10 Top Fair Trade Coffee Brands

316/365 - Third World Baby [Photo by Helga Weber] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Do you enjoy drinking a warm cup of coffee in the morning?

You probably do, just like many other people.

I’m not much of a coffee drinker myself. I prefer tea.

Although for those of you who love drinking coffee on a regular basis, you probably would prefer drinking fair trade coffee, especially as it ensures fair working conditions and wages for coffee farmers from developing countries.

10 Best Fair Trade Coffee

Here are 10 major fair trade coffee labels, as well as a description of each. Many of them are organic coffees too.

1. Equal Exchange Promotes Better Coffee Through Fair Trade

The secret to the success of Equal Exchange coffee is not just that it’s socially responsible, but that by using fair trade practices for sourcing coffee it also gets better beans.

That is a difference that customers are willing to pay more for, and it’s led to caffeinated growth for Equal Exchange. At first glance fair trade might seem uneconomical, since the co-op is voluntarily paying third-world farmers above market prices in the interest of “fairness”. This higher price is then passed on to cafes, grocery stores and individual customers. However, it turns out that people are willing to pay more for a superior quality product. Equal Exchange actively works with small farmers to help them grow and process better beans, and the result is a product that beats the lower-priced competition.

2. Fair Trade Coffee From Peace Coffee

Fair trade coffee is becoming more and more common, especially among co-op shoppers. Peace Coffee is one company that adheres to the basic fair trade standards which make the coffee trade a bit more fair to the small farmers who often get the short end of the stick when selling their product on the global commodity markets.

The small security that a minimum fixed fair trade price provides is only one piece of the bigger picture. Part of the fair trade price also includes a premium that is allocated to development projects that are determined by the co-op’s membership. Over the years, some of the farmer organizations have chosen to put it towards schools in Ethiopia, clinics in Indonesia, and pickup trucks in Mexico. All of these projects were deemed of critical importance by their communities.

Café con leche - Milchkaffee [Photo by marfis75] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

3. How Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters Promote Fair Trade and Sustainability

Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters put a premium on socially responsible practices like fair trade. They sell some of the finest coffees in the world that are sourced from farms with healthy soil, clean water and a bird-friendly habitat. Their certified organic coffees have been farmed without the use of pesticides or other synthetic inputs.

Batdorf & Bronson are members of the Northwest Shade coffee Campaign, which is committed to purchasing coffees from farms where rustic shade is used to protect the coffee and provide a home to migratory birds. The company ensures access to the best coffees by developing direct relationships with farmers and paying a fair and sustainable price for their coffees. All of the certified organic coffees the company sells also carry a fair trade certification which ensures that farmers have suitable working conditions.

4. Fair Trade Coffee With a Mission From The Roasterie

The Roasterie is a coffee company that was founded by Danny O’Neill after he discovered his love for coffee while he was an exchange student in Costa Rica. The company sells some fair trade coffees at its many locations at college campuses across the country. The Roasterie was founded in the Brookside neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri but has since expanded to Iowa State and many other colleges throughout the country, including Ohio State, the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri and the University of Southern California.

The Roasterie guarantees that all of their fair trade coffee is produced with the greatest respect and compensation for the farmers of the countries of origin. In addition to helping these communities with his business, O’Neill is also giving back to these countries where he obtains most of his coffee by founding the St. Drogo Foundation which gives aid to schools in Brazil, Costa Rica and Colombia.

jack johnson:supposed to be [Photo by visualpanic] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

5. Fair Trade Coffee at Gorilla Coffee

Gorilla Coffee is a company that is local to Brooklyn, New York. All of the coffee they offer is fair trade certified and organic. In addition, it is roasted on the premises daily. The baristas will grind your coffee to order, which is uncommon in cafes today. The coffee they use for their espresso is a relatively light roasted Brazilian bean which produces a mildly acidic shot. They also sell a variety of beans available by the pound, all freshly roasted.

Not only are all of the coffee offerings at Gorilla Coffee fair trade certified, but all of their teas are as well. The coffee is always roasted in-house four to five times a week, and every bag of coffee sold is marked with a roast date. The coffee is bagged fresh and usually still warm from the roast. The maker of their coffee roaster, Stephen Diedrich, is considered a guru in the roasting world and he is the one who taught the shop’s owners how to roast.

