Today, on National Coffee Day, we begin the celebration of Fair Trade Month, which officially starts on October 1st! Whether you're a latte lover, cold brew fanatic, or you take yours straight without cream or sugar, how often do you stop and wonder about the larger impact of the coffee in your cup?
When you choose to purchase Fair Trade certified coffee—to either brew at home or pick up at your favorite coffee shop—you're not just jump-starting your day with caffeine, you're helping to support better lives and a healthier world. Here's how...
#1 Coffee is where it all began.
Back in the late 1980s, the first agricultural product to be formally traded fairly was coffee. Even though the overall percentage is relatively small compared to conventional beans, the consumption of certified Fair Trade coffee has continued to grow. In 2012, over 163 million pounds of Fair Trade coffee was imported into the U.S. and Canada. A recent study showed not only an increase in the number of people in the U.S. who drink coffee, but a spike in the sales of gourmet and premium blends. People really do care about their coffee!
#2 Transparent and long-term relationships benefit farmers and producers.
We care about the people who provide our coffee too! One foundation of Fair Trade is a commitment to creating and sustaining economic opportunities for people in chronically impoverished areas of the world and to ensure equality and dignity. Transparency in the Fair Trade coffee industry means making sure that farmers and producers are working freely (no child labor) and safely, treated with respect, and that they have a voice in receiving fair pay.
For example: Level Ground Ethiopian blend coffee comes from the Fero Co-op of the Sidama Coffee Farmers' Union, which consists of around 3000 member farmers, and was founded in 2001. The co-op provides washing stations and buying posts where coffee cherries can be processed before heading out to roasters. Growing coffee is the primary income source for the people of Yrgalem.
#3 Grown in the shade is good for the Earth and all creatures.
Not all Fair Trade coffee is organic and shade grown, but much of it is. In order to be certified Fair Trade, coffee must be grown and processed in environmentally sustainable ways. While there are different requirements depending on certifier, in order for coffee to be considered Fair Trade, farmers and producers must avoid chemical pesticides and fertilizers and use effective soil and shade conservation techniques.
For Just Haiti coffee, being good for the Earth and all creatures means that coffee is shade grown under the canopy of large tropical trees without the use of pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Deforestation and soil erosion are big problems in Haiti (as in other countries) and shade grown coffee is part of the solution which helps farmers, trees, and forest wildlife to thrive. The Just Haiti organization even supports local tree-planting!
#4 Fair Trade coffee TASTES better!
Do you prefer coffee with an aftertaste that's metallic or slightly chemical or one that goes down smooth with hints of floral and berry? We can guess your answer! Fair Trade coffee is available in medium and dark roasts with a variety of naturally-occurring flavors. This rich diversity comes from the careful attention farmers give to soil and water composition, cultivation, and to the processing methods used as well.
In honor of Fair Trade month, we challenge you to make the switch to Fair Trade coffee for October. It's more accessible and affordable than you might think AND, best of all, it's gentle on the Earth, good for farmers and producers, and tastes amazing too!
So, are you craving coffee yet? Stop by a Global Gifts store near you to sample one of the many varieties of Fair Trade coffee we have available. While you're there, check out our coffee accessories and coffee-derived products!