The short answer is this: knowing the origin of your coffee. Today I was reading on Grounds For ChangeÂ about this topic. The Fair Trade Certification ensures that hard-working coffee farmers are being paid fairly. Many coffee farmers are making less for their coffee than the cost of production. But farmers who grow Fair Trade Certified coffee receive a fair price for their work, and they are able to support their families, their communities, and the environment.
But there are, in fact, many qualifications and criteria that must be met in order for a coffee to be classified as Certified Fair Trade. When you buy a Fair Trade coffee, this is what it actually means:
- FT coffee is purchased directly from the growers at a higher price than other coffee.
- FT coffee farmers must be part of a democratically-run cooperative working with other local growers, not a single estate. Growers are guaranteed a minimum price for the coffee. If market prices exceed the minimum, coffee growers receive a per pound premium. The co-ops then determine how the premium will be spent.
- Importers buy FT coffee directly from the farmers, cutting out the middle man and allowing the FT farmers to compete in the marketplace and develop skills to escape poverty.
- Freedom of association, safe working conditions, and fair wages for those working on FT farms.
- FT also helps develop the local community because theÂ co-opsÂ invest their FT premiums in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, healthcare services and quality improvement training.
Many coffee consumers are realizing the importance of Fair Trade. I saw this article posted last week about a group of students at WVU working with a coffee cooperative in Nicaragua to make sure that farmers receive fair prices for the coffee they grow. Check out the article here.