Explore EA: FAQ
Exploring EA - Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the common questions we're asked and some short answers - these can often be involved and complex discussions so please do ask more.
1. What is fair trade?
We believe fair trade is a concept, a heart value, not a badge or a brand. We're amused by companies who offer a 'fair trade option' - it's either something you believe in and value or not. It's not an option just to take advantage of a market opportunity.
The FAIRTRADE Mark is a brand - a consumer label, but there are others such as RAINFOREST ALLIANCE and UTZ CERTIFIED who all seek to guarantee a better deal for disadvantaged producers in the developing world.
However, we see giving producers a “better deal” as the minimum and by no means the maximum.
Read more about the fairtrade discussion below or through our news pages and links there.
2. Why don't EA coffees have the Fairtrade label?
When we started out we thought they would, but as we learned more about coffee farming and the Fairtrade criteria we had to make a decision - do we want to do the right thing and help farmers, or just be seen to do the right thing with a label on all our bags?
This is a long and complex conversation, and we have a lot to say about it!
3. What do you mean by 'ethical'?
We believe being ethical is more than just "fair trade", it covers our entire business.
- We start by sourcing our coffee direct from the producer wherever possible and developing long-term relationships.
- We always pay at least ‘fair trade' prices to the farmers and more often than not we pay in excess of fair trade.
- From day one we have set out to run a transparent business. This will include who we work with, what we give away and why we do what we do.
- We not only pay a fair price but invest in the lives and communities of farmers through social projects like hydro-electric power and efficient wood-burning stoves.
- We partner with a charity working in Africa with marginalised children to give them an opportunity to succeed.
- Being ethical is about day-to-day life so we do try and recycle everything we can from paper to banana skins and composting coffee grounds!
- Ethics affect our pricing - competitive and profitable without being greedy.
- Ethics affect our service to you. We aim to excel in customer service.
- The future . . . we're dreaming about what more we can do.
4. So how do you describe what you do as 'direct trade' coffee suppliers?
We call our coffee 'direct trade' where we have established a relationship direct with the farms.
We often find ourselves working directly with producers on the ground and we always pay equal or higher than “fairtrade prices” with the understanding that this will be a direct benefit to the farmers. However we believe that this is direct fair trade. Sometimes buying direct means that coffee doesn't go through the certification system.
Direct trade gives you a connection to the farm, the people who grow your coffee. Direct trade gives you a real story to share with your customers.
Direct trade means we know the people who work hard for our great coffee and we know we've helped them improve their standard of living in a real and sustainable way.
It also gives us amazing opportunities to invest in social projects to transform lives - see our news stories.
This is a long debate that can't fully be entered into here but take a look at the IEA report for some insightful research and facts supporting the principles behind who we are and what we do.
Of further interest to those who want to explore ethical trade look at:
- Our news and stories where we link recent articles etc
- International trade consultant & Economist - Peter Griffiths
- Author, Economist, Adventurer & TV Presenter - Conor Woodman - New Book (2011) Unfair Trade: How Big Business Exploits the World's Poor
- And loads more - just search!
If you have any queries or concerns please email us and ask!
5. What about other companies claims about their 'ethical coffee'?
Ask them! Ethical business can be big business and appearing to be doing the right thing can help sales. We care about who is actually doing the right thing. There are some other good companies who, in our opinion, stand up to scrutiny in their claims. There are a lot who do not.
Ask questions - What do they mean by 'ethically sourced'? From which farm? How much do they know about the supply chain? And, most importantly: Can they tell you how much the farmer got paid (not the trader)?
6. Often 'fairtrade' coffees don’t taste as good, what about Ethical Addictions?
We agree, but it doesn’t need to be this way. This is why we’re in business. We wanted to buy great tasting ethical coffee but struggled. We found we either had to compromise our ethics or our taste buds, so we went about sourcing it ourselves direct from the farms. We only choose coffee that cups above an 80 score (often much higher) on the internationally recognised scale meaning everything we have is specialty coffee. We don’t believe there needs to be a compromise in quality or taste to deliver premium ethical coffee. Don’t believe us? Browse around the website and read some of our customers comments.
7. Can I have another cup of coffee please?
Yes, of course.
8. Do you roast yourselves in Gloucester?
Yes, but only sample roasting with new crops, and experimenting with new blends. Our commercial batch roasting is done once or twice a week in West Wales - our roaster has 30 years experience and we get complete control which is great for us when seasons change, new crops arrive or we create new blends