What is Fair about it?
When you see the TransFair USA logo on your favorite blends, you are looking at fair trade coffee products that have passed the stringent certification requirements of the Oakland-based company.
What exactly is fair trade and how does it affect your beverage, you ask?
Well, fair trade is a straightforward concept: Instead of depriving marginalized coffee producers in developing countries of their fair share in the lucrative industry, wealthy coffee buyers establish mutually beneficial relationships with them.
This is mainly achieved through the provision of fair prices often above the prevailing world commodity prices. The end result often means more economic and social stability for the farmers and workers while the retailers still make money.
As fans of fair trade coffee will tell you, the taste, smell and texture of this type of coffee doesn’t differ greatly from the non-fair trade types.
Ultimately, how coffee tastes and smells are often dictated by the soil and climate it was grown in as well as the care poured into growing and harvesting it, not necessarily by how much farmers were paid for it.
And just like non-fair trade products, coffee blends possessing the fair trade mark come in K-cups and bags as well as mixed concoctions from coffee shops and stores in a dizzying and addicting array of flavors.
Thus, companies like Green Mountain offer special gourmet coffee from fair trade partners while food giants like McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks provide fair trade coffee blends for its diners.
It is estimated that there are more than 500 companies within the United States that sport the logo in their products ranging from bananas to, well, coffees.
As previously stated, coffees bearing the fair trade mark don’t differ greatly in quality tests based on the five criteria of acidity, aroma, flavor, body, and mouth feel.
Most fair trade coffee will score ratings of 86 and above, which means that these are very good coffee worth your time of day. Besides, these scores are definitely way over the low scores of canned coffee products vis-Ã -vis quality and character!
And then there is also the very miniscule difference between the best non-fair trade and fair trade blend – at just half-point in favor of the latter – that ought to destroy the claims of proponents against the latter being inferior to the former.
And don’t forget that it is improving with the new technologies being introduced to the fair trade partners to make their coffee competitive!
At present, the main disadvantage to fair trade blends is their limitations in terms of geography. There are very few farmers and countries that are partners in fair trade organizations.
However, it’s definitely a start since fair trade was a non-existent word in mainstream commerce about ten years ago.
And then there is the emerging trend of the fair trade mark being used as more of a marketing tool to make companies appear socially responsible and, hence, attract more consumers. There are false hopes and false promises that violate the noble ideas of fair trade.
Well, if the coffee satisfies, then buy it!
And if said coffee benefits farmers and their families half a world away with every cup you drink, then all the more reason to buy it.
And don’t worry about fair trade coffee being more expensive because it’s not.