Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Richest Man's Coffee Is Free?

Does the richest person in the world Bill Gates drink coffee? According to one article I read he does drink coffee but he just doesn't always remember to pay for it. What kind of coffee does an extremely wealthy person like Bill Gates drink in his usual life, if any? Maybe his personal chefs have a micro roaster in their kitchen and they roast it fresh for him every day along with his fresh baked bread. Maybe they have chicken coops in his garden and he has freshly laid golden eggs for breakfast. It has always intrigued me how individuals that probably readily consume $1,000. bottles of wine thinking that they are cheap will drink the equivalent of rubbing alcohol in comparison when it comes to their coffee habit. I can't imagine someone such as Bill Gates drinking coffee in a small down local diner as was reported by one publication. The article said that he and famous news castor from NBC Tom Brokaw failed to pay for their coffee when they left a small town diner. Perhaps times of changed and the cappuccino he was supposedly drinking was the real mccoy. Somehow I doubt it but you never know. The one thing that I can tell you is that if Mr. Gates ever came into Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. for a cup of coffee it certainly wouldn't be on the house. I'd settle for an I O U but I'd never let one of his entourage put me off.

It is very nice of him and his wife though to travel around giving money away to the needy. If all of the worlds wealthy exercised such philanthropy the world would truly be a little nicer. It's encouraging that America is becoming a little more liberal again and the U.S.A.'s wealthy are going to exercise their latent philanthropic tendencies in the form of greatly increased taxation for the common good. Such is the nature of a true democracy. With a new and improved taxation system it may become impossible for future gillionaires to vault to such lofty monetary heights as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Donald Trump, Ted Turner, etc. But do really need new royalty in the world? Isn't it enough to have a profit incentive that with hard work and effort an individual can achieve a higher position than the common man without having the ability to buy them and control them. As has been said many times before "absolute power corrupts absolutely".

One of the reasons that I love specialty coffee is that it is one of the true connoisseur products in the world that I can justify the expense of. I cannot afford a bottle of wine that costs $100.00., let alone $1,000.00., or even a $1,000,000.00. Yet I can afford a cup of the finest coffee in the world for 20 to 30 cents. Our catch phrase for Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. is "gourmet coffee for connoisseurs". That doesn't mean that a person has to be one of the worlds wealthy to be able to afford it.
It is regrettable that is ever so much poverty in the world and their are billions and billions of people that do not have the ability to even afford 20 to 30 cents for a cup of coffee. These are problems that will not be solved easily. Though they can be solved.

Buying Fair Trade certified products absolutely helps. Buying any coffee or product that is grown in a third world country helps. At Mr. English we try to buy Fair Trade even if it costs more. But we continue to buy specialty coffee that isn't Fair Trade certified because it is our belief that not buying a countries product hurts a country as well as its poor farmers. There must be many examples of coffee farmers around the world that would like to become certified Fair Trade but they do not have the necessary information or funds to complete the ever increasing bureaucratic process of the certification process. It's not fair to cut them away from their livelyhoods just because they coudn't become certified. Fair Trade is a great idea and Mr. English Coffee absolutely supports it. But the world really isn't as black and white as many coffee marketers would have you believe. The world is full of colors and the Fair Trade certified concept is one of those beautiful colors.

Fair has many meanings to many different people. At Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. we are constantly trying to interpret what is fair and what is not. We buy as much Fair Trade certified coffee as long as we can still classify it as a grade A specialty coffee. We do not fly to poor coffee growing countries using precious fuel resources so that we can say we've been to Ethiopia, Zimbabwe,Honduras,Haitie, etc. and have seen many poor impovershed coffee farmers. In our mind this is unfair. Because the purpose of the trip wouldn't really be to help the poor coffee farmers out of their poverty but more of a marketing ploy.

So many of the coffee co.s in the world just love to travel to the coffee growing regions of the world in Indiana Jones style adventure themes so that they can say and show pictures of this years Yemen Mocha or this years Brazilian Arara and show a picture with their arm around one of the local farmers. This all seems really great and so very fair from the coffee co.s point of view. But if the coffee co. really thought from the point of view of the farmer: what do you think the farmer is thinking? Probably something like: "why do these coffee buyers spend so much money coming here every year taking pictures? Why don't they just save these precious traveling resources and pay more for my coffee so that I can feed my family? As mentioned earlier fair has many different meanings to many different people. Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. thinks that in small way that Bill Gates one of the richest persons in the world gets the idea and concept of fairness a little. He's incredibly super rich and it's unfair. It's never going to be fair but he's going to try and make it a little more fair by traveling around the world and giving away his money to worthy causes. I think that this philanthropy of Mr. Gates is a great deal more fair than the supposed kind hearted "Fair Trade" and now direct trade coffee roasting co.s that travel around the world haggling with the locals over the price of the beans. Some of these co.s claim to give %1 of their profits to charity. Some of them claim to be the fairest of the fair. Yet all of them are co.s that are profit based. It doesn't mean that what they do is wrong it's just that they paint a holier than thou image of their co.s that is just not accutate.

At Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. we don't believe there is anything wrong with making a profit. Profit will be one of the keys to solving many of these present world financial woes. We are just honest about it. We are here to roast and provide the best coffee in the world. "Gourmet Coffee For Connoisseurs" and try and make a fair and balanced profit. Mr. English has no plans to fly around the world taking pictures of the farmers for our marketing purposes. We'd rather just help the farmers by paying a fair price for their coffee as we can. Every expense that our co. incurs in traveling is basically taking food off the farmers plate in a very direct way. It may be a good idea for co.s to occasionally visit coffee growing regions to better understand about the product and develop better ties with the farmers. But these need for information and communication needs to be weighted very carefully to the present economic situation of the coffee farmer. If ones parents were living in a far off land and had been evicted from their house with no means of support would they want you to fly to see them and talk about your future together. Or would they rather have you just stay home and send them the $3,000 or so that it would cost for you to travel to see them and analyze their situation? I think most in such dire circumstances would rather receive direct money rather than offers of direct trade.

Traveling to a foreign country to actually cup the coffee at the source makes very little sense considering that when the container of beans arrive at port the beans that were cupped at the source by the direct trade coffee roasting co.s are the same exact lot of beans that Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. purchases through various brokers and trading co.s. Direct Trade co.s are typical importing in such small amounts that they cannot get reasonable shipping terms when compared to the larger co.s. Small Direct Trade roasters do not have the capital to purchase futures for the farmers crop so that the farmer can have security against next years crop prices for their families. Basically all that Direct Trade roasting co.s do is insult well established coffee brokerage and trading co.s for the benefit of their own profit based marketing ploys. There is a problem with the price that poor farmers are being paid for their coffee. And co.s like Starbucks, Peets, Tullys, McDonalds, etc. are responsible for this. They sell a 5 cent a cup cheap product for $3.00 to $5.00 a cup. The The well established coffee brokerages and trading co.s actually have very reasonable profits considering the tremendous risks they take. They do not buy the coffee for $1.00 a pound and sell it for $10.00. a pound as many fair trade screamers would have you believe. Specialty brokers deal in large lot shipments and while I don't know the exact percentages they charge I would guess it to be between %10 to %30 depending on various risk factors. In small micro roasting co.s such as Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. the expense of the bean is not the greatest expense of our product.

Businesses have many other cost associated with just opening their doors for business everyday. Electricity, gas, insurance, property taxes, local health departments, various certifications, business licenses, insurance, equipment maintenance, salaries,etc etc. All of these expenses have to be reflected in the price of the product before any profit can even be considered. We always joke with out customers that sometimes stay for 2-3 hours or more that the $3.00 is for the seat rental and the cup of coffee is our free service. The actual cost of the cup of coffee for even one of the highest grade premiums is only around 30 cents. The actual cost of %100 Jamaica Blue Mountain is around $3.00 and therefore we feel it justifies a price of around $5.00. The cheapest grades of coffee that large co.s like Starbucks and Peets blend some premium beans with to get the extreme profits they need for growth and world domination have an actual cost of 5 cents or even less with their mega direct buying powers. Co.s that charge $9.00 for a cup of coffee, no matter what type of high tech new aged coffee maker it's made in, should be ashamed of themselves Unless they are in a high rent location and the customers are paying for the space.

In any case Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. would like to thank everybody around the world that is considering and trying to help improve the dire and immediate situation of the poor and needy. Buying Mr. English Coffee does help because most of the worlds finest Aribica specialty beans are picked by the hands of the worlds poorest. Not drinking the coffee that they toil hour after hour picking doesn't help them. Buying and drinking their product does support them. If it happens to be a fair trade certified product then that's even better.

Mr. English Coffee Roasting co..

Mr. English Coffee Roasting co.-Japan

No comments:

Post a Comment