How “fair” is fair trade?

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We often get asked if our coffee beans are fair trade and/or organic. Our answer is always the same: yes and no. Some of our beans are fair trade certified, and some of our beans are organic certified. Some are both, and some are neither. I usually don’t take the time to explain why this is, because most people that ask aren’t particularly interested in a full-length discussion about coffee certifications, they just want to feel good about spending their money on our coffee. I understand this, but I also think it is high time that we have that discussion. What follows is a brief (very brief) overview of our take on “cause” coffee.

The first thing to point out is that “fair trade” certified coffee does not mean better quality coffee. Fair trade is all about price. It means that everyone in the chain—from the farmer to the roaster—are agreeing to either pay a higher price, or take a lower profit to ensure that everyone in the chain is being equitably served. Primarily, fair trade is about guaranteeing the farmer a “fair” price for his product. In essence, this gives the farmer a certain peace of mind about the price he will be receiving for his crop. Importers and roasters pay a higher wage for this coffee, knowing that they will pass the increase on to their customers in the form of a feel-good story about their daily cup (e.g., “Your morning cup enables this farmer to send his children to school every day…”).

Read more at ThrasherCoffee

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