An Anti-Oppressive Approach to Coffee Value Streams

Livestream takes place at 2PM on Monday June 29th. Can't make it? Registration will get you a link to watch the course after the livestream is complete. 


The global coffee supply system has been fundamentally tilted towards those in coffee consuming countries since its inception. Indeed, the Dutch and other European colonies aimed to shift the entire agricultural production of certain countries to production of coffee for the benefit of their own elites. As states gained their independence, often practices of slavery become prevalent, thereby setting the basis for the development of the global coffee market as we now know it. This system may seem old, but was actively in place only one hundred years ago. 


Specialty coffee emerged with an aim to social justice, but even amongst the founding firms of specialty, any social or economic benefit was often assumed rather than guaranteed or work towards. As a result, the system as it exists today contains many of the same structural biases that allow for those in the Global North to hold incredible power over those who produce the coffee in the Global South. 


Through years working as a roaster and green buyer, I have seen the ways the systemic racism, neo-colonialism and white privilege have played out within specialty coffee, despite narratives to the otherwise. 


This course is aimed to share with you some of the premises of Semilla’s sourcing approach which is based around advocating, platforming, centering, and assisting those in producing countries to achieve entrance into a market that holds them back for often arbitrary reasons. A brief history of specialty coffee sourcing will be discussed, followed up a consideration of key concepts such as Risk, Quality, and Relationships that can be used to fundamentally alter how we approach supply. 


As part of Semilla’s mandate to be more than a coffee importer, 45% of all of the proceeds from these courses will go to local anti-racist, black, or indigenous organizations and 45% will go to fund Semilla’s collaborative projects in Honduras, Guatemala, or Rwanda. The other 10% will be retained by Brendan Adams, to coffee costs of preparation, research, and labour. 


Note: This is NOT a course on Green Buying. There will be no discussion of sourcing logistics, but rather an approach to a theoretical understanding of a new horizon for coffee supply. 


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