Whether you’re a home coffee drinker who sticks to the basics or a global coffee connoisseur, you likely care about the origin of your coffee. Before it is harvested, sold, roasted, and distributed to you, the liquid black gold that stimulates our pulses and mornings may travel thousands of miles and pass through countless hands. You’ve probably noticed the “fair trade certified” label at some point if you’ve scrutinized the labels of all the coffee options in the grocery store.
There are always new labels and classifications for our favorite coffees, including organic, non-GMO, direct trade, single origin, and fair trade certified. What does this assertion entail? Who will it affect? How, if at all, are taste and quality affected? And, most importantly, are these items worthy of your hard-earned cash? Here is everything you need to know about fair trade coffee so that you can better understand what’s in your morning brew and decide if this long-standing designation merits your attention.
No single organization has sole authority over the designation of fair trade certification. According to Fair Trade Winds, multiple institutions have this capability, but the most widely recognized fair trade label is the blue and green Fairtrade International label. The Fair Trade Federation, the World Fair Trade Organization, B Corporation, and Fair Trade Certified are additional organizations.
The larger organizations certify all types of products, whereas smaller groups may specialize in products such as apparel, wine, produce, or technology. As My Ethical Choice explains, which one a grower or producer chooses will depend on geographic location and accessibility, the products the organization specializes in, that group’s certification requirements and process, and the grower’s or producer’s personal opinions of the organization’s reputation — not all organizations are created equal, as discussed in another section of this article.