>Fair Trade Coffee and You


By Brooke Hubbard

Seattle home to Starbucks, a name known everywhere in connection to high-end coffee, is also home to a few coffee shops that make the Emerald City a little greener. Pangaea Organica is just one of the smaller coffee retailers that sell certified organic and fair-trade coffee. Sustainable 1000 was able to land an interview with co-creator Rick where he talked to us about his passion for sustainable coffee and what it means to him. Producing coffee is more than just a business for profit. It is about making deliberate buisness choices that line up with his standard of social responisbility. It is about insuring that what he is offering is coming from a place he is proud to support. In Seattle where coffee is as much a staple as the rain, Pangaea Organica has hit upon an item that fits perfectly into the eco-friendly and jittery culture.

Interestingly, in 2010, the market for organic coffee has been marked as one of the most profitable businesses, making the coffee the most valuable organic product in North America. But, being organic does not always mean being Fair Trade certified. To be certified as a Fair Trade coffee there are several principles that need to be met. The idea behind Fair Trade is that “Fair Trade empowers farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.” Trans Fair USA has outlined those principles and all things fair trade in a very clear and easy-to-understand way. In the interest of time, I’ve compiled a quick crash course.

Here’s what you need to know about what makes fair trade coffee more than just coffee.

Fair Trade Coffee must abide to all the following principles:
1. Fair Prices
2. Fair labor conditions
5. Community development
6. Environmental sustainability
With those six principles in place, farmers are able to compete on a leveled playing field that combats unfair treatment, wages, and conditions of workers, businesses and the environment. However, Fair Trade cannot survive on principles alone. Consumers are responsible for casting their vote for Fair Trade by being aware of the coffee they are purchasing and looking for the Fair Trade logo on purchased products.

Here’s where you as a consumer fit in:

1. Look for the Logo:
Get to know what companies are fair trade certified. Less companies than you think are 100% Fair Trade or working to get to be fair trade. (Don’t panic, Starbucks, Dunkins and McDonalds are all on the list!)
2. Be pro-active:
If you discover that your favorite coffee spot is not servering Fair Trade Coffee, don’t despair. Start working on convincing your local favorite coffee spot to move towards fair trade.

3. Learn all you need to know about your cause:
(here’s some help, the Fair Trade Institute posts every single article written about Fair Trade on their site!) Or you could just start with Wikipedia 🙂 The more you know the more people will listen.

Remember, we are working to increase awareness and promote business choices and life practices that support the environment. Sustainability is pro-activity!

“I realized this time, like any other business, I am going to make smart choices to accomplish the goal – 1000 interviews from 48 states in 250 days. I want this organization to be a long term media company that engages the audience of people who know sustainability, then crosses the boundary of those who do not know. ” – Shane Snipes


One response to this post.

  1. >good advice. i'll definitely think about it when buying coffee


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