Who doesn’t love free coffee, especially if it’s sourced fairly from small farmers? Throughout the month of February, Chick-fil-A is giving away farmer-direct, free coffee every morning at participating locations. No purchase is necessary, but it’s limited to one cup of hot or iced-coffee per customer, per visit.

Chick-fil-a is working with THRIVE, an organization that partners with coffee farmers directly. Farmers are able to by-pass commodity pricing when they sell directly to THRIVE and can receive as much as 10 times more for their beans.

Chick-fil-A doesn’t always do things that make people cheer. The company’s president, Dan Cathy, is not a supporter of marriage equality and the company donates money to groups that oppose gay rights. Chick-fil-A also looked like a big bully when it sent a cease and desist letter to a small Vermont artist, telling him to stop producing T-shirts that said “Eat More Kale” because the slogan was too similar to the company's already trademarked “Eat Mor Chickn.”

But with this coffee initiative, the company is making a difference. When I read about it, I was reminded of my trip a few years ago to coffee farms in Guatemala when I saw the far-reaching benefits that small farmers, their families and their communities gain when they receive a fair price for their beans.

Through THRIVE’s direct-farmer model, beans are hand-planted and hand-picked by farmers. The farmers are given the resources to mill and dry their own beans so they don’t have to send them to a third party. They then sell directly to THRIVE and earn up to 10 times more for their beans than if they had sold them through a middleman. 

The coffee is rated specialty-grade. Only 10 percent of coffee in the world receives that rating. One of the good things about specialty-grade coffee is that it's shade grown, which is a more sustainable method for growing beans. Chick-fil-A's website says the coffee has "creamy notes of caramel and cocoa with a light citrus finish." 

I haven't had the farmer-direct coffee from Chick-fil-A yet, but if I'm driving by I may stop and give it a try. If you've had a cup, let us know what you thought of it. 

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

That coffee Chick-fil-A is giving away all February? Small farmers in Central America were paid fairly for it
The chicken chain is working with THRIVE to purchase coffee from farmers who can by-pass the middleman and get paid up to 10x more for their beans.