South Africa’s coffee industry is small with just seven coffee farms located in the country. None are in the Western Cape but coffee culture has exploded in Cape Town in recent years with boutique cafes springing up across the city, selling their brews at premium prices.
According to the scientific journal Climatic Change, half of the land used to produce high-quality coffee could be unproductive by 2050.
Bean There coffee founder Jonathan Robinson said personal relationships with coffee growers were necessary to maintain a sustainable coffee industry.
“Ensuring the sustainability of the coffee industry requires coffee companies to form direct relationships with their growers.
“Farmer education, more sustainable techniques and technologies as well as ongoing research are needed in order to support coffee farmer economies,” he said.
Bean There became one of the first coffee roasters in South Africa to be certified by Fairtrade.
The Fairtrade label was established to serve the interests and rights of farmers, workers and producers. Paying fair prices motivates farmers to grow their businesses and innovate how and where they grow their crop.
“We pay consistent, fair prices for our beans and we conduct regular trips to meet with, receive feedback from and support training programmes for growers in the co-ops we purchase from,” said Robinson.
David Donde from Truth Coffee Roasting said he saw no value in the Fairtrade label.
“We have hundreds of bags here and no one knows the labels on them. If you have farmer A that gets certification and farmer B that doesn’t, but the quality is the same, then who benefits?”
He adds: “You don’t need a certification because if you’re ethical it doesn’t matter. Fairtrade works for those that are in the system and does a lot of good, but for those out of the system there’s no value.”
Donde said climate change was constant and change in coffee produce was inevitable.
“The places where certain coffees are grown will change and this will cause migration of farmers, but climate change won’t stop coffee from being grown,” he said.
Truth Coffee Roasting was named as the best coffee shop in the world by the UK’s Daily Telegraph.
Donde said it was a challenge to find people who were truly passionate about coffee, and being located in the southern tip of Africa was difficult while bureaucratic red tape remained a stumbling block.
“We’ve been doing it successfully for 13 years. Africa not only produces the finest-quality coffee beans with the best aroma and taste, it is also a continent rich in innovative ideas that support the environment and make coffee production sustainable and affordable for producers, distributors and consumers,” he said.