sustained connections to its local roots. Today, with a network of over 115 branches nationwide, Farmer Brothers serves over 60,000 food and beverage establishments across the U.S.
Q: When did Farmer Brothers begin offering Fair Trade Certified™ coffee, and why is it so important to your business?
Our specialty coffee division, Coffee Bean International Inc., has been offering Fair Trade Certified coffee for nearly 15 years. This is important for our business because it means coffee products with this certification were produced with ethical considerations in mind. Coffee growers are justly compensated for their efforts, improving quality of life, empowering communities and encouraging environmental preservation.
Q: How does Farmer Brothers define and approach sustainability?
Farmer Brothers Coffee has a comprehensive corporate responsibility and sustainability model focusing on Social, Environmental, and Economic Development (SEED). Through Farmer Brothers’ sustainability, stewardship, and environmental efforts, we not only commit to serving the finest products available, but also insist on their sustainable cultivation, manufacture and distribution whenever possible.
Q: What is life like for coffee farmers? How has Fair Trade made a difference?
Life as a coffee farmer comes with economic volatility – price of coffee can be unpredictable, making it difficult for farmers to ensure a reliable income. Through Fair Trade, coffee farmers are guaranteed a minimum price, allowing them to earn better incomes and invest in their land.
Q: Do you have a favorite story from a Fair Trade farm?
My favorite story comes from a Fair Trade Co-op in Honduras, Café Organico Marcala SA (COMSA). The Fair Trade premiums paid for their coffee went towards programs that helped inform their members of distinct way to utilize the land and diversify their income. Producers were able to increase their productivity and income per acre by producing different goods such as vegetables, flowers, and honey.
Q: Anything else you’d like people to know?
Farmer Brothers is committed to helping our grower partners build better futures while also offering our customers a complete array of responsibly grown, ethically traded products. That’s why we take a truly holistic approach to addressing the environmental issues, social injustices, and economic risks we see in our supply chain.