Best Fair Trade Coffee Brands In 2024: Our Top 10 Picks

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As coffee enthusiasts, we understand that the journey from bean to cup involves more than just taste.

It’s about ensuring ethical practices, fair compensation, and sustainable farming methods.

That’s why we’ve scoured the market to bring you our top 10 picks for the best fair trade coffee brands.

These brands not only offer exceptional taste but also adhere to the principles of fair trade, making each sip a responsible and guilt-free pleasure.

10 Best Fair Trade Coffee Brands: At A Glance

  1. Lifeboost Medium Roast: Best Overall
  2. Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling Coffee: Runner-Up
  3. Kicking Horse Coffee Smart Ass Medium Roast: Best Aroma
  4. NO FUN JO DECAF: Best Decaf Option
  5. Tiny Footprint Coffee Nicaragua Segovia: Most Sustainable
  6. Equal Exchange Organic French Roast: Best Cooperative Coffee
  7. Allegro Coffee Organic Cafe La Duena: Women Farm Owners
  8. Mayorga Organics Café Cubano Dark Roast: Best Dark Roast
  9. Ethical Bean Lush Medium Dark Roast: Most Flavorful
  10. Amazon Fresh Organic Fair Trade Peru: Best Budget Option

1. Lifeboost Medium Roast: Best Overall

Grata Medium Roast

We often talk about Lifeboost here and for good reason.

Their Medium Roast is a top pick for us.

What sets Lifeboost apart is how they source their coffee – it comes exclusively from small family farms in Nicaragua.

The coffee is grown under the shade and sun-dried, which contributes to its unique quality.

When you try the Grata Medium Roast, you’ll notice its creamy, nutty flavor, complemented by a subtle hint of dried fruits.

But there’s more to Lifeboost than great taste.

Their coffee is certified organic and single-origin, making it a healthier choice.

It’s up to 27.7% less acidic than many common store-bought coffees.

Plus, it’s USDA Certified Organic and rigorously tested for a whole range of toxins, including mycotoxins and heavy metals, ensuring it’s as pure as it gets.

Lifeboost doesn’t just focus on quality; they also emphasize freshness by roasting their beans in small batches.

This attention to detail does mean their coffee comes at a higher price, but they offer a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.

In our opinion, Lifeboost is probably the best Fair Trade coffee brand out there.

Its low acidity and delightful taste make the Lifeboost Medium Roast a favorite among our readers.


  • High-Quality Beans: Sourced from small family farms in Nicaragua.
  • Unique Flavor: Shade-grown and sun-dried for a creamy, nutty taste with hints of dried fruit.
  • Health-Friendly: 27.7% less acidic than standard coffees.
  • Certified Organic: USDA Certified and free from a wide range of toxins.
  • Small Batch Roasting: Ensures freshness and rich flavor.
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 60-day return policy for customer satisfaction.


  • Higher Price: More expensive compared to regular store-bought coffees.

2. Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling Coffee: Runner-Up

Sumatra Mandheling Coffee - USDA Organic

We often recommend Volcanica Coffee on our site for its exceptional quality.

Volcanica stands out as a specialty importer of gourmet coffee that’s Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and shade-grown certified.

Their beans are 100% Arabica and free from chemicals and pesticides.

A standout choice is their Sumatra Mandheling Coffee, a rare Indonesian variety known for its smooth, rich body, and low acidity.

It boasts an exotic flavor with an intense syrupy aftertaste and a unique earthy richness.

Expect notes of toffeenut, hibiscus, sandalwood, nuts, and earthy tones – a truly one-of-a-kind brew.

Its unique taste comes from a special wet-hulled processing method and a unique fermentation process.

For those sensitive to acid, Sumatra Mandheling is ideal.

It’s naturally low in acid, and a longer roasting time reduces its acidic components further, resulting in a higher pH.

This means you get a smooth coffee without the bitter aftertaste.

However, there are a couple of drawbacks.

Similar to Lifeboost, Volcanica’s offerings, including the Sumatra Mandheling, are on the pricey side.

Also, it’s a medium roast but leans towards the milder side.

If you’re a fan of a more robust, intense coffee, this might feel a bit lacking in bite.


  • Exceptional Quality: Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and shade-grown certified.
  • 100% Arabica Beans: Free from chemicals and pesticides.
  • Unique Flavor Profile: Smooth, rich body with low acidity, featuring notes of toffeenut, hibiscus, and sandalwood.
  • Rare Indonesian Variety: Offers a unique coffee experience with an intense syrupy aftertaste.
  • Low Acid Content: Naturally lower in acid, further reduced by longer roasting times.
  • Suitable for Acid Sensitivity: Higher pH level, ideal for those who want coffee without bitterness.


  • Higher Price Point: More expensive compared to other standard coffees.
  • Milder Medium Roast: This may not satisfy those who prefer a robust and intense coffee flavor.

3. Kicking Horse Coffee Smart Ass Medium Roast: Best Aroma


If you need a real jolt to start your day, Kicking Horse Coffee’s Smart Ass could be your perfect match.

This coffee is organic, Fairtrade, and roasted in the Rocky Mountains, bringing a cheeky, bright, and lively character to your morning cup.

Sourced from hand-picked Arabica beans in Central and South America, this medium roast boasts a unique flavor profile.

You’ll taste tart red currant, sweet sugar cane, and smooth milk chocolate, all rounded off with a honeyed berry body.

Whether you prefer a French press, drip machine, pour-over, espresso, or cold brew, this coffee is versatile enough to suit any brewing method.

