About Cave Bird Coffee
Cave Bird Coffee is a unique coffee company. Cave Bird Coffee purchases green beans from Uganda at better–than–Fair–Trade prices, with 100% of the proceeds returning to the farmer and village. This is a unique model of doing business. Usually "Fair Trade" does not necessarily mean that the farmer gets the full price, only that certain conditions are met in price, payment, and other conditions throughout the process. In the Cave Bird model, the donated proceeds finance the building of water wells in the farming villages.
Presently, we purchase coffee from two different farms in Uganda. In addition to the green bean purchase, retail sales return 100% of proceeds to build clean water wells in Africa through our non-profit Cave Bird Cup of Life. This combined function is the better–than–Fair–Trade initiative of Cave Bird Coffee. (See Cup of Life page.)
In this same giving–back manner, coffee from areas other than Uganda are purchased at industry prices with the retail sale proceeds donated to charity.
Origins of Cave Bird Coffee
In 2007, Cave Bird Coffee owner Glen Shorley attended a retreat where he met the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda. Glen shared his hope of beginning a coffee business that supported people in areas that were struggling. Uganda was rich in coffee and the small farms needed buyers to sustain the farming efforts.
Out of that conversation Cave Bird Coffee was born. Following Glen's trips to Africa and Central America the concept became a reality. Looking to further the impact, he decided that all profits would be used to help with clean water projects. Cave Bird Cup of Life was formed to facilitate the next phase of operation. Thorugh this related non-profit organization, one hundred percent of the profits from all coffee sales are given to a water-well building group, which takes no salaries in their well building operation. Today we build wells that save lives in areas that had only an open water source or none at all. (See church newsletter excerpt in materials below.)
Direct Involvement with the Farmers
As the Cave Bird Coffee owner, Glen travels to the Ugandan farms to work during harvest time and to maintain a relationship with the farmers. These are not commercial farms, but small isolated fields in Uganda, where the village economy depends on the proceeds from coffee. The field workers arrive before 7 a.m. to begin work. This usually entails a seven kilometer walk to and from the farm.
The coffee is shade-grown in the Ugandan savannah and all work is done by hand. After picking the coffee cherries, workers carry them back to a sorting station where they are weighed, washed and sorted, placed on drying racks, and sorted again. After a few days on the racks, the cherries are then placed on concrete pads for further drying. Before being hulled, the beans are sorted again before shipping. This is a labor intensive operation, but provides work other than ditch digging for the workers. Both men and women work the farm and are thankful and proud to be gainfully employed in an area that offers little opportunity.