On a Sunday morning, 15 May 2016, an unruly group of coffee drinkers gathered at Phoenecia Mediterranean Food Hall café in Kentish Town, over a Fairtrade cup of coffee, for the start of Camden’s Great Fairtrade Coffee Caper, a Fairtrade coffee crawl through Camden borough.
The event was organised by Camden Fairtrade Network (CFN) to take part in the World Fairtrade Challenge, a Fairtrade International initiative aiming to get as many Fairtrade cups of coffee drank over 3 days (13-15 May) as possible, to help small-holder coffee farmers protect their livelihoods and fight climate change.
The idea was to use this event to find out which cafes in the borough sold Fairtrade coffee, support those that did, and ask those that didn’t serve it to do so, highlighting consumer demand for Fairtrade and the difference it made to coffee farmers and communities.
CFN put together a route, using Google My Map, with input from Camden Tour Guides Association member, Valeria Bellazzi – who volunteered her time and expertise.
The route was limited to certain parts of the borough** to make it manageable within four hours, and allow for optional de-tours.
A meeting place was chosen that was easy to get to and offered Fairtrade coffee*.
Cafes on route serving Fairtrade coffee were rewarded with patronage and window stickers, and those that didn’t were given leaflets about Fairtrade and spoken to about switching.
10 people participated in the Fairtrade coffee crawl, either in part or for all of it.
Over 4 hours, 16 cafes were visited, and 19 cups of Fairtrade coffee drank, in the 4 cafes serving it.
The 4 cafes serving Fairtrade coffee were Phoenicia which offers a Fairtrade option, Campbell’s Canal Cafe serving Fairtrade wherever possible, Mildreds serving triple certified (organic, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance) coffee and the ATM kiosk at Euston Station.
The number of cafes serving Fairtrade coffee and level of understanding of Fairtrade was surprising low.
Some managers and serving staff were more open than others to discussing Fairtrade, and showed interest in following up. Others cited existing sponsorship packages in place, or showed a lack of interest in Fairtrade.
Other places in the borough that serve Fairtrade coffee but which were not included in the route are Camden Council’s cafe at 5 Pancras Square (Kings Cross), Quaker Centre Cafe, Fairly Square, Pret a Manger, Soho Coffee Company, Eat, Greggs, and Leon.
Buna Oromia will soon be opening a café and distribution point at 154 Royal College Street, Kentish Town, selling Fairtrade Organic Ethiopian coffee.
Through this event, CFN have engaged new people, started mapping Fairtrade coffee spots in Camden borough, and got some discussions going with local cafes about switching to Fairtrade.
The group are to discuss what next. There is potential for follow ups with cafes visited, organising similar events in other areas of the borough, and putting together a more comprehensive map of Fairtrade coffee spots.
Hopefully others across the capital, the country, and the globe can be inspired to do their own Fairtrade coffee crawls.
Our next meeting is on 6.30pm, 12 July, at Voluntary Action Camden.
If you would like to tell us about a café in Camden serving Fairtrade coffee, or get in touch about something else, drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.
Camden Fairtrade Network
*This presented an opportunity to get a café to offer Fairtrade to its customers; the envisaged meeting place, Phoenecia, sold Fairtrade coffee in its shop but not its café. When approached in advance, the manager agreed to offer Fairtrade coffee in its café and advertise the option to customers.
** Parts of Kentish Town, Chalk Farm, Camden Town and Euston.