I had the pleasure last week of hanging out with the folks at DOMA Coffee Roasting Company in Coeur d' Alene/Post Falls. Our experiment of eating locally for a year opened up to us the world of Spokane area coffee roasters. Before I go on, let me just say that there is no reason for anyone who lives in Spokane to buy coffee beans that aren't locally roasted. There are plenty of local roasters to choose from and DOMA is right up there with the best of them.
I was most intrigued to hear about their coffee buying co-op. They have taken relationship coffee and fair trade to the next level and joined a co-op that makes long term commitments to growers and villages. You can actually go and track the various lots of coffee they have purchased through the co-op by viewing the original shipping documents. Considering that coffee beans are the world's largest food commodity it is impressive to have that kind of access to the source. Commodity food systems thrive off the lack of source information. I wish I could fair trade proof everything I buy.
One comment they made is that other fair trade purchasers, outside co-ops, rarely hear feedback from growers about problems in the grower/buyer relationship. By contrast, there is plenty of healthy back and forth in the co-op. Because of the long term commitments to growers and villages facilitated by the co-op, the farmers have the freedom to advocate for their interests. Growers without that kind of security and partnership are afraid to speak up lest they lose out.
Again, I wish that I could have this kind of assurance with everything I buy. Committed relationships between consumers and producers is a key to ensuring justice, fairness and sustainability along the supply chain. DOMA is doing their part to strengthen these relationships. When you buy DOMA you're buying the coffee beans and the relationships that come with them. Maybe that's a good way to think about everything we buy. It's not just the price tag and the brand name but all the relationships along the supply chain that brought that item to market.
And by the way, did I mention that their coffee is awesome.
DOMA coffee beans are available at these retail locations: