I’ve known coffee since I was a baby. My family is filled with coffee drinkers. But for a long time, we didn’t know anything about ethical coffee. What is ethical, fair trade coffee? And what the heck are ethical coffee brands?
It’s related to this aspect: There is an insane global demand for coffee. And this doesn’t come without the ugly side: forced labor and slavery. There are about 250 million child slaves working to produce coffee and cocoa, according to the International Labor Organization. Not only are the workers treated very badly and for very little pay, but they are also forced to endure work conditions that no one should have to – including exposure to harmful chemicals and pesticides.
In this post, we’ll first list out the best ethical, fair trade coffee brands, and then dive into the details of the global coffee industry. Grab a cuppa and settle in!
Best Fair Trade Coffee
Want a handy list of ethical coffee brands in alphabetical order? These are coffee companies that source their coffee from countries in North America (Mexico), South America (Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru), Asia (Sumatra, Timor Leste) and Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya):
1 // Allegro Coffee | USA | Buy on Amazon
2 // Alpaca Coffee | UK
3 // Batdorf & Bronson Coffee | USA | Buy on Amazon
4 // Café Campesino | USA
5 // Café Mam | USA
6 // Cafédirect | UK | Buy on Amazon
7 // Conscious Coffees | USA
8 // Dean’s Beans | USA | Buy on Amazon
9 // DOMA | USA
10 // Equal Exchange | USA | Buy on Amazon
11 // Grounds for Change | USA
12 // Grumpy Mule | UK | Buy on Amazon
13 // Higher Ground Roasters | USA
14 // Kickapoo Coffee | USA | Buy on Amazon
15 // Larry’s Coffee | USA | Buy on Amazon
16 // Peace Coffee | USA
17 // Percol | UK
18 // Pura Vida Coffee | USA
19 // Rise Up Coffee Roasters | USA
20 // Salt Spring Coffee | Canada
21 // Stumptown Roasters | USA | Buy on Amazon
22 // The Roasterie | USA
23 // Traidcraft | UK
24 // Union Hand-Roasted Coffee | UK
25 // Wandering Bear Coffee | USA | Buy on Amazon
A final point: The best way to buy coffee is to buy based on quality. Quality of the seller, of the producer, and of the coffee itself. No compromises.
Fair Trade Coffee Brands At Walmart
Luckily, Walmart offers a diverse selection of fair trade coffee that combines affordability and ethical sourcing. Walmart partners with various fair trade coffee brands, including Death Wish Coffee, Green Mountain and Valhalla Java, to provide consumers with accessible options that prioritize both quality and social responsibility.
Fair Trade Coffee Beans
What are fair trade coffee beans and where are they grown? In the fair trade system, farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for their coffee, which acts as a safety net during periods of market volatility. This stability enables them to plan for the future and invest in their communities, fostering education, healthcare, and infrastructure improvements.
Also, fair trade coffee is produced using environmentally friendly practices. Farmers are encouraged to adopt organic farming methods, reducing reliance on harmful pesticides and promoting biodiversity. This not only benefits the ecosystem but also ensures the production of high-quality coffee beans.
The fair trade movement also prioritizes democratic decision-making and empowers farmers by enabling them to participate actively in their cooperatives. This involvement allows them to have a say in the management of their farms and the allocation of resources, promoting a sense of ownership and fostering long-term sustainability.
By purchasing fair trade coffee beans, we coffee drinkers can support these principles and contribute to a more equitable and sustainable coffee industry. It provides an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of coffee farmers, their families, and communities, while enjoying a delicious and ethically sourced cup of coffee.
What Is Fair Trade Coffee Why Is It An Ethical Issue
Coffee has a long history, but and has been a wonderful thing in the world. But there are several pressing ethical issues with the coffee industry today.
1 / Environmental Damage
Rapidly increasing demand for coffee, along with intense competition, has led to increased coffee mono-cropping and sun cultivation methods. Because of this, 2.5 million acres of forest in Central America have been cleared to make way for coffee farming, and this deforestation is on the rise in coffee-growing countries (Source: WWF). Incidentally, 37 of the 50 countries in the world with the highest deforestation rates are also major coffee producers.
2 / Exploitation of Farm Workers
Coffee production has involved unfavorable labor practices with low wages, long hours, no benefits, and child labor. Coffee producers in coffee-producing countries receive only about 10% of the coffee product’s retail price.
3 / Waste Creation
4 / Pollution
Ethical Coffee Sourcing
Ethical coffee is coffee that is produced and consumed without the issues listed above. It is coffee produced with consideration for the health of the environment and wildlife, and the wellbeing of the farm workers and others in the supply chain. There are loads of labels associated, and we provide some key definitions below:
The term ‘organic’ is strictly regulated by the US Department of Agriculture. Certified organic coffee sold in the U.S. must be produced under standards established by the USDA’s National Organic Program. The ‘organic’ seal means that it was grown using at least 95% organic fertilizers and without the use of chemical pesticides that can be harmful to farmers, wildlife and the environment. The label also indicates that the soil quality is being protected.
This means the coffee beans have been sourced directly from small-scale farmers, who were paid a fair price for their produce. Fairtrade International sets a minimum price to be paid directly to small-scale coffee producers, to provide stability among the highly volatile global coffee price fluctuations.
Fair Trade Certified
The coffee is from larger farms and plantations that meet certain standards, such as safe working conditions. The farms must also pay workers the local minimum wage at least, and implement a plan to increase that to a living wage over time.
Originally, coffee grew in the shade of much taller canopy trees. Fast-forward to many centuries later, and coffee is now mostly grown in farms, where farmers try to mimic the original shade conditions to get better yield. Shade grown coffee is supposed to maintain a healthier environment, with less pollution and soil erosion. There’s also the sun-grown coffee category, which most of the popular coffee varieties being to, and which doesn’t really make an effort to create coffee plants’ native environment. So you see why the shade-grown variety is popular among environmentalists.
There’s no separate certification for shade-grown coffee. If you want authentic shade-grown coffee, though, you could look into the bird-friendly habitat certification.
The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has defined this as a farm that not only produces organic coffee, but also protects the environmental biodiversity, and the natural habitats of birds and other local wildlife. This is the only reliable “shade-grown” certification currently, and only the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center awards this certification.
This is certified by the Rainforest Alliance, to farms that meet certain environmental and social standards. Since the certification is awarded based on a score for meeting a minimum number of requirements, this isn’t the most robust of certifications.
Ethical Coffee FAQs
1 // What are the ethical coffee certifications I need to look for?
There’s a good guide here.
2 // Is coffee vegan?
Coffee is a bean, plucked from a plant. So, it’s vegan. But the ridiculous civet coffee, also known as kopi luwark, derived from civet poop, is not vegan or ceutlry-free (because sometimes civets in cages are force-fed the cherries).
3 // Can I grow coffee at home?
You know what? Apparently, yes, you can. Check out these resources to find out more. I’d assumed coffee was a difficult crop to grow, but it seems not!
Here’s an amazingly detailed video on growing coffee in containers at home:
The drawback is that it takes about three to four years before you can harvest the fruit. Which is okay if you’re a regular gardener and understand that good things take time and require patience.
This post was about ethical coffee brands
We hope you found this post useful. Searching for ethical coffee on your own is a complicated and time-consuming task. So, it’s best to go for one of the brands listed in this post, and work your way from there – until you find the best tasting ethical coffee in existence!;) And then let us know as well.
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