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Great coffee, but at what cost? How Jonathan Robinson aims to end exploitation…

Written by: Kabous le Roux

Agnus is my favourite farmer! She’s in Kenia… She, probably, best summarises the story of ‘fair trade’… I really connected well with her… One of her kids was in school, but one was not… Why I’m here is to trade fairly with Agnus. If I do that she will be able to look after her own kids, and she would be able to sort her own life out… She put her own kids through school… she’s got a brick house, two cows, a TV… We browsed the last 10 years of photos since we’ve traded with her on her iPhone on Facebook… She’s taken responsibility for her own life, but it is exiting that we played some small part…

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

We’re not driven hectically by profit; we’re driven by making a difference.

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

Bean There Coffee Company is South Africa's first roaster of certified fair trade coffee.

Jonathan Robinson founded Bean There in his garage back in 2005.

Today, Bean There is run from two roasteries in Johannesburg and another in Cape Town.

Bean There sources all their coffee (120 tons!) directly from co-operatives made up of small-time farmers in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Arabile Gumede (in for Bruce Whitfield on The Money Show) interviewed Robinson for the weekly “ShapeShifter” feature.

Listen to the interview in the audio below (and/or scroll down for more quotes from it).

I didn’t get into coffee because I was mad about coffee… I never thought I’d make a business out of it…

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

I really wanted to get to know the communities we buy the coffee from… to make sure we were buying amazing coffee from communities we could impact long-term…

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

We deal with an exporter… You can get properly burned...

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

Coffee is quite well regulated…

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

…I had success, but I looked for significance…

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

My wife supported our family during the first couple of years when you’re not taking a salary and putting everything back into the business.

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

Turnover is vanity. Profit is sanity. Cash flow is reality.

Jonathan Robinson, Bean There Coffee Company

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This article first appeared on 702 : Great coffee, but at what cost? How Jonathan Robinson aims to end exploitation…




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