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Fair Trade Certified Coffee

Updated on September 6, 2012

Where to buy Fair Trade Coffee

A statistic from 2002 counted as many as 7,000 retail location in the United States that were selling fair trade coffee. At that time, the concept of fair trade coffee wasn't a novelty anymore, lots of people being aware of its benefits.

By now, there are more then 500 companies that sell Fair Trade Certified products at over 35,000 retail locations. In addition, lots of other opportunities have been opened up with the boom of online market.

Today, consumers can find Fair Trade Certified coffee at coffee houses or coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants and local roasters.
Local roasters and coffee shops usually sell a good quality of coffee, often not only fair trade but organic fair trade also. The bigger chains of grocery stores carries mostly products from the big coffee roaster which is less likely to be customized for gourmet tests. It is also cheaper then the small speciality coffee retailers.

Online retailer are also a good option, specially because you can find information about the origin of coffee, the way it is grown or if the roaster is involved in the production at any time.

The Transfair US, a nonprofit organization and only third-party certifier for US, has an extended list of places and companies that sell Fair Trade Certified Coffee and other products.

The best option is a local store or roaster. Not only we help the local economy but the beans are almost all the time fresh roasted.

Photo Courtesy of Jennee Payne   at
Photo Courtesy of Jennee Payne at

What to look for when you buy Fair Trade Coffee


How do you know when a bag of coffee is certified fair trade? Lately, some of the biggest players on the coffee industry have come up with some tricky ways of labeling their coffee that may attract customers but are not fair trade certified. Some other labels could state fair trade but are not certified. Being certified means that a third party is making sure that the coffee meets certain criteria.

If you get your supplies from grocery stores or coffee shops, the best way to find out which one is fair trade certified is lo look for a little mark on the package. There are two logos: one applies to US and Canada and the other one, to the rest of the world.


Fair Trade Certified
Fair Trade Certified

look for this mark for US and Canada


Transfair organization suggestions:

caribou coffee,

dunkin' donuts,

whole foods market,

sam's club

International Fair Trade Certification Mark
International Fair Trade Certification Mark

or this mark for the rest of the world

The Fair Trade Labeling Organization International (FLO), responsable for world wide certification, excluding US and Canada,  has a list of of fair Trade Labeling Initiatives by country, similar with Transfair US where local retailers can be found.

For online shopper the same marks should  appear on the package. Besides the logo, a company with deep implication in the farmers' life or the growers' community will have plenty of information about where the coffee comes from, how the company helped the farmers developed their business, they will also post pictures from farms or plantation. Also, these online retailers would have their own coffee blend and coffees from fewer origins.

How much Fair Trade coffee costs

 On the coffee market, the price per one pound of green fair trade coffee is slightly higher then the regular one. When the non trade fair prices go up, as it happened this year, the fair trade price has to equal them, plus a 10 cents premium. If the coffee is organic also, then the farmer gets 20 more cents per pound. That brings the fair trade coffee somewhere between $ 1.51 and $ 1.70/per pound.

One thing that is different is that the fair trade coffee is usually bought directly from cooperatives of small growers while the non fair trade is bought from big plantations with the addition of an exporter and a broker.

Buy the time is on our table, the pond of conventional coffee had paid more then ten people and companies, the lower income being made by the plantation worker.

By comparison, one pound of fair trade coffee had paid only six, with the worker being given a fair wage.

At Starbucks or Caribou Coffee the difference between the conventional and fair trade per cup is measured in pennies. But some other retailers or roaster, with a true commitment to fair trade like Green Mountain Roaster of Vermont or Just Coffee of Madison, Wisconsin may have to slightly rise the price to be able to keep their pledge. Overall, consumers may pay $1 to $3 more per pound of fair trade coffee then non fair one.

The beans int that sack of coffee could end up in my cup and that is not a problem as long as the child that rests by is not involved 24 h in picking them and his parents are able to provide him food and education.
The beans int that sack of coffee could end up in my cup and that is not a problem as long as the child that rests by is not involved 24 h in picking them and his parents are able to provide him food and education.

Why buy fair trade coffee


One may say "who cares what happens at the other end of the world as far as I'm getting my morning cup on the budget" and that's OK as far as no child had been awaken at 6 am to pick the red berries till night.

