The coffee industry’s public relations have quite regularly struggled with the mysterious nature of their product’s origins, as baffled Westerners have been left to idly debate the virtues of fair trade, free trade, and unfair and not very free trade.
“Oh, you mean my free coffee is going to cost five dollars?”
“How much is the fair coffee, then?”
Lucky for us, several new startups have committed to bridging the gap between those idle conversations and reality.
“I’ll take my coffee blockchain, thanks.”
Fairchain Farming recently launched “Blockchain Coffee,” a fully traceable coffee on blockchain. The Amsterdam startup is aiming to propel itself ‘beyond certification’ by using the technology to provide customers with full disclosure on their bean’s journey from the plantation to the pallet.
Another startup based in Denver, Bext360, has been working on revolutionising the transparency of the coffee supply chain for over a year now. Bext360 has a smart strategy based on rewarding coffee producers with better quality crops and practices rather than rewarding those who manage to churn out the most ludicrous quantity of beans. The startup ultimately hopes to incentivise better farming practices and higher quality products across the board.
The cryptocurrency community’s reaction to blockchain coffee was one of cynicism verging on incredulity. Many were quick to point out the scheme’s fatal flaw, in that the company relies on a third-party to input the bean travel data correctly, which goes against the core objective of blockchain technology – decentralisation.
The Marxists among us would probably applaud Fairchain Farming’s efforts if it were not for the raw moneymaking potential of the concept. The model is an admirable attempt to deconstruct what has become a typical consumerist behavior of our time, described by Karl as a disregard to a good’s unknown origins and the conditions under which it was produced.
However, this behaviour has been changing as issues concerning conditions of labour and transport costs have come to light, making awareness rise and criteria such as “Fair Trade” come into play. It is safe to say that we all look forward to buying a bag of blockchain coffee and finding out in exactly which plantation, and under what conditions, the beans were picked. Also, it will be a bonus to be able to support our favourite plantations, along with our favourite roaster or intermediary.
There are a couple of blockchain platforms doing even more intense work in the area of liberating Western consumption from mystery. Chainlink and Ambrosus are concentrating their work incorporating tracking devices into goods so buyers can research and discover their supply chain.