Frequently Asked Questions
Why is coffee such a big deal?
Coffee is the second most traded commodity after crude oil. Around 2.2 billion cups of coffee are drunk around the World every day. The global coffee industry is thought to be worth over US$ 18bn.
Where is coffee grown?
Generally coffee is grown in a band between the tropics, within around 1,500 kms of the Equator. Coffee is grown in more than 50 (mostly developing) countries, with approximately two thirds grown in Latin America. Other significant coffee growing areas are East Africa, Vietnam, India.
Why do people worry so much about coffee farmers?
70% of the world’s coffee is grown by around 25 million smallholder farmers in developing countries; usually subsistence farmers who grow a small amount of coffee as a cash crop. The coffee they grow is often their only source of income. The fluctuating coffee market, climate change, crop failure, increasing cost of growing crops can mean that many small famers struggle even to make a modest living from the coffee they grow.
Who buys all this coffee?
The World coffee market is dominated by four multinational corporations: Kraft (owner of Maxwell House and other brands), Nestle, Proctor and Gamble and Sara Lee. Much of the coffee they buy goes into making instant coffee. Other buyers include major chains such as Starbucks. Thousands of small independent and artisan roasters buy the remainder, often seeking out the best quality higher value coffee.
So why does all this matter?
Coffee is a major cash earning export crop for many developing (third World) countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Many of these countries are heavily dependent on international aid from more developed countries, but could better support themselves if they were able to secure decent prices for what they export. Why not have a go on our Coffee Calculator to see how little value from a cup of coffee ends up back with the small farmer.
Why was the Black Gold Foundation set up?
The Black Gold film continues to have an enormous impact in raising awareness about the inequities in the global coffee trade and mobilising thousands of people into taking action on many levels. It was in response to the question from audiences “What Can I Do?” that the Black Gold Foundation was set-up.
What is the Black Gold Foundation going to do about this?
Well, as we start out with the Foundation, we want to give people a place to continue the debate about the issues raised in the movie and wider coffee trade justice issues. We will be publishing insightful articles about the issues, working with consumers, industry and farmers to agree some principles for Great coffee, and creating education resources for schools, colleges, communities to use. Keep visiting the site and support our work.
Surely if we all buy FairTrade or Rainforest Alliance certified coffee it will solve the problem?
Fair Trade, and other certification schemes, like Rainforest Alliance have made some difference in helping to raise awareness amongst consumers and providing increased income to some small farmer cooperatives. But schemes like these will only ever have limited impact on such a huge global market; they are not appropriate for all small farmer organisations and they are can be costly and complicated. There is also a growing concern that some less ethical companies are certifying some of their products in an attempt to “green wash” their brand.