There are a lot people talking about healthy life in recent few years. In Hong Kong, people are usually having a busy life and being over-whelmed by work. Therefore, people are paying attention in work-life balanced recently,trying to have a healthier life. And thus, there are some merchants claiming the products they are selling are natural and organic, some of them are even saying that they are selling fair trade products which won’t exploit the producers in order to attract the customers. However, how many of their products are actually organic or fair trade certified? Even though there is certification, what is this represented? Does it bringing a positive or negative effect to us and our society? In this article, we would talk about the producer of recent new product in Coffee Roasters Asia (Indonesia Sumatra Aceh Gayo “Queen Ketiara” Organic Grade 1): Kopepi Ketiara Cooperative. We would introduce their production style and the operation objectives, so as to explain what the organic and fair trade coffee actually is.
Kopepi Ketiara Cooperative
Kopepi Ketiara Cooperative was established in 2009. It is located at Takengon, next to Gayo Mountain in Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. The soil in that area is absolutely suitable for growing arabica coffee. The coffee beans grown in that area are having a strong flavour and rich in layers. Moreover, The cooperative is using the famous processing method in Indonesia to process the green beans(semi- washed), it makes the coffee with low acidity and a thick body.
Kopepi Ketiara is 100% formed by small scale farmers. There are 1,979 members in total, most of them are women. That’s why the coffee they produced are named “Queen Ketiara”. All the members are well trained by the cooperative and only pick red cherries during harvesting. Kopepi Ketiara owns a dry mill facility in Takengon, which is quite rare in this origin. It is because all the Aceh suppliers usually have to send their coffee to Medan for final milling and pack into the bags. However, Kopepi Ketiara do everything in Takengon until the beans are bagged, which would help to protect it really well on the quality, as all the processing are done in cold and dry Takengon, without damaging the coffee while they are in Medan, which is in a hot and wet weather condition. Nowadays, they produces around 70 tons of the coffee beans to local business or exporter.
Why Fair Trade?
Rahmah, The founder of Kopepi Ketiara Cooperative has said that the motive of starting the cooperative is to make a breakthrough in the traditional coffee market in Indonesia, which is male-dominated. In traditional Indonesia, men are not only the power of family, but also having the authority in coffee industry. Rahmah worked in Indonesia traditional coffee industry for over 20 years, she knows well about this. She thinks that no matter how hard and excellent the women are, they won’t receive the reasonable rewards and benefits, nor the opportunity of standing in a fair stage. Rahmah thinks that female are having the same working ability as men, “why can’t I establish a cooperative?” And so, here is the first fair trade coffee cooperative which is mainly formed by women. This is a chance to let the talent and hard work of female can fully perform and show up.
In 2011, they joined the Fair Trade movement and acquired the fair trade certificated. Kopepi Ketiara is a Women Cooperative with 95% of members as women who lost their husbands during Aceh Civil war. Rahmah thought that joining the fair trade organisation is the only way for them. Their passion quite hit the point: Fair Trade is not about certification. This is about the value on how the coffee business and trading are creating welfare to the coffee growers, farmers, employees, customers, and ultimate: the planet. This is a trading system without trading under the counter, but with transparency. This would definitely provide a truly equal opportunity for women to develop, and make a better change in coffee industry.
Speaking of Fair trade certification, let me introduce a bit of this icon. The International Fair trade Certification Mark (as picture shown) is an independent mark for customers. There are 23 countries using at the moment. For those products which have this mark are representing the producers in the developing countries are having a comparatively fair treat in the trading. This mark is owned and protected by the FLO International, who represents 20 advocates of fair trade.
For those products which have this mark, they must come from the producers who were certified and suspected by FLO-CERT. The plantation and harvesting are in the standard which FLO-CERT stated. In addition, the supply chain is monitored by FLO-CERT as well, in order to make sure the integrity of the product. Only for those who have authorization can use this mark.
The International Fair trade Certification Mark is showing a cheering human: to represent the producer who are having the fair trading through the Fair trade organisation. At the same time, this represents the customer who knowing they are doing something good through the Fair trade product.
Not only the International Fair trade certification, Kopepi Ketiara Cooperative is organic certified as well. They use the organic farming method in plantation so as to protect the water source and the ecology. This sustainable agricultural law acquired the certification from USA, Europe and Japan. Having the certification implies that the product fulfilled the principles and requirements of the organic mark. It is not an simple work: to gain the certificate, especially the European one, it needs to pass a series of control and rules.
Let’s take the European mark as an example. Owning this mark represent the product:
1. At least 95% of the agricultural ingredients are organic.
2. There are strict limitations to the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers, antibiotics
3. Organic agriculture strictly limits the use of food additives and processing aids and other inputs.
4. Contains less than 0.9% of GMO’s content.
What are these points actually represent? As a normal human being, what kind of effect or change in life would have if we choose an organic product or organic coffee? To be honest, it’s worth to say yes to organic coffee even though we just consider the personal health. Organic food is the top level in security level. They have a strict control in production by law, they are no polluted, natural and no harm to human. As we all know, coffee is a plant, it would be so easy to get polluted by pesticides and fertilizer. Therefore, choosing organic coffee can ensure to get a cup of tasty, and also healthy coffee.
Moreover, saying yes to organic coffee is an effort that we can do to environment and humanity. The reason why people in Europe and the United States are so appreciated and supportive to organic products not just because it makes them healthier, but also it is a kind of care to our environment. Look at the Kopepi Ketiara Cooperative, they choose a sustainable way to produce coffee. The production process is full of respect for nature and the environment. This attitude makes the Cooperative have a sustainable development in an environmentally friendly way. If they are able to have a sustainable development, it implies that the women in the Cooperative could have more opportunities to grow and develop. The more opportunities they have, the more chances the world could enjoy such a beautiful coffee. This positive cycle is full of benefits to the whole ecology.
From the story of the Kopepi Ketiara Cooperative, we could clearly see that the Fair Trade movement and Organic production could bring the positive change and possibility to the world. By joining the International Fair trade movement, Rahmah is leading the women in Indonesia to change their own life and to be self-reliance. Speaking in a long term, their actions are actually changing the world.
Moreover, from the above discussion, we could notice that organic production is a production way with a high transparency to the customers. Customers are knowing better about what are they actually customing. This is what Coffee Roasters Asia believing and applying in our production as well. We do specialty coffee, not just hoping to bring the high quality and diversity of the coffee, but also having a sense of mission to show the story behind a cup of coffee, the origin itself, the coffee production and processing method to each of the coffee lovers. By doing that, customers would know what are they actually having. The coffee which is organic or fair trade certified is showing the production process to customers more accurate. This is what we appreciate and support.
Perhaps there are a lot of people criticize about the actual changes or effect on society by producing or buying Fair Trade or organic coffee. Here we would use a phrase by a cocoa farmer from Mexico to give a response to this critic: “Little drops of water make the mighty ocean.” Drinking a cup of coffee seems to be a tiny thing. However, if we could feel satisfied not just by the flavour of the coffee, and also by the positive effect on society or even the environment that we brought, this tiny thing would not be tiny anymore.
We sincerely hope that you would enjoy our choice this time as we do.