For most of us, a cup of coffee is nothing more than a pleasant and pretty much necessary start to our day. Coffee, shower, breakfast and out the door.
But for the lovely guys and gals (and office dog) at Just Coffee in Madison, and the hundreds of coffee farmers they work with around the world, a cup of coffee is so much more. Just Coffee is a one hundred percent Fair Trade coffee roaster and all its beans have a huge impact on the small-scale farmers who receive fair and decent wages for their work and on the world of Fair Trade in general.
“Some companies do 5%, 25%, or 50% of their coffee using Fair Trade criteria,” say the folks at Just Coffee. “While any fair trade is great, we don’t know how you can commit to doing the right thing by some growers and not others. It winds up being charity as opposed to economic justice.”
Building on the idea of doing all things the right way, Just Coffee makes most local deliveries with a sweet three-wheeled bike and has just invested in a biodiesel truck for long distance treks. We’re out of bike range here in Milwaukee, but you can find their beans at all three Outpost locations. (Sorry, you’d have to head to Madison if you want your coffee delivered by a friendly, most likely bearded biker.)
Just Coffee’s steadfast dedication to being a truly democratic and Fair Trade cooperative (I forgot to mention that JC is an employee-owned co-op but that seems pretty obvious) leads to what it calls the Transparency Project. With literally two mouse clicks, you and I are able to see every financial statement in the co-op’s history as well as all its contracts with all of Just Coffee’s growers. Maybe not be the most thrilling topic to think about, but really, it’s quite an amazing concept.
Matt Earley, one of Just Coffee’s co-founders and bona fide Kentucky Colonel (really!) says, “we want you to do your own homework. Not just with regard to your coffee, but in all of the things you buy. Look at what we do, think about it, and then judge for yourself whether it meets your standards. Don't let other people tell you what is fair. In the end it puts another layer between you and the people that make and grow the things that you use in your daily life.” You can even track where your very own beans came from with the roast number on the bottom of every bag. Cool, right?
We’re not talking about just coffee here, we’re talking JUST coffee - in the sense of truth, fairness, dignity and equality. And hot damn, it’s crazy delicious to boot. You’re practically guaranteed to wake up on the right side of the bed.