Do you love coffee? Do you have a nice, hot cup of coffee every morning, afternoon, and night? If you love to drink coffee, you may want to consider switching to fair trade coffee.
To learn more about fair trade coffee, continue reading this article. Throughout the article we will discuss what fair trade coffee is, as well as why it would be beneficial for you to switch to it.
Let’s start with a simple question.
What is Fair Trade Coffee?
Fair trade coffee is, as the name states, a type of coffee that is purchased directly from the growers. Becoming increasingly popular over the last few years, fair trade coffee is now offered in most stores and coffee shops. While it is generally more expensive than regular coffees, fair trade coffee is well worth the additional cost.
In 1645, the first coffee shop was opened in Europe. It was in Venice, Italy, and already coffee was known in other parts of the world as a bitter, yet strangely delicious beverage. Coffee houses would grow in popularity and were known as a gathering place for artists and progressive thinkers. Coffee drinking and the very profitable coffee growing industry spread across the globe. Although coffee has been a popular drink for centuries, consumers today are focused on more than just the taste of their morning beverage.
Fair Trade Coffee is a certification process that seeks to help farmers and growers in Third World countries. When a consumer buys a product (in this case coffee) that has the “Fair Trade Certified” label, he or she is buying products that have been reviewed by Fair Trade USA and meets their standards. The most well known goal of Fair Trade is the appropriate remuneration of farmers, in contrast to some large companies who seek to take advantage of Third World small producers. These Fair Trade specifications apply to growing practices, labor standards, environmental impact, impact on the growers’ community, and business practices. According to Fair Trade USA, the Fair Trade certification is helping Third World farmers across the globe, especially in South America, Africa, and Asia.
Fair Trade products can be, but are not automatically certified organic. Fair Trade USA is interested in environmentally friendly practices; they seek to certify farmers and growing groups that protect resources, responsibly dispose of waste, and strictly ban the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The Fair Trade label can only apply to products and does not apply to retailers. For more information on Fair Trade certification in the United States, see their website Fair Trade USA.Before Fair Trade, there was the International Inter-American Coffee Agreement, which had been formed during World War II. Due to the global war effort, large numbers of coffee suppliers were unable to participate in the market, and the United States was trying to manage the remaining producers. In 1963, the United Nations collaborated with the newly formed International Coffee Organization (ICO) to promote cooperation and efficiency between nations that produced and processed coffee beans. They put forth the International Coffee Agreement, which helps countries regulate the coffee industry, especially in the area of imports and exports. The ICO still exists today and the International Coffee Council meets twice a year.
Before Fair Trade, there was the International Inter-American Coffee Agreement, which had been formed during World War II. Due to the global war effort, large numbers of coffee suppliers were unable to participate in the market, and the United States was trying to manage the remaining producers. In 1963, the United Nations collaborated with the newly formed International Coffee Organization (ICO) to promote cooperation and efficiency between nations that produced and processed coffee beans. They put forth the International Coffee Agreement, which helps countries regulate the coffee industry, especially in the area of imports and exports. The ICO still exists today and the International Coffee Council meets twice a year.
Currently, the Fair Trade certification exists not only for coffee, but for many different types of food products like nuts, flowers, oils, sugars, wine, and grains. Fair Trade also certifies some apparel and cloth items such as linens and towels. In addition, some processed products such as beverages and beauty items are made with Fair Trade ingredients or elements and carry the Fair Trade label. Fair Trade does not currently certify handicrafts like jewelry and artwork.
Fair trade coffee can be bought prepared at many coffee shops– large national chains and smaller, locally owned, establishments. Fair Trade ground coffee and coffee beans can be purchased at natural food stores, grocery stores, and gourmet food shops.
Why should you switch from regular coffee to fair trade coffee?
America consumes over 1/5 of all coffee, making it the largest coffee consumer in the world. What many Americans do not realize, however, is that agricultural workers, who work to produce coffee, work in absolutely deplorable conditions. Many people even equate the work of coffee producers to the work that goes on in third world sweatshops. Many coffee farmers pay more in production fees than they receive for the coffee that they make, forcing them into a life filled with poverty.
The solution? Fair trade coffee. Fair trade coffee helps to ensure coffee drinkers that the coffee they are consuming was purchased in fair conditions. What are these conditions? In today’s world, regular coffee prices can be as low as 60 to 70 cents per pound. If a coffee is to become fair trade certified, however, the purchaser must pay the coffee farmer a minimum of $1.26 per pound. Not only does fair trade coffee prevent coffee farmers from falling deeply into debt, but it also allows farmers to put more into their coffee, giving us a fresher taste and a healthier, more organic bean. Fair trade coffee does not, however, only benefit the farmers. It also benefits the community. Fair trade coffee also means community development, better education, and more efficient health care.
So, fair trade coffee is great for society, but
What does it offer to the consumer?
As said previously, fair trade coffee ensures that a coffee farmer is getting paid at least $1.26 per pound. Because these farmers are being paid well and are making a profit, they are able to put more into the coffee that they make. Simply put, fair trade coffee farmers are more likely to have the financial means to improve the quality of their product. And, as well all know, improved quality results in improved taste!
The next time you go to order regular coffee, think about all of the poverty that it causes for society, and switch your order to fair trade. You may pay a little more, but you will be doing a great deed for society, and enjoying a better tasting cup of coffee for yourself!