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What Is Sustainable Fair Trade Coffee?

Coffee is the lifeblood not only of our morning commutes and late-night study sessions, but also of countless communities all across the globe – from South America to Southeast Asia – who depend on this important crop for survival.

But for so long, trade has been unfair and unbalanced. Indigenous coffee-growers have traditionally been exploited by trading companies that pay low amounts of money for coffee, only to sell it abroad for much more.

This incentivizes growers to plant more and more coffee to make ends meet, which isn’t sustainable because it has a negative effect on the labor force and the environment since growers have to completely gut forests. But it’s the best system we have – or is it?

Fortunately, it isn’t. There’s a better way: sustainable, fair trade coffee.

Making the Coffee Trade Fair for All

Sustainable fair trade coffee is, per its name, sustainable and fair to the growers. ‘Sustainable’ is an official term that was coined in the late 1990’s and is defined as coffee that meets certain levels of social, environmental, and economic standards. Coffee that is verified by an independent third party to meet these standards can be labelled as sustainable.

‘Fair trade’ means that growers are paid higher prices and have their rights as growers protected from exploitation from trading companies. A coffee-grower who grows fair trade coffee receives better pay and has a better standard of living, all things considered equal, than non-fair trade growers.

Sustainable, fair trade coffee ensures that everyone benefits from coffee trade. The consumer – you – benefit by gaining access to the world’s best coffee. Growers benefit by having a higher quality of life. Trading companies benefit by having a stable base of supply that doesn’t violate human rights.

Over the past decade, sustainable fair trade coffee has grown. As of 2008, 8% of the global coffee trade was sustainable; as of 2012, that number had grown to 16%. More Americans are choosing sustainable, fair trade coffee both in grocery stores and in coffee shops, and have become more familiar with the plight of native coffee-growers and how trade is unbalanced against them.

How We Support Coffee-Growers

At Seeds, we believe in supporting local coffee-growers. We believe that the best coffee is sustainably produced, in partnership with indigenous growers working with importers who understand the importance of fairness in trade.

We like to go beyond, though, and create what are called direct trade partnerships with growers who work with us without having to go through a middleman. This helps those local communities prosper because they’re getting more for their crops – and we get to pass along the benefits to our consumers.

When you drink coffee at Seeds, you are directly or indirectly helping those local growers to prosper. You are contributing to a global movement that seeks to break down barriers to fairness and build up strong relationships that transcend the globe – from our society to theirs, spreading messages of love and equality across the planet.

We will always support sustainable, fair trade coffee because it’s a core part of who we are and what we do. The next time you have a cup at Seeds, know that you are playing your part in this mission, and for that, we are grateful.

Support Seeds and its expanding community of indigenous growers by visiting one of our two locations in Homewood and Lakeview, or buying coffee online.