Fair Trade Coffee

The United States consumes one-fifth of all the world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often toil in what can be described as "sweatshops in the fields." Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt. Read More

Fair Trade is a viable solution to this crisis, assuring consumers that the coffee we drink was purchased under fair conditions. To become Fair Trade certified, an importer must meet stringent international criteria; paying a minimum price per pound of $1.26, providing much needed credit to farmers, and providing technical assistance such as help transitioning to organic farming. Fair Trade for coffee farmers means community development, health, education, and environmental stewardship.

Coffee prices have plummeted and are currently around $.60-$.70 per pound. "With world market prices as low as they are right now, we see that a lot of farmers cannot maintain their families and their land anymore. We need Fair Trade now more than ever," says Jerónimo Bollen, Director of Manos Campesinas, a Fair Trade coffee cooperative in Guatemala. Meanwhile coffee companies have not lowered consumer prices but are pocketing the difference. "The drastic fall in coffee prices means, in two words, poverty and hunger for thousands of small producers in Latin America," says Merling Preza Ramos, Director of PRODECOOP Fair Trade cooperative in Nicaragua. Learn more about the coffee crisis by reading Global Exchange's statement.

We believe in a total transformation of the coffee industry, so that all coffee sold in this country should be Fair Trade Certified, or if produced on a plantation, that workers' rights should be guaranteed and independently monitored. Our view includes social justice and environmental sustainability: all coffee should be certified organic and shade grown where applicable.