Fair Trade Coffee Beans - Whats The Difference?

My enthusiasm for coffee has exploded in recent weeks and it has led me to find out more about Fair Trade Coffee and what it means to farmers and consumers.

How much do we pay for a coffee in a coffee shop? At the moment it is between $3 to $4 if we are lucky. If my maths are correct, we get about 30 cups per pound of coffee. That would make the cost $90 to $120 per pound of coffee.

That would make coffee farmers rolling in money, right? Well, no, far from it. The cost of coffee at the moment on the world coffee market is about $1 per pound. From when the farmer sells the coffee beans to when we drink a cup in the café, the cost has risen by 100 times the original price.

The idea of the Fair Trade is to get rid of a lot of the middlemen that traditional coffee trading involves.

Between the coffee production and the consumer there is a long winded and expensive process that involves many middlemen who all want to get their cut which doesn't leave a lot, if anything for the farmer.

For Fair Trade importers to become certified, they have to ensure certain other criteria are met.

Importers will have to pay the farmers a minimum of $1.26 per pound for their coffee. If the world coffee prices rise above the minimum price of $1.26 per pound the coffee farmers are guaranteed a further $.05 above the current market price. Farmers are often paid less for their coffee than what it costs them to produce it so they end up in debt and out of business so this is a substantial benefit to them.

Credit facilities are also given to the farmers by the importers, which keeps them out of debt with the local "sharks", giving them a better chance of surviving and prospering. In between harvests, money can become low and local middlemen can take advantage of the farmers by buying the rights to the crop for a very low price.

Importers must help the farmers to achieve local sustainable farming methods. With the help of the Fair Trade organisations, organic, shade grown and bird friendly methods can be used and their coffee can be sold as such.

They have to provide a good standard of working environment and stop the sweatshops that workers often labour in. Farmers often bring their children in to help them achieve their daily quota. Living and sleeping conditions are harsh in many cases.

Many consumers would prefer to pay a little extra for their coffee if they know that it is helping the farmers that produce it, not only financially but with their working conditions and the future of the producers coffee farms.

Fair Trade coffee is not only great for the local economy, it is great for us as consumers too. Just Because it is Fair Trade coffee it doesn't mean it is any less full of flavour. There are some terrific coffees around for us to enjoy.

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About The Author, Martin Lauder
If you want to try some Fair Trade coffee at a fair price to us as consumers as well as hundreds of other coffee products, you can find out more at Fair Trade Coffee Beans