But such thing doesn't happens. Kids are still picking coffee from plantation, the farmers still have to climb the mountains on foot wit heavy sacks over the shoulder and still have to live in a deep poverty.

Buy fair trade coffee because there are 25 millions of small coffee farmers that won't make a living out of their lot without the fair trade projects. Because the money goes also to programs like scholarships and trainings. Buy it because to grow such coffee one doesn't need to cut the forests or poison the grounds and rivers with harmful chemicals.
Buy fair trade because the critics are loud enough to cover the cry for help.

Buy it because a cup of fair trade coffee is, simply, better.

And buy fair trade because there is an option and a consequence. Because that's the way to go.


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    • cameciob profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      MarleneB, thanks for stopping and commenting. Coffee industry is so large and so low paying for the far end workers that I feel I'm taking advantage of them with every cup of coffee I drink. Fair trade is trying to make a better life for them and I am proud to be part of the people that buy fair trade (and look to see if is certified as well).

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      6 years ago from USA

      Every morning I make a pot of coffee and never really think about how it was harvested and manufactured. Now that I am aware, I don't think I could ever go back to buying just any type of coffee anymore. Your article has made a believe out of me and one who will do my part in buying fair trade coffee whenever I buy coffee again. Now, the search is on as to where to go to get my hands on this better selection of coffee.

    • BusinessBlessings profile image


      7 years ago from Brisbane, Australia

      It's very important for getting the message out about Fair Trade Coffee. Just uploaded a new hub on "The Coffee Test" to let people know that there is now a monthly coffee club where you can receive fresh roasted, 100% organic 100% free trade coffee to your home every month

    • DesignsbyLisa profile image


      7 years ago from Midwest, United States

      Amen! I just joined "hubpages" and posted a topic very near and dear to your heart. However, I may have posted it in the wrong spot. It's under Farms & Farming, then under "Cooperative Farming" and the topic is called "Coffee Field Workers in Guatemala". I have a lot of questions that I'd like answers to. Maybe you could help? I don't know if it's visible yet as I've only been a member for an hour or two.

    • cameciob profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Cindy2011, thank you for stopping to my hub. I agree with you that the more info we give the better. I've seen some documentaries about coffee and I came to understand how low are some farmers paied for such a great and hard work. it is not fair. Starbucks sells a cup of coffee ten time more expensive then it pays for a lb of pure arabica.

    • Cindy2011 profile image


      7 years ago from Canada's West Coast

      Great information. The more Fair Trade is chatted up, the greater chance of increasing the numbers of supporters. Thanks for sharing.

    • cameciob profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Nell, I appreciate you visit. I visited the UK fair trade site ( and i saw it was pretty interesting. I didn't know about the label either and when I found out I decided to write this hub.

      Thaks for the rating and for your kind comment.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      8 years ago from England

      Hi, as BkCreative says, there is a lot of fair trade stuff over here in England, but I didn't know about checking the label before, I will make sure i do in future. thank you for the info. this is a very important subject. rated up. cheers nell

    • cameciob profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Tony. I'm glad you like my hub. I can't stand to see abused children. There are many ways some people make good money out of children's work. Millions of other people drink coffee maybe without realizing that, at the other end, there are really exploited children. It is at least we can do, is like giving up a penny per year.

      Thank you for your nice comment.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Very good Hub about a very important subject. We are all connected and what happens at the other end of the world actually will in some way have an impact on me sooner or later. So it is wise to support a campaign like Fair Trade. To end child labour the adults have to have a fair chance to make a decent living doing decent work.

      Thanks for sharing this important information and I hope it can help bring to change to some who need it.

      Love and peace


    • cameciob profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi James, I'm glad you stopped. About Fair Trade Certified...there is an International Fair Trade Day, which this year is on May 8. US has a theme which is, I think, 'Fair Trade in your home'. Thank you for comment.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      Very interesting analysis of a subject I had not heard of until now. Thank you.

    • cameciob profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi BKCreative, I do hope that people are going to became knowledgeable consumers one day. And with so much web content they should. I'm glad you share the same opinion. Thank you for your time.

    • BkCreative profile image


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Fair trade everything was so easy to find when I visited my cousins in England. Here in the US I can find it but not as readily as in England. That's really too bad.

      So we just have to make the effort to find it. Thanks for all the information! It just makes sense and the coffee even tastes better.


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