6. Doma Coffee Practices Fair Trade and Sustainability

DOMA coffee began with the intention of creating a life-long project that was about much more then coffee. The goal was to create an environmentally sound company that roasts great fair trade coffee. DOMA purchases certified organic, fair-traded and direct relationship coffees. They are a member of Cooperative Coffees, which means that they are committed to placing farmers and their product front and center.

DOMA makes it a point to let their customers know the people that grow their coffee and the cooperative organizations that they own and manage. Their commitment to sustainability inspires the company to also partner with other local businesses and community groups on projects involving bicycle transportation, green building and community gardens. All of the light at DOMA is ultra-high-efficiency, and all of their print material is produced with recycled paper and vegetable-based inks.

La Pita coffee plantation: Matagalpa, Nicaragua [Photo by nagillum] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

7. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Known For Fair Trade Practices

Around the world, from Guatemala to Colombia to Kenya and across the Indian Ocean to Indonesia, coffee farmers everywhere are struggling to make ends meet as they did during the world’s last coffee crisis. This time, though, fair trade with companies like Stumptown Coffee is helping small family coffee farms and cooperatives to meet these challenges. Costs of production at origin, ranging from fertilizer to processing and transportation are at all-time highs, and real financial incentive is the only means that these small coffee farmers have of continuing their pursuit of excellence.

The commodity coffee market has not created an atmosphere which values the top-quality production methods of small farmers, yet this element is critical to producing great coffee. Stumptown’s direct trade strategy is based on the premise of nurturing relationships with coffee producers and giving them an opportunity to command better prices.

8. Fair Trade Organic Coffee From Newman’s Own

Newman’s Own has partnered with Vermont’s Green Mountain Coffee which is a leader in the specialty coffee industry. The partnership is designed to allow both companies to pursue their shared philanthropic goals while offering customers an exceptional product line from which to choose. This line will include seven fair trade organic coffees that are made from some of the world’s finest handpicked arabica beans, which have been roasted according to the handcrafted traditions that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is famous for.

The fair trade certification insures that farmers in coffee producing regions around the world can enjoy a better life. All of the beans are grown and processed to meet the strictest organic standards, so that these coffees are gentle on the environment as well as extremely enjoyable to drink.

Friendly man playing Mandolin in the park near Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam [Photo by Eustaquio Santimano] (CC BY-SA 3.0)

9. Suma Launches Fair Trade Coffee

Suma launched a new range of five single country ground coffees in 2010 that are all organic and fair trade certified. The coffees are suitable for cafetieres, coffee makers and percolators, and their countries of origin include Sumatra, Honduras, Ethiopia, Peru and Colombia. For those who like to grind their own coffee, there are also Ethiopian Yirgachefffe, Peru and Columbia beans available.

It is advised that you grind the beans immediately before use and adjust the grinder to suit your coffee making equipment per the manufacturer guidelines. Suma is a workers’ Cooperative that has been practicing fair trade principles for over 20 years. They market products that directly benefit producers in various parts of the developing world. They look for products that are both fair trade certified and organic whenever possible, and are always working with importers and manufacturers to make more of these products available.

10. Percol Fair Trade Coffee Pioneer

Percol Coffee is a UK company that has earned the Fairtrade Mark. The company is committed to the concept of fair trade, paying the coffee growers they source from a fair price for their hard work, which can be as much as three times more than the free market price for coffee. In addition , the growers also receive a premium that they can invest in community projects.

Sourcing coffee beans from small farmers and communities allows Percol to consistently provide coffees that are the highest quality and have a distinctive character. They select farmers who put a lot of care into their crops and the forests that sustain them as well, which highlights their concern for the environment. Percol is a pioneer of fair trade in the UK, and the company takes great pride in their products. The Percol Fairtrade Nicaragua Ground Coffee was one of the first fair trade roast and ground coffees in the UK, and has won three top taste awards.

Share your favorite fair trade coffee

Perhaps I left out your favorite fair trade coffee brand. Tell us the name of your top coffee brand and why you like drinking it!