Coffee co-ops: Taylors of Harrogate and Equal Exchange

Two of the most popular coffees in our blind taste test came from Taylors of Harrogate and Equal Exchange. We looked a little closer at these two UK coffee...

Two of the most popular coffees in our blind taste test came from Taylors of Harrogate and Equal Exchange. We looked a little closer at these two UK coffee co-ops.

Esperanza_BB_HR for webTaylors of Harrogate: Esperanza 

Esperanza coffee comes from Pangoa, a Fairtrade co-operative in San Martín de Pangoa, Peru. Named after Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, the manager of the co-op, the limited edition coffee is available through Taylors of Harrogate.

Pangoa was set up in 1977 by 50 farmers from the Satipo region. After founding the co-op, they allocated 3% of every sale for internal investments, helping to develop a lot of the infrastructure still in place today.

At its peak Pangoa had 1,700 members. The co-operative went through turbulent times in the 1980s due to political instability in the region, losing hundreds of members who moved to urban areas to escape violence. It currently includes 700 smallholder farmers that get paid above the Fairtrade minimum price for coffee.

Esperanza Dionisio Castillo
Esperanza Dionisio Castillo

Pangoa received the Fairtrade certification in 2001 and obtained first organic certification in 2002. Since then it has been exporting its coffee to European markets.

The Fairtrade premium that Pangoa receives helps fund the co-operative’s Women’s Development Committee. Through the committee, the co-op manages a fund for women’s health, which female members can tap into to pay for expensive tests and health checks. Pangoa has an educational fund as well, which allows members to borrow up to USD $2,000 to pay for their children’s university fees. They also get to take part in training courses of up to four months on co-operatives, financial management and administration.

A Yorkshire-based family business, Taylors of Harrogate started working with Pangoa in 2009. Esperanza coffee will be available until March 2016.

equal exchange - most popularEqual Exchange: Dark City Roast

Equal Exchange is a worker co-operative based in Edinburgh. As well as coffee, it offers a range of teas (including rooibos tea), sugar, cashew nuts, honey and nut butter.

Equal Exchange’s roots stretch back to the early 1980s, when voluntary workers returned to Edinburgh after time spent away working on aid projects in various parts of Africa. Teaming up with Campaign Co-op in London, Campaign Coffee was born.

The coffee crisis of the time saw the International Coffee Agreement collapse and the dissolving of imposed quotas and fixed prices. Coffee prices plummeted and small- scale coffee producers suffered. The farmers were getting extremely low prices for their crops, and rather than aid, the co-op saw fairer trading as a way of helping redress the balance.

In 1991 – rebranded as Equal Exchange – it launched Cafédirect together with Oxfam, Traidcraft and Twin Trading. By 1998 they were offering the first honey product to carry the Fairtrade mark, and in 2007 co-founded Liberation Foods – the UK’s first and only 100% Fairtrade nut company.

Still a worker co-op consisting of three members, most of their coffee comes from producers in Peru, with single-origin coffffees coming from Uganda, Colombia, Ethiopia and Sumatra. In 2011, Equal Exchange also launched a Grown by Women range, recognising the influence of women on the coffee-growing process.

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