What Is Fair Trade Coffee and Should You Buy It?

Once you know the facts about Fair Trade coffee, you can decide whether or not to seek it out

Photo Modified: Flickr / RaSeLaSeD - Il Pinguino / CC BY-SA 4.0

You’ve probably heard of Fair Trade coffee, but do you know what it is?

Anyone remember the days when you could buy a great cup of coffee without having to don a political superhero costume? In the last decade, Americans have become social activists in the eat/buy local and Fair Trade movements and it has empowered us to buy products that mirror our values. But has our Pavlovian enthusiasm for doing the right thing made politically correct macchiatos hollow absolution?

What Is Fair Trade Coffee and Should You Buy It? (Slideshow)

Coffee consumers have embraced Fair Trade’s lofty principals of economic justice, fair labor, environmental protection, and of course Fair Trade, but do we really understand certification’s impact on trade, both in theory and in practice?

Just what is Fair Trade coffee and why should you buy it, or not?

Here’s the skinny on Fair Trade, its origins, and the process. We’ll let you weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself.


Summer Whitford is the D.C. Editor at The Daily Meal and also writes about food, drink, and travel. Follow her on Twitter @FoodandWineDiva, on Instagram at thefoodandwinediva, and read more of her stories here.