There has recently been a somewhat misguided campaign opposing Sainsbury’s dropping FairTrade (they actually have not as today I bought FairTrade tea).  Misguided, as FairTrade a scam to make middle class feel good.  The controversy has though opened up a conversation and made people question FairTrade.

Why buy from a supermarket when will have a better choice of quality coffee, direct trade not FairTrade in indie coffee shops, small retailers and direct from coffee roasters?

In Brighton spoilt for choice.

Grocer and Grain has a good selection of coffee on sale, then there are the many indie coffee shops, many of which roast their own coffee, for example Bond Street, Coffee at 33, Pelicano, Small Batch, to name but a few.

Looking in Infinity Foods, I was after bread not coffee, but I always check the coffee, I noticed a coffee I had not seen before. Source. What caught my attention was the claims they were making.

On the bag carbon credits.

Carbon credits a scam, simply a market for speculators and banks, you know the same people who brought us dodgy financial instruments and the banking crisis, an excuse to pollute and emit more carbon.

Kevin Anderson

Offsetting is worse than doing nothing. It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.

For an offset project to be genuinely low-carbon, it must guarantee that it does not stimulate further emissions over the subsequent century. Although standards and legislation around offsetting and the CDM sometimes consider ‘carbon leakage’ in the projects’ early years, it is impossible to quantify with any meaningful level of certainty over the timeframes that matter. To do so would presume powers of prediction that could have foreseen the Internet and low-cost airlines following from Marconi’s 1901 telegraph and the Wright brothers’ 1903 maiden flight.

Assume I broke my (self-imposed) seven-year refusal to fly, paid my £35 offset and boarded a plane from Manchester to London for the conference. In doing so, I add to the already severe congestion at airports, causing delays and allowing politicians to argue for greater airport capacity, arguments only reinforced by the rise in passengers turning to offsets. To meet increasing demand, airlines are encouraged to order new aircraft, which they promise will be more efficient. Feeling pressure, a future government approves new runways, but the extra flights and emissions swamp efficiency gains from the cleaner engines.

Meanwhile, in an Indian village where my offset money has helped to fund a wind turbine, the villagers now have the (low-carbon) electricity to watch television, which provides advertisers of a petrol-fuelled moped with more viewers, and customers. A fuel depot follows, to meet the new demand, and encourages others to invest in old trucks to transport goods between villages. Within 30 years, the village and surroundings have new roads and many more petrol-fuelled mopeds, cars and trucks. Meanwhile, the emissions from my original flight are still having a warming impact, and will do for another 100 years or so.

Where is the offset in that?

A qr code directs to a website, with a  link to their web site and a video.

The video marketing hype, more marketing hype if check out any of their coffee.

Every coffee bean has a story to tell. Only so much can write on a bag. A qr code is a means to tell that story by pulling up more information, only as used it does not.

They claim gourmet coffee.   There is no such thing as gourmet coffee. Meaningless marketing hype.

There is speciality coffee, any coffee with a Q grade higher than 80.  Union only buy 84 and higher, Taf 85 and higher.  Ninety Plus only if over 90.

From their webite for one of their coffees

Brimming with environmental, social and ecological benefits …

Contrast with Horsham or Union, information on the coffee, where sourced from, tasting notes, not marketing hype.

They also give their coffee strength numbers, something  only see in a supermarket for commodity coffee. Again meaningless.

Dark roast does not bring out the best in coffee, especially high quality Arabica coffee. It is used to hide the defects in cheap commodity coffee, coffee with Q rating below 80.

Their most ludicrous claims are that they are the only coffee company protecting the world’s forests.

Many in the industry would beg to differ.

Union are working with Kew to protect a forest in Ethiopia.

Ninety Plus has reforested overgrazed land in Panama, now growing Geisha under the shade of the trees.

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