Why Buy Fair Trade Coffee?

By Megan Dority — / Coffee Talk

Why Buying Fair Trade Coffee Is so Important

When you’re kicking back, relaxing with that cup of coffee you’ve become reliant on, do you ever wonder about the journey of the coffee bean? How did it get from a bean on a tree to that divine flavor you can’t wait to get ahold of every morning? Every decision made is based on honoring the hard-working farmers at the root of this journey. Death Wish Coffee believes in purchasing beans through Fair Trade, to ensure that we always know exactly where our coffee is grown, who grew it, how the beans are treated and the benefits they receive through this unique direct trade. 

A Fair Trade Coffee Farm in Ethiopia with tables of coffee cherries that need to be sorted.

[Photo Provided by Falcon Coffees]

What is Fair Trade Coffee?

Just like an organic certification, Fair Trade Certified lets you know about the origin of your coffee. While Fair Trade Certified coffee comes from all over the world, the coffees all have one thing in common: the farmers receive a fair pay, and their communities and environment benefit as well.

Fair Trade represents a number of guiding principles. Above all, Fair Trade associations that source and distribute products are concerned with economically disadvantaged people, particularly those who live in developing countries. The goal of Fair Trade is to ensure a livable wage for people who ordinarily would live in extreme poverty. Fair Trade groups work to achieve working conditions that are non-discriminatory and that pay a just wage. Part of this process involves eliminating child labor. 

By trading this way, we’re hoping to help farmers raise their families out of poverty, provide them with an opportunity to improve their communities’ infrastructure and protect the environment. Fair Trade empowers coffee farmers to market their own harvests with international buyers so that they can compete in the global marketplace. Receiving a fair price for their harvest allows the farmers to invest in their families by giving their children a chance at an education and access to health care—which we often take for granted. 

A group of Fair Trade coffee farmers standing in front of a large building.[Photo Provided by Falcon Coffees]

Why Buy Fair Trade Coffee?

Fair Trade makes it possible to reverse an economy traditionally based on taking advantage of inequalities and ignoring environmental needs. By choosing Fair Trade, we have made a commitment to make decisions that positively impact people and the environment, instead of focusing on the lowest cost or most convenient actions. 

What Does the Fair Trade Label Mean?

Fair Price: Coffee farmers receive a fair price for their harvest. They also receive premiums for community development projects, like improving water supplies, tree planting, clean energy and education. If the coffee is Fair Trade and Organic, like our Death Wish Coffee blends, the farmers receive even higher premiums.  

Fair Labor Conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms have safe working conditions and fair wages. Forced child labor or physical forced labor is prohibited.  

Environmental Sustainability: Coffee farmers are on the frontlines when it comes to climate change. As the unpredictable effects of climate change continue to threaten the livelihoods of coffee farmers around the world, it’s more important than ever to make sure your morning cup of coffee is Fair Trade Certified. 

Fair Trade farms use sustainable farming methods to minimize their impact on the environment and protect the health of the farmers and ecosystem. Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are prohibited on Fair Trade farms. To improve soil fertility and prepare for climate change, Fair Trade farmers protect the land and wildlife by intercropping plant species.   

Direct Trade: Fair Trade coffee farmers trade directly with the importers who purchase from Fair Trade producer groups. By eliminating unnecessary middlemen, coffee farmers are empowered to compete in the global marketplace. 

Transparency: Farmers and farm workers get to decide how to invest their Fair Trade revenues.  

Community Development: Fair Trade farmers invest their premiums in social and business development projects like education, scholarship programs, healthcare services, infrastructure improvements, environmental stewardship and training.   

A group of students learning in a classroom in Ethiopia.[Copyright: Girls Gotta Run Foundation]

Why is the Fair Trade Certification so Important Now?

While coffee drinkers around the world get to enjoy the fruits of their labor, coffee farmers face many challenges in their everyday life. Global warming continues to disrupt their agriculture, which is the livelihood of future generations in these coffee-growing regions. Many farmers in the developing world don’t receive a fair price for their harvest. Located in isolated rural communities, they lack direct market access, often selling their premium crops to local middlemen below the cost of production. Driven by a cycle of debt, farmers have to abandon their land and years of farming history—destroying the cultural fabric of these communities and compromising the environment.  

By purchasing Fair Trade, you’re helping farmers improve their lives, their children’s lives and their communities’ lives. One decision that may seem insignificant to you, what kind of coffee to buy, can make a significant impact on many lives behind the scenes. 

  • Consumers: Fair Trade empowers consumers to make confident purchases they can feel good about. Purchasing Fair Trade guarantees that the products were produced and traded fairly. 
  • Producers: By receiving a fair price for their labor, Fair Trade farmers can invest in their communities and protect the environment for future generations. 
  • The Earth: Fair Trade requires and rewards sustainable farming methods that protect the health of the farmers, the wildlife and preserve valuable ecosystems against climate change.  

Now that you’re getting ready to kick your feet up again and sip on that delicious, strong coffee, put that thought into the community that produced the coffee beans and made that perfect cup possible for you. If you’re going to drink it, you might as well drink the best of it. 

The Fair Trade seal is the most recognized ethical label in the world. By choosing Fair Trade Certified coffee, you know that the beans are grown using rigorous standards, which support farmers and their communities and help protect the environment. 

RELATED: The Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee Growing Region 

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