Olympia Coffee Roasters: The difference between direct trade and fair trade
Oliver (left) and Sam (right) started as baristas. But now they are the proud owners of Olympia Coffee Roasters. And they have one mission. Go directly to the country of origin, develop a relationship with each individual farmer, buy coffee direct from the farmer, and bring it back to Olympia, Washington to be roasted into the perfect product (which they do right in downtown Olympia).
Olympia Coffee Roasters is a direct trade coffee roasting company which is slightly different than fair trade.
So what’s the difference? Well, in a nutshell (or in a coffee bean) fair
trade certifies that the farmers who are sourcing the coffee are providing safe working conditions and living wages to their employees. Additionally, those purchasing the coffee are being held to a standard of fairness (for lack of a better word) ensuring that they are paying the true market price for the coffee.
Direct trade means that the company engages in an open dialogue with the farmer agreeing on a price that is directly related to the quality of the coffee-which means, the price of the coffee is usually more than the fair trade price.
Both processes use an importer and an exporter to help with logistics. “Direct Trade provides transparency. You know what the farmer is being paid because it’s a price you both agreed on,” says Sam. “Additionally, the farmer knows what the importer and the exporter are being paid.”
So what’s the advantage for the consumer? Taste! As a coffee roaster OCR can take the same batch of beans from the same farm and roast it several different ways to highlight different strengths in that specific batch. According to Oliver, “Olympia is a very sophisticated coffee market—the Pacific Northwest has a great history of coffee and espresso and because of this our palettes are pretty refined.”
Another advantage, OCR sources from all over the globe. “Coffees are seasonal,” says Oliver, “Similar to berries in the grocery store, coffees from different regions shine at different times of the year.”
So how about giving it a try yourself?
Every Wednesday and Sunday they host public cuppings for you to taste new brews. Last week it was a fresh crop of Ehtiopia Gedeo Worka. Today at 10 am they are hosting Marshal from Rishi Tea, an event they say, “should be very educational for a bunch of coffee geeks!”
Bonus: Check out this amazing video done by Charley Voorhis on Vimeo showcasing Olympia Coffee Roasters
Olympia Coffee Roasting Co.
108 Cherry Street
Olympia, Washington 98501
Mon-Fri: 7-6 pm
Sat: 8-6 pm
Sun: 9-5 pm