In Good Faith
I always said, "If and when baseball comes to an end, I will be able to hold my head high, because no matter what, I know I have worked hard and have maxed out my potential." We never know the path life will take us, but we can control our effort and our purpose in this moment in time. This comforted me then, when I knew I wasn't good enough, and it comforts me now, when looking at what we've built so far with Z Beans. Doesn't that comfort you, too - knowing your end result can be controlled by the effort and purpose you put forth today? If it scares you, think deeply about it - what is the root of that fear?
I've read many articles about the coffee industry. I've read articles that discuss the concept of 'fair trade' - articles that discuss specialty coffees - articles that discuss the roasting process - and articles that discuss the intricate details of 'cupping' coffees. Everything that I read places a supreme importance upon the quality of a product, which is understandable. If you are in the coffee industry, the focus has to be on providing your consumers with quality coffee. But, is that the most important aspect?
Is the quality of coffee more important than one's quality of life?
The answer is no. However, businesses don't see it that way. The 'C' market for coffee just fell below $1, meaning businesses are purchasing coffee for less than $1 per pound. Economists have found that, relatively speaking, farmers need $1.25 per pound to 'break even.' So, what are they doing now that they can't? They aren't finding new forms of employment. Coffee is all they have ever known. I encourage you to take a look at this article here: Hidden Suffering. You'll get a small glimpse of what it's like to work in a coffee plantation.
Before I proceed, I would like to make myself clear. I am a capitalist at heart. I have accepted the doctrine of capitalism, and I believe that creating equality of results hurts more than it helps. However, I am a full believer in the concept of creating equality of opportunity.
With that being said, I refuse to build a business that perpetuates suffering. While I cannot reward everyone, because it is simply impossible, I will do my best to reward and partner with hardworking individuals in Ecuador and in The States. We pay our farmers anywhere between $2.20 and $2.70 per pound for their coffee. Even with a price point twice as high as the 'C' market's established mark, we have been able to build a business. It's not easy - it takes sacrifice from the leaders - and it takes a team that buys into the vocation. But, in the end, it creates a business that you are proud to be a part of - it creates a purpose you can hang your hat on.
Two weeks ago, I decided to partner with DayBreak, a wonderful organization that helps individuals facing homelessness. I spoke with Sister Theresa, the leader of Daybreak, and immediately, I knew this was the right fit for Z Beans. Since partnering, we have hired our first employee, and we are training him in our shop, so he can learn the valuable skills that come with being a barista and working in a retail location.
I tell you these two important vocations that we have embedded within our supply chain, because this is Z Beans' purpose. As I stated before, I do not know what direction life may take Z Beans, but I do know that we are building a business in good faith - one that we can appreciate - no matter the outcome.
I hope that you will challenge yourself to find something you can do that you will forever appreciate, because, whether we like it or not, everything has an expiration date - even really good coffee.