Direct trade is a form of sourcing practiced by some coffee roasters, referring to direct sourcing from farmers, with standards varying between producers. Direct trade is seen as an alternative to Fairtrade certification, and represents the interests of roasters who disagreed with elements of Fair Trade, including:
- the lack of increase in fair trade premiums paid to farmers;
- the lack of what the direct trade advocates perceived as a sufficient quality-incentive for farmers;
- the limits on Fair Trade participation (i.e., individual farms cannot be certified unless part of a cooperative, and plantations and estates are not allowed to join cooperatives);
- the fees involved in being a participating Fair Trade company (e.g. fees, dues, and surcharges).
Advocates of direct trade practices promote direct communication and price negotiation between buyer and farmer, along with systems that encourage and incentivize quality. There is no agreed definition of the term, and, unlike Fair Trade coffee, there is no third party certification that the conditions stated by the coffee buyers are being complied with.
The term was pioneered by the collective efforts of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea (since 2006 or earlier), and Counter Culture Coffee. (since 2008), The term is also used by coffee roasters like Stumptown Coffee Roasters. In fact, within the specialty coffee industry, these three roasters are often referred to collectively as the "Big Three of Third Wave Coffee".
The term "direct trade" has since been adopted by other roasters; a list is maintained by the Direct Trade Coffee Club.
- Meehan, Peter (2007-09-12). "To Burundi and Beyond for Coffee’s Holy Grail". New York Times.
- What is Direct Trade coffee?
- How does Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification differ from Fair Trade Certification?
- Intelligentsia Direct Trade
- Intelligentsia | Direct Trade
- Counter Culture Coffee - Direct Trade
- The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Coffee and Conservation – comment, "Our Counter Culture Direct Trade Certification launched in 2008", Mark Overbay
- Stumptown - Direct Trade (details)
- The Decade's Top Ten in Specialty Coffee, Nick Cho, Dec 31 2009; also references Michaele Weissman's "God in a Cup", which features the group collectively.
- Direct Trade Coffee Club
- Direct Trade Coffee Club – organization promoting and offering monthly subscription coffee via roasters who have pledged to use Direct Trade sourcing