Type the words ‘direct trade’ into Google, and you’ll be told that: ”Direct trade is a term used by coffee roasters who buy straight from the growers, cutting out both the traditional middlemen, and also the organizations that control certifications such as Fair Trade”. 

Obviously we sell tea instead of roasting coffee, but Google sums it up well. We do buy straight from producers, or rather our ‘tea partners’, as we refer to them. They make high quality whole leaf tea for you to enjoy (hopefully while reading this blog post).

Well, I could leave it at that, and you would have a pretty good idea about what it means for us to go direct (trade). Yet we all know there’s usually more to it than a simple explanation found on Google (no offense Google).

This is our colleague Mick eating tea and me trying not to look posed

So while sipping my XL-Chai at one of the hundreds of Javahouses (the Kenyan version of Starbucks), I wondered what direct trade actually means to our tea partners..

I have to admit, the answer both surprised and thrilled me, and was arguably equally, or more, important than what Google thinks about direct trade.

‘A human connection”, Mary, one of our partners, said.

That is what direct trade means to us. The fact that you come out here to see us (because yeh, I totally don’t like taking a break from the Dutch cold..) and we sit down together with a cup of tea to learn about the latest trends in the European market. The fact that you call us by first name, not by a number at the auction. That’s what makes our relationship special.”

Simple as that.

Well now, this certainly does not make us saints, nor overly unique, but it does make us human. And at the end of the day, human business tends to be good business.

>> Next week, more talk about why direct trade is only a means, not an end, and why it can be dangerous, too.

Stay tuned for #2 

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Co-founder of FRANK about tea. Valerie wants to show you the world behind your daily products.
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