Honduran Coffee: Reinventing the Direct Trade Model

Aldea Coffee

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 10. Reduced Inequalities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Aldea Coffee is a certified B Corporation that specializes in the ethical sourcing and local roasting of direct trade coffee. Their ability to form close relationships with suppliers and the community contributes to their success and overall impact. Through community outreach, fair prices, and recycled materials, Aldea Coffee focuses on promoting social, fiscal, and environmental responsibility every step of the way.

Authors

Katelyn Kam

Katelyn Kam

Logan Marquez

Logan Marquez

School

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University

Professor

Jeff Thies

Jeff Thies

Innovation

From its non-profit in Honduras to cafes in Michigan, Aldea Coffee works with individual farmers to develop, grow, and process specialty coffee. To do this, a direct trade model was adopted. Aldea simply purchases coffee right from Honduran producers and eliminates the need for a middleman. Brittany Goode, a Sales Associate at Aldea Coffee, explained the model further, “The direct trade model is a rare one to find in the coffee industry. It requires that you have direct relationships with the coffee farmers, visit them often, and continue building with the same farmers over the years. The ability to source the coffee from one area in Honduras makes the supply chain that much better.” Aldea Coffee doesnʻt have shipments coming in from all over the world. Instead, shipments come once a year, from the same people, from the same place, stored in the same area, and are roasted right on the spot. With this supply chain method, relationships between the roasters and the producers are intimate, special, and paramount. Further, Aldea Coffeeʻs 11-year-old non-profit organization, Aldea Development, strives to assist the farmers and families of the La Unión, Lempira municipality through microloans, training, market access, and community partnership projects. As a result, microloans granted to small-scale Honduran farmers help to increase their overall production and income. This is important because coffee producers constantly struggle to find sufficient buying prices for their harvests. Aldea works to address this problem by providing Honduran farmers with financial stability via higher buying prices. Partnering with the same farmers provides them with a constant income in return. As a result, farmers like Marlon Cárcamo, benefit from more financial security to provide for his family. All in all, Aldea Coffeeʻs true goal is community development, addressing SDG 8, 10, and 12 by promoting decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, and responsible consumption and production.

Honduran Coffee: Reinventing the Direct Trade Model

Inspiration

Andrew Boyd saw a potential business opportunity with the Honduras non-profit, Aldea Development, and began Aldea Coffee in 2015. Andrew Boyd, co-owner of Aldea Coffee, began with microtransactions as a fertilizer loaner for coffee farmers. After witnessing unfair pay amongst the coffee farmers, he altered his business strategy to import coffee into the United States. Boyd started by providing Honduran farmers with development classes. To ensure everything went smoothly, he created a small team in Honduras. Though Aldea Coffee and Aldea Development began as one entity, they split in 2015 to increase their impact and efficiency. Aldea Coffee concluded it's split by agreeing to pay 1% of its quarterly revenue to Aldea Development. In 2015, Aldea opened its first cafe in Grand Haven, Michigan. In 2016, Aldea created their own roastery.

Aldea's mission statement is, "Together, through all we craft, we emphasize quality and value in every interaction. We believe the earth to be an inspiring place, and we empower each other to explore, enjoy, and preserve it." Since its conception as a non-profit to become its own entity, Aldea has always stayed true to its mission. Aldea Coffee furthered its commitments in becoming a B-Corp. Aldea started its transition in January of 2018 to transform the company into a B-Corp. However, it took over two years to meet all of the conditions and requirements. In September 2020, Aldea Coffee was officially certified as a B-Corporation. Though the process was grueling, Brittany Goode explained that the shift was essential for their success, “It takes a small business like ours and helped us create policies, track volunteer time, and streamlined the whole process. It legitimized who Aldea was as an organization.”

Overall impact

Whether it be through microloans, irrigation training, or various community projects, Aldea Coffee has had a significant impact on the lives they have touched. Aldea purchases over 25,000 pounds of coffee from Honduran farmers each year. Their commitment to the community is apparent in that Aldea pays the coffee farmers 53% more than the fair trade rate. This has enabled farmers to achieve greater profits and provide their families with better lives. Not only has Aldea improved the livelihood of many farmers but also the lives of those in Aldea Coffee’s community. By hosting 19 community sustainability and environmentally friendly events, totaling over 200 hours of community service in 2019 alone, Aldea Coffee has sparked a movement towards sustainability and environmental consciousness in their hometown of Grand Haven, Michigan.

Business benefit

Aldea Coffee’s innovative direct trade model has paved the way for their future. Brittany Goode, a Sales Associate at Aldea Coffee, stated that the success of their intimate supplier relationships has allowed for the expansion to other countries like Tanzania and other counties in Michigan.

Aldea has a warehouse in Muskegon Heights where they mainly roast their coffee beans. Brittany described Aldea Coffee as a family to its employees, its suppliers, and its customers. She hopes the company can bring that same message and love to others that need it and hopes to inspire other businesses to adopt the direct trade model as well.

Social and environmental benefit

Not only does Aldea have some really tasty coffee, but they also help the world to become a better place. Let’s start with the positive social benefits. As already discussed, the direct trade model allows Aldea to ensure their coffee suppliers are making a living wage and can have their voices heard. Aldea Coffee knows all of their farmers on a personal level because of Aldea Developmentʻs prior work in Honduras. Aldea is making a positive impact in the Honduran community and is making a big difference in their Michigan community as well. They have held many educational community sessions regarding the benefits of sustainability. When no one could gather together this year for Aldeaʻs annual beach clean up, they decided to take a week off from selling coffee to organize a virtual beach clean up. Surprisingly, this attracted more participants than ever before.

When it comes to the environment, Aldea Coffee is once again a shining star. One of the most common pieces of waste in the coffee industry is the cherry that is grown along with the coffee bean. Though these are usually thrown away, the coffee beans can actually be collected and shipped off. In response, Aldea created a way to sustainably use and recycle the cherries. The co-founder of Aldea Coffee, Andrew Boyd, further found that the cherry can be used to create a cascara syrup, used in lattes. He also discovered that through a form of worm composting, the cherries can be used to fertilize the next batch of coffee plants. But the sustainable practices don’t end in Honduras. Aldea Coffee also works hard to ensure that nearly everything used in its coffee shops is sustainable. Using compostable cups, eliminating the use of straws, and making Aldea merchandise from pre-owned apparel, are just a few of the many ways Aldea Coffee is striving to be a leader in sustainability.

Interview

Brittany Goode, Sales Associate

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Aldea Coffee

Aldea Coffee

Grand Haven, Michigan, US

Business Website: https://www.aldeacoffee.com/

Year Founded: 2009

Number of Employees: 51 to 200

Aldea Coffee is an organization that emphasizes quality and value in every interaction and strives to preserve earthʻs greatest resources. They source their coffee from Honduran producers with a direct trade model. Aldea Coffee is committed to bettering the lives of their farmers, their families, the community, and their customers.