Besides riding bikes, coffee plays a major role in my life. Learning the art of espresso back when I lived in Germany from an Italian that I worked for, after coming back to the states I worked as a Barista during my college, then I ran a very busy coffeehouse (doing something like 300+ coffee drinks a day!) my education in this field continues today as brand manager for Cravens Coffee. We offer a wide range of coffees, but my focus is primarly on the Certified Organic/ Fair Trade coffees. This is very important as coffee is largely a third-world industry, and coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world. From both the retailers and consumers point of view, it is our responsibility to ensure that farmers in these impoverished parts of the world can afford to buy their evening meals, and not exploited. Transfair, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization out of Holland that oversees the trade of coffee, and through certification sets a fair price for beans. Right now that is around $1.24 per green pound of coffee, we pay on the average $1.65 +.
Cravens buys our coffee based on quality, and is a big patron to the Fair Trade movement, but what about the coffee from really small farms and coops that can't afford certification? Well, I drinking one now. Rwanda has some great coffees, one of which we are putting inot a conventional blend (that is it has not certification). But this coffee is organic, and we paid above fair trade prices for it, not toomention this has become one of my favorites. So what to do, do we say that it is organic and fairly traded? But it has no certification, and that would mislead the consumer. I have seen other companies spin this to the point where you really did not know what the coffee was. Some are mearly exploiting the system, trying to bypass costly certifications, and taping into a marketing tool. While others are geniune in their efforts to treat farmers w/ respect, but they do not participate in the Transfair programs.
Lets face it, it would be great to research all of the companies that we buy products from, but we can't. So look for the certifications, or labels on the coffees that clearly state a companies position. That morning cup of joe you have may make all of the difference in the world to someone half-way accross from you.