Recently we discussed Californian Senate Bill 568 that will ban the use of Styrofoam cups as well as other foam containers. This got me thinking about coffee.
At a trip to a local coffee shop I asked “Is all your coffee Fair Trade?” The friendly barista said that “All our coffee is Direct Trade.” So what’s the difference between Fair Trade and Direct Trade coffee?
Direct Trade focuses on the premium coffee market and can sometimes pay farmers 25% or more above the Fair Trade minimum for high-quality specialty coffee. It is a pledge by individual roasters, whereas Fair Trade offers the consumer an easy-to-see certification label that indicates the product has met third-party evaluation criteria.
Here are some reasons why we might consider purchasing Fair Trade or Direct Trade coffee:
- Both aim to provide a fair price for coffee growers by eliminating the middlemen of the traditional coffee market, who in some cases take advantage of a farmer’s lack of market knowledge or lack of financial resources.
- Not only is a fair price negotiated with the farmers, but also a contract is negotiated that stipulates what will be paid at each stage of the process: farmer, collector, miller, exporter, and importer.
- Both suggest that a consumer preference that goes beyond just the taste.
Both Fair Trade and Direct Trade have similar goals and both are aimed at improving the conditions for coffee growers. Typically, when one thinks about the treatment of workers, the treatment of the environment also improves. So, next time you are buying coffee, let’s think about the workers, the environment and start asking a few questions!