Without farmers, there is no coffee. Yet most coffee growers live in dire poverty.
In January of 2013, two North American coffee roasters set out with a small film crew on a 1000 mile journey across Central America. On the way they met with soldiers who had become growers, women who now own their own farms, and countless communities using coffee as a tool to create social change.
These growers are forging new ways of working together – cooperatively farming their land and managing their businesses. And these co-ops are partnering with visionary coffee roasters and consumers in the North who believe in a fairer way of doing business.
Yet while Fair Trade and ethical consumerism continue to grow, this growth raises as many questions as it does answers. To truly understand the subject, we must look at the historical injustices of global politics and international trade.
Our journey will serve as the launching point for a wide-ranging discussion, including:
An Examination of our Coffee Culture
The Lives of Coffee Farmers
The Extraordinary Process of Making Coffee
The Troubled History of Latin America
The Future of Fair Trade
And we’ll explore all this in the context of the broader movement for social justice that includes the struggles for Indigenous Rights, Campesino Rights, Agrarian Reform, Women’s Empowerment, Food Sovereignty and Community Resilience.
We’ll also hear the voices of Fair Trade’s pioneers and experts who will discuss the ideals of the movement, the serious challenges it faces and their dreams for the future.
Along the way, we’ll ask some of the toughest questions that the movement faces:
Can a label on a product ensure justice?
Is Fair Trade compatible with big business?
Are cooperatives the only just way to protect farmers’ rights?
Is Fair Trade even fair?
We don’t have all the answers. But we do have something important to contribute – something that is all too often forgotten – and that’s the voices of the coffee farmers themselves. This film will give a voice to the farmers and show the world that everyone who drinks coffee is connected in a very real way to those who grow it.
We aim to create an important film with a wide reach that will help shape not just how we think about coffee – but also how we reconcile the concept of economic trade with universal values of compassion, decency, fairness and justice.
Our distribution goal is to begin with film festivals, and then work to spread the film as far and wide as possible through screenings by theaters, universities, libraries, coffee shops, religious institutions, fair trade organizations and others. The film will also be available to watch online, through iTunes, Netflix, and other outlets.
UPDATE! Connected By Coffee will be donating 5% of all proceeds directly to the 4 coffee cooperatives featured in this film towards Roya relief, with specific projects focused on re-planting, organic fertilization or intensive organic training programs, food security garden projects or other initiatives to generate additional family income during a time of crop loss due to the disease “La Roya”:
a fungus that causes significant damage to coffee plants. It strips them of their leaves, leaving them without nutrients, and ultimately inhibits them from bearing fruit.