What is Cooperative Coffees’ Impact Fund?
Through rigorous and transparent practices, Cooperative Coffees (and roaster-members like Desert Sun) promote sustainability through direct and open communication with farmers, mutual respect, long-lasting relationships, and productive payments above Fair Trade global pricing. One of the ways we nurture these relationships for longevity and sustainability is through participating in Cooperative Coffees’ Impact Fund. The Impact Fund is an environmental service fund that invests directly in our coffee producing partners. As a part of our Carbon, Climate and Coffee Initiative, it was originally intended to support climate mitigation work. For every pound of coffee we purchase, three cents is collected into Cooperative Coffees' Impact Fund. We aren’t the only roaster who participates. In fact, every member of the cooperative contributes this way! This system creates a pool that is made available to our farming partners for investments in sustainable initiatives such as organic compost, reforestation, technical assistance, farmer-to-farmer training, and more. Such direct investment in small scale coffee producers is extremely rare in today’s coffee economy.
The Impact Fund was originally created back in 2013 as an internal emergency-relief fund for La Roya issues (aka leaf rust). Since then, mostly in 2014-2017, the fund has continued to develop into a collaborative initiative with the Root Capital/Progreso Network Climate Resiliency Match Fund. Through this collaboration, Cooperative Coffees was able to leverage nearly US $650,000 that was invested with 11 producer partners across Latin America. Some ways that money was used was to improve compost production, field renovation, and technical training in regenerative and organic practices. Coop coffees also hosted four regional educational events, supporting farmers learning from one another and exchanging to the benefit of 20 farmer cooperatives. Ultimately, more than 12,500 farmer families were supported during this event.
Starting in 2019, with allocated financial support, CoopCoffees, Cool Farm Alliance, Root Capital, and The Chain Collaborative will work together with other producer cooperatives such as Manos Campesinas, COMSA, Norandino, Sol y Cafe and Pangoa to track net carbon capture. We will be accomplishing this using the Cool Farm Tool and encourage best regenerative and organic practices in their fields.
This fund has especially allowed us to be adaptable in responding to our producer’s needs, and is exactly what we mean when we say that long-term, healthy relationships and partnerships are a huge priority. On April 22, 2020, Cooperative Coffees' board of directors approved the allocation of $130K from the Impact Fund for immediate COVID relief in coffee farming communities. Rio Azul General Manager Francisco Delgado Quiñonez said, “With this support, we’ll be able to deliver food and basic provisions to each of our members in and around Jacaltenango (Guatemala); this will be an enormous relief for them and for their families.”
Because of our efforts through the Impact Fund, along with the participation in the Carbon, Climate and Coffee Initiative, in 2020 Cooperative Coffees was awarded the Specialty Coffee Association’s Sustainability Award in the Business Model Category. We’re honored to be a part of this movement towards ethical practices in the coffee industry. We at Desert Sun are extremely proud of our role in all of these initiatives. It testifies to our enduring commitment to doing the right: for people, for the planet, and for the perfectly roasted bean.