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Cafédirect PLC
Industry Fairtrade beverages
Founded 1991
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Key people
John Steel (CEO), Jeff Halliwell (Chairman)
Products Coffee, Tea, Cocoa

Cafédirect is a UK-based alternative trading organization. Cafédirect is the UK’s first and largest 100% Fairtrade drinks brand. It is the only tea and coffee brand to have received ethical accreditation from the Ethical Company Organisation, top marks in all categories across Fairtrade, human, animal welfare and environmental criteria. Besides coffee, Cafédirect has a hot beverage range that includes 100% Fairtrade tea and hot chocolate. Cafédirect works with over 280,000 coffee, tea, and cocoa growers in 38 registered Fairtrade producer organisations across 12 developing countries, affecting the lives of over 1.8 million people around the world.

Since 2006, the business has invested more than £4 million of its profits directly into the businesses and, in total, paid more than £12.9 million towards the businesses and communities of its grower partners.

Cafédirect's mission is to "champion the work & passion of smallholder growers, delivering great tasting hot drinks to improve livelihoods, whilst pioneering new better ways of doing business." The company's vision is "A rebalanced world which celebrates business as a force for good and measures success in the shared wellbeing of the communities it touches."[1]

Cafédirect was founded in 1991 by Oxfam, Traidcraft, Equal Exchange Trading and Twin Trading as a response to the 1989 global collapse in coffee prices. Cafédirect revolutionized the Fairtrade world by launching the movement's very first mainstream coffee brand. It was also the first Fairtrade coffee brand to carry the Fairtrade Mark in the UK and the first Fairtrade product to be sold in supermarkets such as Co-op and Safeway.

In 2007, the company's market share for hot drinks equated to 34%, 32%, and 14% respectively of the UK's Fairtrade coffee, tea, and drinking chocolate markets. In the overall market, Cafedirect is the 5th largest coffee brand and 7th largest tea brand in the UK.[2]

Producer support programmes[edit]

Cafédirect has established the Gold Standard, a guarantee to pay above the world market price for coffee, and to support the development of producers. Between 2004 and 2009, Cafédirect paid more than £7.5 million above the market price to growers (including Fairtrade premiums), invested over £3 million in tailor-made programmes to strengthen growers’ businesses and which represents more than 50% of the company's profits and in total, paid more than £10.5 million towards the businesses and communities of their grower partners.[2]

In addition to paying a fair price to growers in developing countries, the company donates a percentage of its profits to producers for activities such as market information and management training. In 2007, the company invested a £600,000 in its Producer Partnership Programmes (PPP) and these investments attracted, without additional cost to the company, matched funds of £700,000, meaning growers benefited from a total investment of £1.3 million.[2]

In 2007, the organization launched amongst other things:

  • Initiated a three-year public private partnership with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) to support small farmers in analysing the threats of climate change to their specific environments and identifying viable adaptation strategies
  • Supported its 162,007 African grower partners in developing community-led and cooperative-specific environmental initiatives to increase energy efficiency and reduce deforestation
  • Worked directly with tea growers to introduce an improved pricing structure to provide additional support when market prices drop. As a result, the company increased its minimum price by 8%, and, including the Fairtrade premium, paid on average 47% over and above market prices

Since then it has pioneered projects, such as the 'Reforestation Sierra Piura' project, which enabled coffee growers to join forces with subsistence communities nearby to overcome issues faced by climate change and provided a sustainable existence via carbon credit schemes. This was the first such project where carbon credits were wholly owned by the communities at origin.[3]


  • In 2008 and 2009 Cafédirect's products won 10 Gold Great Taste Awards from the Guild of Fine Foods.
  • In a survey of 2,000 global brands Cafedirect ranks No. 1 as the most recommended brand (Source: Millward Brown, March 2007).
  • Cafedirect's Machu Picchu gourmet coffee beans were awarded a Gold Star in the 2007 Great Taste awards.
  • Cafédirect's Machu Picchu ground and wholebean coffees both won Soil Association Awards in 2008.
  • Combining taste, price, ethics, and availability, Teadirect tops the Fairtrade Tea category: New Consumer Magazine, February 2008.
  • June 2009 Anne MacCaig, the (now former) Chief Executive of Cafedirect won the Triodos Bank Women in Ethical Business Awards, Ethical Business of the Year.
  • 2010 they won the ‘Sustainable Procurement’ category at the Sustainable City Awards, hosted by the City of London, and were runners up in the ‘Sustainable Finance’ category
  • 2011 Cafédirect won the Social Impact award at the 2011 Guardian Sustainable Business Awards for its Producer Partnership Programme (PPP)
  • 2013 Cafédirect won 'Best Ethical Brand' in the Good Housekeeping Food Awards and its Decaf Roast & Ground coffee won a Great Taste Award. Its Foodservice Decaf Espresso blend won a prestigious '3 Star' award.[4]


External links[edit]