from the archives – we love coffee! 11 october 2007

coffee is one of the best reasons to get up in the morning. at least that is how i feel about it. it was quite easy for me to become addicted to this liquid while working in a cafe. one free pound of beans per week and as much coffee as i could ingest during my shift was enough to get me hooked. who wouldn’t get addicted?

at that time, in the mid-late 90’s, i must admit that i was pretty much in the dark about coffee. i knew nothing about fair trade, shade grown or bird friendly coffee. i didn’t realize the effect that the coffee i was drinking had on people in hot climates picking beans for less than $1.00 per pound.

then one day the mail came and there was a coffee trade magazine in the mix. since we weren’t that busy i decided to sit and read up on the coffee industry. i came across this great article about an organization called “coffee kids”. their mission was simple –

to help coffee-farming families improve the quality of their lives.

reading on in the article i learned the following –

•Coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world economy, after oil.
•The global coffee industry $60 billion annually. Coffee farmers earn as little as 4 cents a pound for the coffee they pick by hand.
•For every pound of gourmet coffee sold, small-coffee farmers receive between 12¢ and 25¢.
•25 million families around the world work in the coffee-fields and totally depend on the coffee crop as their only source of income.

these statistics are mind boggling, considering we were selling pounds of coffee at our cafe for anywhere from $9-$15 per pound (and even higher for types such as kenya aa ($25/pound) and jamaica blue mountain ($30/pound). after reading the article, i spoke to our district manager to find out if there was any way that we could start looking into fair trade coffee. i was told to speak to the owner of the cafe i worked for. a few days later i had a conversation with our owner and was told that fair trade coffee was too expensive. this answer coming from a lady that drove around in a bmw and lived in a good size home while paying her own employees well below the standard for baristas in the coffeehouse industry. i’m not sure where i thought i would get with my suggestion, but i had hoped to see a little bit of goodwill on the part of the company i worked for.

needless to say, this was the beginning of the end for me at that particular coffee establishment. it was sort of the last straw to find that my employer wouldn’t even consider something that would make the company better global citizens and, in the long run, help many people in need. fair trade is important. it saves lives and mends families.

if you are a coffee drinker (or tea totaller, cocoa consumer or chocolate fanatic) please consider buying fair trade for these products. whenever you visit your favourite coffeehouse be sure to ask for fair trade products. if each of us does our part to keep up the push on these coffee places, eventually everyone will carry the best and most conscious products available. and believe me, the cup of coffee that you know helped the whole supply chain better their lives is the best cuppa java you will ever sip!

peace – hippiegrrl

links of use for this topic…

frankenbucks campaign from organic consumers
fair trade federation
global exchange
make trade fair from oxfam international

where to find fair trade products in Buffalo and Rochester –
Lexington Co-Operative Market
Abundance Co-Operative Market
One World Goods
The Coffee Connection
Lori’s Natural Foods

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