Aug 30, 2018

Fair Trade Coffee Companies: A List

Yesterday, I shared some information and background about a convention resolution I'm submitting to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts encouraging parishes and the diocese to use fair trade coffee at all church events. Today I'm sharing links to fair trade coffee companies that are making a difference in the world.

The thing about the fair trade world, is that it's confusing to navigate. There are various labels out there (Fairtrade International (FLO), the World Fair Trade Organization, Fair Trade Federation, and Fair TradeUSA, etc), but many have been coopted by corporations using this as little more than a marketing scheme. Perhaps a small percentage of their coffee is fairly traded -- enough to garner a label -- but the vast majority is not. That's not in the spirit of the initial fair trade movement and it's why it's critical to support companies that engage in what we'd call "authentic" fair trade.

As Daniel Jaffee puts it in his book Brewing Justice, the primary goal of the authentic fair trade movement is "to create more direct, socially just, and environmentally responsible trade relations — mainly between disadvantaged farmers in the global South and concerned consumers in the North…In practical terms, the fair-trade system accomplishes this objective by cutting out many of the intermediaries or middlemen, such as exporters, importers, and brokers, who typically take a cut at each step along the route from tree, field, or farm to the coffee shop or grocery shelf.”
Here are some of the mostly commonly used criteria for determining whether products are produced under authentic fair trade conditions:
·      Guaranteed minimum (floor) prices to producers; 
·      Fair wages to laborers; social development premium
·      Advance credit or payment to producers
·      Democratically run producer cooperatives or workplaces
·      Long-term contracts and trading relationships
·      Environmentally sustainable production practices
·      Public accountability and financial transparency
·      Financial and technical assistance to producers
·      Safe, nonexploitative working conditions. 
Finally, here's a list of such companies compiled by Susan Sklar, Interfaith Manager at Equal Exchange, from the Fair Trade Federation and the Fair World Project. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Susan and her team and continue to be impressed by their passion for justice in the coffee world.

Bongo Java Roasting Company (Nashville, TN)
Café Campesino/Sweetwater Organic Coffee Company (Americus, GA)
Conscious Coffee (Boulder, CO)
Dean's Beans (Orange, MA)
Desert Sun Coffee (Durango, CO)
Earth Friendly Coffee (Denver, CO)
Equal Exchange (West Bridgewater, MA)
Just Coffee Co-Op (Madison, WI)
Larry's Coffee (Raleigh, NC)
Peace Coffee (Minneapolis, MN)
Mt. Meru Coffee Project (West Bend, WI)
Sustainable Harvest Coffee (Portland, OR)
Twin Engine Coffee (Malden, MO)

I encourage you to support these companies who continue to keep economic equality and the interests of small farmers in the global marketplace as a key part of their mission. Again, it makes a difference.

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