We believe strongly in business-based solutions to solve poverty's toughest problems—and the reality is that coffee is an industry in which the vast majority of its farmers live below the poverty line.
Many companies say they're doing something about that. But year after year, despite hopes of a better income through programs such as "fair" trade, the reality is that most coffee farmers continue to barely profit enough on their harvests to get by on.
Such a low income forces farmers to choose between taking care of their families or investing in their plantations, affecting their farm's long-term viability. As coffee drinkers, can't we do better?
We're dedicated to doing things differently. We're committed to putting farmers first when sourcing our coffee. We pay a 50% bonus on top of the market price farmers receive, which is as much as four times higher than "fair" trade.
When drinking coffee, we believe that the question, "Is your coffee 'fair trade?'" isn't good enough. Instead, we ask the following questions:
1. Who is the farmer that grew this coffee?
2. How much was he or she paid?
We're Matt and Robert, the co-founders of Farmers First Coffee Company. We met in Honduras in 2012: Matt was a volunteer English teacher and Robert was serving him a beer at his lodge a few miles down the road from Matt's school.
The region we've lived in, Lake Yojoa, is surrounded by coffee plantations and we had numerous opportunities to interact with coffee farmers and hear exactly what they face day to day: their realities, their struggles, their challenges living without a dignified income.
In 2013, Matt returned to the U.S. still dreaming of coffee and everything he'd seen. We remained friends and, in 2016, we decided it was time to team up and pursue a dream we had been talking about for years: to provide a better income to coffee farmers.
To do so, we decided we'd need to share the story of where coffee is grown with others, a story made a huge impact on each of our lives—one we both feel compelled to share with others.
The story of coffee begins with the people behind it, and Matt moved to Peru to join Robert where he'd been studying a Master's. We spent 9 months "at coffee's origin" working to create Farmers First Coffee Company, investigating the realities behind the coffee trade and discovering ways we felt we could make an impact.
Our findings, along with a combined total of 10+ years living and working in Latin America, led us to one simple conclusion. What do coffee farmers need most to create a more prosperous future for them and their families? A better income for their hard work.
Matt and Robert visiting a farm in northern Peru
Initial Supporters, Original Sponsors
We achieved our startup funding through a Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2017. 616 amazing people helped us make our dream a reality, and for that we are forever grateful.
Of special note are three business owners that believed in us before we'd ever sold a single coffee bean, agreeing to sponsor us. We'd like to thank them here:
Originally from the country of Georgia, the owner, Ana, moved to the USA at the age of 11. As the daughter of two internationally distinguished artists, Ana grew up surrounded by an array of artistic outlets, but found her greatest passions in traveling, Art & Archaeology, and jewelry making.
After obtaining a MA in Mediterranean Archaeology from University College London, Ana settled in the Washington DC area where she passionately devotes her spare time to creating small works of art. Using primarily fine silver sheet and intricate cloisonné details, she creates vibrant, one of a kind, hand crafted, glass and enamel jewelry.
In Summer, 2017, she launched her own jewelry line called GalleriaGeorgiAna. The brand not only incorporates the owner's name and country of origin, but also illuminates the centuries of enamel work Georgia is known and celebrated for. GalleriaGeorgiAna is now available for online sales of unique hand crafted jewelry, commissions, as well as jewelry repairs.
Other business sponsors were Ross S. and Harry L.