Guest Blog: Fair Trade Means Better Lives, But Can It Also Mean Better Coffee?

October is a busy month. From supporting great causes, like breast cancer research and awareness, to celebrating the fun of Halloween. October is also Fair Trade Month!

At Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen, we have a commitment to provide you with the best quality coffee and your favorite coffee flavors. We also are committed to sourcing our coffee from respectable sources that promote the sustainability of the coffee industry. Often times, quality and sustainability go hand-in-hand.

This is why we align ourselves with organizations like Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit that ensures farmers and workers in developing countries are justly compensated.

Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen is proud to offer several Fair Trade USA Certified coffees, including Honduras Las Capucas and our Global Blend. We also offer Fair Trade jewelry and gifts on our website.

Because October is Fair Trade Month, I thought it would be the perfect time to share this blog from our friends at Fair Trade USA. This blog answers the question: Can Fair Trade also mean better coffee?

Click here to view the original blog in its entirety.

Anne Valdez



Fair Trade Means Better Lives, But Can It Also Mean Better Coffee?

At its core Fair Trade is about sustainability, in every sense of the word. Social sustainability. Environmental sustainability. Economic sustainability. As such, the Fair Trade Certified label has become an international symbol of responsible farming practices, as well as a reflection of brand and consumer values. It is this distinction, of Fair Trade as a mission-driven certification, which has led some to question whether it can be anything else. They wonder – can a cup of coffee that does good also taste good?

The answer is: absolutely. Exceptional coffee and sustainability can (and must) go hand-in-hand. 

Though Fair Trade is not a certification of quality, it has become an important vehicle for improving quality and enabling farmers to produce some of the best beans on the market. In fact, nearly all Fair Trade Certified coffee today qualifies as specialty grade, further proving that good taste and good practices are not mutually exclusive – they’re integrally linked.

Better Income, Better Coffee:

According to the United Nations, there are over two billion people living on less than two dollars a day, 65% of whom work in agriculture. The reality is that coffee farmers are poor and getting poorer. In late 2013, for example, coffee prices plummeted to some of the lowest levels in a decade. With prices hovering around $1 per pound, the majority of coffee farmers who supply our morning joe were making less than half of what they made just a few years ago. 

Through Fair Trade, the only certification with a guaranteed minimum price to protect against low markets, farmers are able to meet their immediate needs and find the stability required to make important investments in quality.

  • The Fair Trade Minimum Price: This is a promise between producers and buyers that a minimum amount will always be paid for their beans—creating stability for farmers, and a strong reliable supply for businesses. Remember this is a floor, not a ceiling, and Fair Trade farmers can, and do, negotiate higher prices based on quality. This price also serves as collateral to anchor lending to cooperatives, helping them access much-needed pre-harvest and long-term financing.
  • Community Development Premiums: In Fair Trade growers also earn a premium of $0.20/lb. for community investment, and an additional $0.30 if the coffee is also organic. Of this additional income, 25% is designated for investment in quality and productivity, though many producers vote to spend significantly more in this area.

Take the case of Jose Isidro Lara, a Fair Trade farmer in Honduras. With the help of Fair Trade prices and premiums, Jose was able to build his own personal wet mill, and a solar drying area to achieve greater consistency in his coffee. He’s been working hard to improve quality over time, and now earns double, sometimes triple, the market price for his exceptional beans.

Securing the Future of Quality Coffee:

As it turns out, you don’t have to choose between good taste and good practices. Fair Trade has come a long way in the last 50+ years, and with it, a growing number of farmers, traders, roasters, retailers and consumers who understand that investing in people is critical way to secure the future of quality coffee. It really is something you can feel good about.

Coffee Fair Trade Certified Coffee Fair Trade Month Fair Trade USA Global Blend Guest Blog Honduras Las Capucas

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