Gathered around a small table in the corner of Olds' Cocoa Tree Bake Shoppe, they represented the complete journey of a coffee bean, from plantation to cup. Except in this case, all had reaped their fair share from the crop.
Janvier Dominguez and Griselda Jarquin are both Fairtrade-certified coffee producers from two different agricultural cooperatives: Dominguez from Peru and Jarquin from Nicaragua.
Last week they visited Olds, a Fairtrade-designated town, to see where beans like theirs end up.
Cocoa Tree Bake Shoppe was their first stop, where business owner Candice Klimek has been selling Fairtrade products since 2010.
Klimek said she first became interested in Fairtrade after attending an event in town, a movie about chocolate production that opened her eyes to the use of child labour and treatment of workers. Today, Cocoa Tree uses or sells Fairtrade coffee, cocoa, sugar, coconut and spices.
Production practices for Fairtrade goods must meet several criteria – no child or forced labour, living wages paid to workers, gender equity, environmentally-sustainable methods among others. The International Fairtrade Labeling Organization conducts random audits to ensure those standards are being met.
Speaking through a Spanish translator, Dominguez said he took steps to become a Fairtrade producer in order to improve the lives of his workers. Because they are paid a fair wage, workers have been able to provide higher education levels to their children, he said, adding that before, many would stop schooling after high school.
You do pay a premium for Fairtrade goods and producers are guaranteed a minimum price, but don't call it charity – it's paying their true cost, Dominguez said.
Also speaking in Spanish, Jarquin said the biggest change she's noticed since joining Fairtrade has been increased productivity by workers.
"That makes it worth every penny. It makes me so happy to hear that," Klimek said.
Jarquin and Dominguez came to Olds through Bev Toews, a member of the town's Fair Trade Olds Committee with connections to Fairtrade Canada.
Toews said Fairtrade Canada often invites producers into the country and she suggested a visit to Western Canada. After their stop at Cocoa Tree, they then went to Westview Co-op to speak with customers, followed by a lunch before heading to Calgary.
Because they are paid a fair wage, workers have been able to provide higher education levels to their children, he said, adding that before, many would stop schooling after high school.