In the system that Thrive is trying to develop, farmers are paid only after their coffee has been exported, packaged and sold — at a much higher price — to retailers. If coffee is sold for, say, $7.25 a pound, Thrive splits the proceeds 50-50 with the farmers, who end up, in that example, with about $3.60 a pound.
The farmers working with Thrive must pay the higher costs of processing and exporting, but Mr. [Ken] Lander says they net about four times as much as they would through fair trade, once production costs and co-op fees are factored in. And Thrive helps farmers by establishing relationships for the farmers with local coffee processing mills and co-ops. Then, once the beans are shipped to the United States, Thrive takes over, handling packaging, roasting and sales. In some cases, Thrive sells green coffee beans to roasters, in which case the farmer receives 75 percent of the proceeds.
“We’re teaching a farmer that you don’t have to relinquish control of your coffee,” Mr. Lander said. “You can see it all the way through the value chain.”