The low down on Fairtrade coffee

We’ve all heard that buying Fairtrade coffee is the best ethical option, but what does it actually mean?

The Fairtrade symbol is familiar to most of us, but few of us know exactly how it’s helping to make an ethical purchase.

Costa Arvanitopoulos, founder of Barker St, Australia’s first online coffee marketplace, shares a few words of wisdom about what Fairtrade coffee is and how you’re helping by buying it.

What is Fairtrade coffee?

“Fairtrade is coffee that has been certified to have been produced with fair trade practices,” Costa explains. “It means coffee growers are getting a fair price for the coffee they produce.”

This guarantees that the coffee growers aren’t being taken advantage of and they’re getting paid appropriately.

How can you tell if it’s really Fairtrade coffee?

If you’re buying your coffee from a store, you can check out the packaging to check that it features the Fairtrade logo.

“If you favour a particular boutique coffee roaster, you can check with them directly to ensure they source their beans properly,” Costa says.

Or if you buy them online, Costa says that Barker St sells only sustainably grown and ethically produced that have passed stringent quality checks.

“When you purchase low grade or cheap coffee, you risk endorsing a murky supply chain,” Costa says.
Costa also has a general rule to follow when considering the ethical value of your coffee.

“Generally speaking, the more you pay for a bag of coffee, the greater the chance that the coffee grower is making a fair wage,” he says. “They can then reinvest in their farms and produce a quality bean."

What’s the difference between selecting Fairtrade or other types?

When you make the decision to buy Fairtrade coffee over others, Costa says you really are making a difference.

“When you purchase Fairtrade coffee, you’re giving the farmer the opportunity to reinvest in their farm,” he explains. “They can hire more people, invest in better equipment, and expand.”

Apart from using unfair work practices, Costa says non-Fairtrade coffee can also be poor quality.

“Coffee that doesn’t have transparent supply chains often supports unfair treatment of coffee farmers – this can involve paying them well below average wages, utilising child labour, and using harmful and unsustainable pesticides on their coffee trees,” he says.

So, all in all it really is best to consider buying Fairtrade. This way you know it’s been sourced ethically and is a great quality brew.

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