Worldwide 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed each and every day, with approximately 95 million of those being consumed in the UK.
Pact Coffee is one of the UK’s largest independent roasteries and its mission is to revolutionize the coffee industry; making it better for people and the planet. They claim to be taking action through direct-trade, paying great prices, building long-term relationships and using sustainable farming practices.
On their website, they claim the coffee industry is broken as “44% of coffee growers worldwide are living in poverty”. In their efforts to fix this issue they say they work with 200 individual farms from 9 different origins. Their Transparency Report stated that their 2020 impact is as follows: they worked with 124 farms paying an average price of $2.32 per lb of coffee – 65% above the Fairtrade price.
From the information I found, it appears that the company is truly trying to address a problem within the coffee industry. They pay above the Fairtrade premium, build longstanding relationships with the farmers and cut out the middle man. However, the variety of methods used by farmers to process the coffee cherries are very water-intensive which is not good for the planet. In addition, the packaging they currently use is not 100% recyclable and their roastery in the UK is not carbon neutral. Furthermore, transporting the product from 9 different origins to the UK and then distributing it through the UK adds a lot of miles to their supply chain meaning lots of carbon dioxide emissions.
Their product is a coffee subscription plan. Their customers get to create their own plan by choosing from 3 coffee ranges.
There are many varieties of coffee cherries and each type of coffee has a specific trait to do with cup quality and production. Pact claim to always encourage farmers to plant varieties that are in their best interests. They also say they do not add chemicals or flavourings to the coffee. The taste is all down to the way the coffee is produced and roasted. This way their customers are able to enjoy a natural taste experience.
Unfortunately, the packaging the company uses is not fully recyclable as of yet. They acknowledge this in their 2020 Transparency Report and have set a goal of having fully recyclable packaging by December 2021. Upon further reading, they say that they are currently working with a supplier who has created a bespoke prototype specifically for the company. Therefore, they are currently in the process of testing 20,000 bags.
Coffee cherries grow on trees and then are processed using either the washed, honey or natural processes. Each different processing method has an impact on the resulting bean, flavour and taste.
Not only are many of these processes water-intensive, but used coffee water is high in nitrates and so bad for the local water supply. In their sourcing policy: it is written that during every farm visit they must check if safe water processing methods are in place, alongside advising farmers on responsible and sustainable water processes such as using treatments like sand which is a particle filter. However well-intentioned this company policy is, it does not ensure that water conservation occurs at every farm they work with throughout the year which can potentially be very damaging for the local environments in the 9 origins in which they operate.
In 2020, their product was made by farmers from 124 different farms from 9 origins: Brazil, Rwanda, Colombia, Honduras, Ethiopia, El Salvador, Kenya, Guatemala, Peru. They differentiate themselves by going straight to the source and building long-lasting relationships with the farmers. In their transparency report they say that in 2020, 54% of Pact Coffee was produced by farmers living on small, rural farms. However, they do not specify the types of farmers producing the remaining 46%.
In the transparency report, there is a section titled meet the coffee farmers which highlights 4 of the coffee farmers they work with: Epiphanie Mukashyaka from Rwanda, Pact relationship length 7 years, Maria Pacas from El Salvador, Pact relationship length 6 years, Walter Calix from Honduras, Pact relationship length 4 years and Marcus Carvalho from Brazil, Pact relationship length 7 years. In addition, they say that each coffee is named in accordance with the farm that it comes from, informing the customer of who grew their coffee whilst also ensuring transparency over where the coffee comes from.
In regards to the price the farmers receive for their coffee, there is conflicting data all over their website and transparency report. At the beginning of the transparency report, they state that during 2020 they continued to pay premium prices: 55% above the Fairtrade base price. In a different section of the report where they break down the premium paid in each origin, they say that on average they paid 65% above the Fairtrade base price. Furthermore, in yet another section of the report, they state that they will always pay at least 25% above the Fairtrade price, usually in excess of that 25%. Although this number keeps changing, what remains consistent is their commitment to pay above the Fairtrade premium; which hasn’t changed since it was set in 2011 and does not account for the varying challenges faced in different regions.