Sustainability In Coffee – Our View

Long before “sustainability” became a marketing and environmental buzzword,  Peerless Coffee Company operated with an eye toward sustainability.  In 1924, John Vukasin began building relationships with coffee farmers in far flung villages around the globe.   Three generations later, we travel the world maintaining these relationships and beginning new ones.  We get to know the farmers and help to develop their businesses, ensuring you the best coffee available and building a solid foundation for the future for both Peerless Coffee Company and the farmers.  Our definition of sustainability is expanding as is our commitment to continually innovate in all areas of our business.

We all hear a lot about “Fair Trade” these days.  What is “Fair Trade” exactly?  Fair Trade is simply a certification confirming that farmers were paid a fair price for their coffee.  We think this is a good thing, but Fair Trade certification alone isn’t perfect.  At Peerless, we believe in practicing both Fair and Direct Trade (Peer Trade).

Fair Trade excludes many small, worthy farmers that don’t belong to co-ops and the certification carries no quality guarantee.  We trade directly with many small farms that produce wonderful, undermarketed coffee.  Before we buy a coffee, we visit and taste for several seasons to check for consistency, while working with the farmers to improve quality.  Once we begin buying from a farmer, we set up long-term, fixed price contracts, in which Peerless commits to pay a fair, above market price for future beans.  The farmer has a guaranteed buyer, giving him or her an incentive to keep farming to Peerless standards.  What’s more, he’ll take that money and invest it directly in his/her local community raising the living standards of many.

When we source coffee that was grown responsibly and pay a fair price for it, everyone benefits.  Farmers who receive a good price for their coffee are more likely to care for the land with an eye toward its future productivity, thus preserving the health of the ecosystem and the quality of the coffee.  When farmers can make a living selling coffee, they will continue farming instead of migrating to the cities to find work.  This keeps societies and traditional cultures intact and is the first step toward sustainable development.  Our contacts in coffee producing areas, enable us to donate money directly to projects likes schools and clinics.  We visit these areas personally and are able to see first-hand, the impact of our giving.