|Ten Thousand Villages manager Trish Padilla|
Store manager Trish Padilla said she decided to carry the Level Ground brand (replacing another popular fair trade brand) after making a personal connection with Hugo Ciro the founder of Level Ground. (Read more about the history of the company).
Level Ground also offers dried fruit, cane sugar and coconut oil, but the Ten Thousand Villages store in Santa Fe does not yet carry these products. The store does carry several types of coffee, including French Roast, and beans from Tanzania, Colombia, among others.
Here's an explanation about direct trade from Ethical Coffe.net
Direct trade is a term used by coffee roasters who buy straight from the growers, cutting out both the traditional middleman buyers and sellers and also the organizations that control certifications such as Fair Trade and Bird Friendly, for example. Direct trade proponents say their model is the best because they build mutually beneficial and respectful relationships with individual producers or cooperatives in the coffee-producing countries. Some roasters do it because they are dissatisfied with the third-party certification programs, while others want to have more control over aspects ranging from the quality of the coffee, to social issues, or environmental concerns.
What's the downside?
A lack of certification from a group like the Fair Trade Federation means that the consumer must believe in the company. "If you trust the company to stick to its own standards, without third-party certification (and if you agree with their standards), then all's well. But there's no outside enforcement, so standards could be changed or weakened at any time," said Ethical Coffee.net
This concern might not apply to Level Ground, which has has pledged to keep the practices that make its coffee direct fair trade. Read More
Next: Part 2 will take a closer look at the Ten Thousand Villages Store