Show 10: Coffee Co-Mission and the secrets of Fair Trade


Manage episode 246253187 series 2540903
By Teeg Stouffer, Ryan Libby, and Michelle Guzinski. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Have we ever thought about where our candy comes from? Yes – Teeg has – but probably hasn’t valued it highly enough.

Our pal Katie B sent a photo of the super-discount cart!

Candy Corn talk: Teeg tried to surprise his wife, Amy, with generic “Harvest Corn” and she wasn’t having it. Michelle got some winning post-halloween discount Candy Corn. Ryan is winning with a mix of candy corn and peanuts – yum.

Our guest this week – Daniel Ehrlich – is vegan. He’s at the heart of making change in our coffee culture.

Daniel Ehrlich created the Love Co-Mission, Coffee Co-Mission and Blue Marble Chemical. He’s using his life to make the world a better place – after pursuing a career in auto racing, where he became a champion Formula One racer in Canada.

This week it’s Teeg’s candy picks, and his first candy is Wiley Wallaby’s Red Licorice. It’s unbelievably good. Michelle said she’s disappointed that she’d never had it before and might never eat a Twizzler again.

Daniel’s passion as a young man was to race cars, and that’s an expensive sport – so it made him an entrepreneur at age 23. The ups and downs of life shifted his perception, so he stepped back from his work as a bamboo flooring importer. After a sabattical, he decided he wanted to do things that were more selfless.

The Love Co-Mission would help to raise money for other non-profits; a social enterprise to help worthy non-profits. It didn’t take long before he started to see issues with the supply chain in coffee, and wanting to make a difference there.

We talk racing – one thing that was pretty amazing was that fractions of an inch can make a big difference between winning and losing.

Daniel’s favorite piece of memorabilia from those days? The front wing from his car in one of his most memorable crashes.

What’s tougher – racing an oval or a road course? Daniel says a road course, but that doesn’t mean an oval isn’t tough, they’re both tough.

What’s tougher then – racing or changing the world of coffee? They’re both tough – but with coffee, we’re doing something totally different, and that would be like if someone figured out a totally different way to race a car.

“It’s usually foolish to try and reinvent the wheel, but that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.”

What’s wrong with a cup of Folger’s or Starbucks?

It started with a disconnect between the source – where it’s grown – to the person drinking the cup of coffee. The supply chain was built on maintaining control of that disconnect. Exporters & importers like to keep a bit of disconnection between the opposite ends. Coffee roasters are starting to want more information about the growers, but exporters hate communicating things to the farmers.

When we meet with farmers and tell them what people want in the U.S. or other places in the world, it blows their mind.

When we think about coffee strictly as a commodity, we tend to just get the cheaper thing.

We’re trying to connect people to the actual farmer because if we know the other person, it’s harder to tell that person, “give me your last nickel.” We want people to realize that there is a face on the other side of that commodity.

I actually think there is more work that goes into a good shot of espresso than a good glass of wine.

But we look at them totally different.

Next trial: Mexican Jalapeno Peanut M&M’s

Daniel the Vegan can’t eat them – they’re not vegan. These come in three colors, red yellow and green. These are part of the “Around the World” flavors – Teeg loves them, Ryan loves them – but he thinks they finish pretty spicy. Michelle: no so much. “Don’t put vegetables in chocolate, jalapenos are a vegetable.”

Teeg tries to get Daniel to tell us why we should be Vegan – he said he’s not like that; he did it for health reasons, and he thinks it’s having heard an interview with Alan Iverson, who was vegan or vegetarian.

What’s wrong with Fair Trade & Organic?

Fair Trade can push farmers into producing a certain crop. That means I am buying coffee that is already on a container ready to come to me. I’m paying that money to an exporter. Fair Trade basically protects exporters. But it’s marketed as protecting farmers – and the money never really trickles down to the farmers.

Fair Trade, as an organization, is a private for-profit company in the U.S. The exporter might get $1.90 per pound for coffee – and Fair Trade gets $.40 of that. The farmer might get $.65 per pound, and might lose money every year until they lose their farm.

The only time Fair Trade would help a farmer is if the farmer is big enough to have his own export license, and at that point, they already have enough money.

Daniel thinks that Fair Trade takes advantage of people’s trust. It’s like the charlatan preacher who has ruined people’s faith.

Final snack: not candy. Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds. We all tried them. Ryan’s research: Blue Diamond has been around since 1910. Michelle’s memory is that as a kid, if she visited a liquor store for wine with her mom, she’d get either these or Corn Nuts. Ryan loves them, salt makes them good, the smokehouse flavor is a hit. Teeg likes them, of course, Daniel gives them 6/10 because they’re too salty to eat constantly.

Boxcar Coffee in Boulder is the kind of roaster we want to support. Advice anyone can do: once in a while, buy a little more expensive coffee – let’s just push up the global ceiling on coffee. Right now everything is so skewed toward cheap, lowest possible price.

Coffee farmers aren’t trying to save up for a new Lexus or a new swimming pool. They’re trying to put their kids through school, they’re trying to put a new roof on their house.

We talk about adding Coffee Co-Mission to roaster’s bags – and where people can find more:

11 episodes