Article: Black Gold: A Fair Trade Film

Written by Cafe Campesino on Nov 1, 2006 in Article, NEWSLETTER |

Five years ago, we met Tadesse Meskela at a Specialty Coffee Association conference where he was searching for clients to purchase green coffee directly from the Oromia Coffee Union — a farmer collective that he manages. His efforts resulted in our coop, Cooperative Coffees, purchasing one of the first containers that was sold directly by farmers in Ethiopia. Since then, we have developed a strong working relationship with Tadesse and the Oromia cooperative. Their story is now chronicled in an award-winning documentary called Black Gold that is currently showing throughout the United States.

Multinational coffee companies now rule the supermarket shelves and dominate an industry that generates over $80 billion in revenue each year, making coffee the most valuable trading commodity in the world after oil.

But while we continue to pay for our lattes and cappuccinos, the price paid to coffee farmers remains so low that many have been forced to abandon their coffee fields.

Nowhere is this paradox more evident than in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. Tadesse Meskela is one man on a mission to help his 74,000 struggling coffee farmers lift themselves out of poverty. As his farmers strive to harvest some of the highest quality coffee beans on the international market, Tadesse travels the world in an attempt to find buyers willing to pay a fair price.

Against the backdrop of Tadesse’s journey to London and Seattle, the enormous power of the multinational players that dominate the world’s coffee trade becomes apparent. New York commodity traders, the international coffee exchanges, and the double dealings of trade ministers at the World Trade Organisation reveal the many challenges Tadesse faces in his quest for a long term solution for his farmers.

To see where Black Gold is being shown, visit:

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