Every year I wish that fair trade fortnight could be the last because we have made all trade fair.
Capitalism is very good at hiding the unequal human relationships that mar the exchange of goods and services behind the abstraction of the market.
So fair trade is a small step in making those relationships real. This year we have been asked by the Fairtrade foundation to "go further for fair trade."
And there is one co-operative that seems to be doing just that.
For the last 30 years Paul Birch has been better known as a record producer and MD of a record label.
In that time he has released over 1,000 albums by artists as diverse as the Stone Roses and UFO, from the Scorpions to Sister Sledge.
He caught the fair-trade bug when he started developing a line in merchandising for many of the bands he promoted.
Birch says that it took a while to tick all the ethical boxes - finding his way through the process of getting T-shirts with fair-trade and organic accreditation was a steep learning curve.
Having built up a supply chain and created relationships with the producers it seemed like a good idea to put all the marketing skills they had developed in 30 years in the music business into selling fair-trade products.
The idea of a co-operative structure linking producers and consumers became the obvious vehicle. Today Revolver Co-operative Limited is the trading co-operative company behind the Revolver World brand.
Organised as an industrial and provident society, it is a bona fide co-operative, formed with the help of the Co-operative Group (through the Co-operative Hub) and Co-operatives UK.
But unusually Revolver Co-op incorporates the whole supply chain in the ownership of the business. As a multi-stakeholder community co-operative, membership is open to all - producer co-operatives in the developing world, retailers such as the Co-op's in which it sells the products and the final customers.
What's more 25 per cent of the profit is invested back into the producers' communities.
It prefers to trade with co-operatives because it says this strengthens the relationships between consumers and producers. In a very short time it has built up a great range of coffees as well as a wide range of fair-trade organic clothing.
I have to make an admission at this point. Despite the fact that I come from a family of tea bellies, I hate tea. I just can't drink it.
I am a total coffee head. And one of the most depressing features of modern life is that despite the fact coffee shops have become ubiquitous in Britain most of what they sell is not very good.
So I drink most of my coffee at home and I like to try out coffees from around the world. I've become a bit of a coffee snob.
So to discover Revolver's coffee range was a delight. Its African coffee is grown by the co-operatives Kagera Coffee Union in Tanzania and Gumutindo Coffee Co-operative in Uganda.
This superb blend combines Tanzanian peaberry, grown on the upper slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, and Ugandan high-grown northern Bugisu, grown under shade not far from the Uganda-Kenya border.
Its Colombian coffee is a single-estate blend grown by the Riseralda Co-operative, established in 1959, using Fairtrade-certified Arabica beans, and its Costa Rica coffee comes from members of the Co-opedota coffee growers' co-operative who produce a terrific AA Grade Tarrazu Arabica coffee.
Revolver's most recent venture however is probably of most interest to Morning Star readers.
Birch says: "Cuban coffee is one of the most underrated coffees we've come across recently. Not only is it delicious, its quality rivals that of the established 'standard' coffees like Colombia. Not a word of a lie - when we received our first cupping samples in the office it's all we drank for two weeks straight!"
There is no doubt that the latest product is a bit special - exclusively imported Cuba Altura coffee sourced from one of the oldest grower co-operatives in Cuba.
Paul adds that "at the moment given the somewhat unique commercial situation in Cuba it's not possible to get Fairtrade accreditation, but nonetheless we're delighted to have this co-operatively produced Arabica in both whole bean and roast & ground. Try it - it may well become one of your favourites. It makes great espressos."
Given that fairness is the whole basis of the Cuban economy you can do your bit and get great coffee and support the Cuban revolution by breaking the embargo everyday!
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