Happy Fair Trade Day!

May 13, 2022

Saturday, the 14th of May, is International Fair Trade day, a reminder to take stock of what we are consuming and evaluate the ripple effect our habits have on the world around us.

Coffee is the most popular beverage worldwide, with an estimated two billion cups consumed per day, according to the British Coffee Association. It stands to reason, with so much demand for this product, that there are numerous coffee farms, and not all of them are safe or fair environments for the people who work in them.

With so many certifications floating around, claims of ethical trading and sustainable practices, how can you be sure that you are buying coffee that is truly fair trade?

Our advice is: Whenever possible, buy coffee from local roasters that purchase from small scale farmers. The more your roaster knows about where their coffee is coming from, and the closer relationship they have with the farmers themselves, the better. Don’t be afraid to hold your local roasters accountable by asking questions and getting answers.

Tim Adams, founder of Tim Adams Specialty Coffee and the Chapola Project, has told us that he typically visits the farms that supply his green coffee twice per year. In doing so he is able to establish a rapport with the farmers themselves and physically observe the working conditions of the people laboring there. If the farmers he works with are facing hardship, The Chapola Project is there to provide aid. 

It is estimated that of the 200 billion dollars that is spent on coffee per year, throughout the world, farmers receive less than 10%, and they are responsible for the most difficult and time consuming parts of production.

The issue with large global businesses, but more so with large-scale coffee farms, is that it’s much easier for shady business practices to slip through the cracks. Large brazilian coffee plantations, for example, have a reputation for repeatedly being caught using slave labor. 

By buying locally, and tracing the line of relationships from yourself, to your roaster, and your roaster, to the farmer… you can ensure your money is going to the people who deserve it the most, the actual farmers and their workers, and not to middle men who will underpay farmers, raising the likelihood of bad working conditions and slave labor.

In taking the time to ensure you are drinking fair trade and ethically sourced coffee, and by paying a fair price for the coffee you consume, you are taking control over how your consumption not only affects another human life, but how it affects the way businesses are forced to operate.

Happy Fair Trade Day!