Here at Sally Sue’s Coffee, we believe firmly in purchasing and roasting only organic and Fair Trade Coffee.

“Fair Trade Coffee” is a term that nearly every coffee consumer has heard at some point or another. It is proudly announced on packages and cans of coffee, in radio and television ads, on signs and billboards. But what does it actually mean? And why should you care?

Fair Trade coffee guidelines and certifications were initially set up in 1992. What this certification established was a set of standards – environmental, social, and economic – to assist coffee producers and their communities.

Nearly all coffee in the United States is imported from elsewhere. Coffee plants require very specific growing conditions which do not exist in abundance in the US. So coffee is produced in tropical and semi-tropical locations throughout the world such as Columbia, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Guatemala, Kenya, and many others. The regional soils and growing conditions in these countries is what gives sourced coffees their unique characteristics and flavor profiles.

One obvious downside is that nearly all of these major coffee-producing nations have serious economic and social challenges. They have had little oversight or regulation from their respective governments, high poverty rates, and few opportunities to improve their way of life. For many of these countries, coffee is the single largest and most important export crop. Without a system to protect the producers and set quality standards, corporate profiteers would further erode the economies of these regions.

Fair Trade Coffee was set up to establish growing and production standards such as safe working conditions, minimum pricing, and sustainable environmental practices. This ensures that co-ops of coffee growers receive fair wages and better quality of life.

In order to become certified Fair Trade Coffee, a producer (or co-op of producers) needs to pass initial inspection and annual follow-up inspections. There are additional criteria, such as “Certified Organic Coffee” that can increase the established per pound pricing of Fair Trade Coffee.

This means Fair Trade Coffee may be slightly more expensive, but you can be assured of its quality and its origin. You can be assured that it is being produced in an environmentally sound way. And you can also be assured that money from your purchase is going toward improving the lives and living conditions of workers in producing countries. Fair Trade money goes toward schools, hospitals, and wages in countries where money for improvements like these are badly needed.

So next time you see that “Certified Fair Trade Coffee” label on your morning brew, you can feel proud that you’ve made a difference in the lives of families across the world.

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