If you are an avid coffee drinker like me, then you may have heard of “Fair Trade” coffee before. But what is it? Does it matter where I buy my coffee? As a coffee connoisseur, I have found that I do care about where my coffee comes from, and so I decided to do a little research.
What is Fair Trade Coffee?
According to Wikipedia:
Fair trade coffee is coffee that is certified as having been produced and marketed to a stated set of standards. Many customers pay a higher price when buying coffee with the certification logo or brand in the belief that, by doing so, they are helping farmers in the Third World. In particular, the fair trade coffee movement gives a reasonable price to the farmers who were being a low-wage labor exploitation.
As one of the world’s largest crops, coffee has, at times, been a product that large corporations have mass produced without any concern for the farmers who actually do the work to produce it. Low wages, poor living conditions, and unfair purchasing policies have been in effect, and still are in some regions still today.
One of the reasons that I enjoy drinking Starbucks coffee is because they are nearly 100% Fair Trade, and by 2015, they plan to purchase only Fair Trade coffee.
How does this mistreatment occur?
Often, the small farmers who produce a great product live in remote areas and don’t have access to credit that would help them grow their operation. Buyers offering cash have been known to take advantage of these poor farmers by paying them cash, but at a fraction of the fair market value of their product.
So what can I do to buy more responsibly?
Look for the Fair Trade logo and take some time to educate yourself about the coffee that you purchase and drink. You’ll be glad you did!