Based in the Canadian Rockies, this brand doesn’t just focus on flavor; they’re deeply committed to social responsibility, boasting Organic, Fair Trade, Kosher, and shade-grown certifications.

However, it’s worth noting that it’s on the pricier side.

Also, some find it a bit too dark for a typical medium roast.

If you’re after a more balanced, middle-of-the-road coffee, this might come across as too bold for your taste.


  • Organic and Fairtrade: Ensures ethical sourcing and production.
  • Unique Flavor Profile: Combination of tart red currant, sugar cane, milk chocolate, and a honeyed berry body.
  • Versatile Brewing: Suitable for various brewing methods including French press, drip machine, pour-over, espresso, and cold brew.
  • Socially Responsible: Committed to social responsibility with Organic, Fair Trade, Kosher, and shade-grown certifications.
  • Roasted in the Rocky Mountains: Adds a distinct quality to the coffee.


  • Higher Price Point: More expensive compared to other coffees.
  • Potentially Overpowering for Some: Its bold profile might not appeal to those who like a more balanced coffee.

4. NO FUN JO DECAF: Best Decaf Option


If you’re aiming to reduce your caffeine intake but still want a delicious cup of coffee, NO FUN JO DECAF is an excellent choice.

This coffee is crafted with care by artisan roasters in a small-scale roastery.

It’s a medium-dark roast, available as whole beans or ground, and comes with the reassurances of being USDA-certified organic and fair trade certified.

Plus, it’s decaffeinated through the Swiss Water Process, which is a gentle, 100% chemical-free method that leaves the coffee 99.9% caffeine-free.

NO FUN JO DECAF comes in 12 oz or 2 lb bags, each with a handy resealable tin tie for easy storage.

In terms of flavor, expect professional cupping notes of sweet blueberry and milk chocolate, offering a complex and full-bodied experience without any added flavorings.

However, there are a couple of things to consider.

Firstly, it’s a bit on the pricey side, given its specialty decaffeination process.

Also, some have noted it has a bitter aftertaste and can be quite acidic, which might not appeal to those who enjoy their coffee black.


  • Artisan Crafted: Hand-crafted by artisan coffee roasters in a micro-roastery.
  • Organic and Fair Trade: USDA-certified organic and fair trade certified.
  • Swiss Water Process Decaf: 100% chemical-free decaffeination, leaving the coffee 99.9% caffeine-free.
  • Tasting Notes: Offers flavors of sweet blueberry and milk chocolate, with a complex and full body.
  • Packaging: Available in convenient 12 oz or 2 lb resealable tin-tie packages for easy storage.


  • Slightly Expensive: Higher price point due to specialty decaffeination process.
  • Potential Bitter Aftertaste: Some users report a bitter aftertaste.
  • Acidity: May be too acidic for those who prefer a smoother, less acidic coffee.

5. Tiny Footprint Coffee Nicaragua Segovia: Most Sustainable


Tiny Footprint Coffee has the unique distinction of being the world’s first carbon-negative coffee.

For every pound sold, they contribute to reforestation projects in Ecuador’s Mindo Cloud Forest.

This initiative not only removes 54 lbs of CO2 from the atmosphere for each pound sold but also creates a thriving habitat for a plethora of native plants and animals.

Their Nicaragua Segovia variety is a dark roast with a sultry and bold flavor profile, enriched with chocolate notes.

This coffee comes from family-owned farms associated with PRODECOOP, a cooperative in Nicaragua.

It stands out not just for its taste but also for its commitment to being organic, fair trade, and of course, as mentioned earlier, carbon-negative.

You can expect traditional Nicaraguan flavors like bright apricots, figs, and spice in every cup.

The beans, grown between 1,250 to 1,800 meters elevation, are a blend of Catuai, Caturra, Bourbon, and Typica varieties and are processed using a fully washed and sun-dried method.

Available in both whole bean and ground forms, Tiny Footprint Coffee is craft-roasted in a vintage Probat drum roaster, upgraded for efficiency.

This ensures a perfect roast every time.

However, do keep in mind that this high-quality coffee does come with a higher price tag.

Our testing found that while it’s on the lighter side for a dark roast, it has a slightly sweet taste with a smoky aftertaste.

Also, its acidity level might not be suitable for those with a sensitive stomach.


  • Carbon-Negative Impact: Contributes to reforestation efforts, removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Flavor Profile: Sultry, bold tones with notes of chocolate, apricot, fig, and spice.
  • Ethical Sourcing: Sourced from family-owned farms in a cooperative in Nicaragua.
  • Organic and Fair Trade: Adheres to organic and fair trade standards.
  • Quality Processing: Beans are fully washed and sun-dried, ensuring high quality.
  • Varietal Blend: A blend of Catuai, Caturra, Bourbon, and Typica varieties.
  • Craft Roasting: Roasted in a vintage, modernized Probat drum roaster for optimal quality.


  • Higher Price Point: More expensive due to its quality and ethical practices.
  • Light for a Dark Roast: Might be too light for those who prefer a traditional dark roast.
  • Smoky Aftertaste: Contains a smoky aftertaste that may not appeal to all palates.

6. Equal Exchange Organic French Roast: Best Cooperative Coffee


Equal Exchange Coffee stands out as a brand deeply committed to authentic Fair Trade.

They focus on empowering small-scale farmers and their families, aligning closely with Fair Trade standards.

Their dedication to environmental initiatives is evident, as they emphasize sustainable and safe farming practices, producing at least 98% Fair Trade organic coffee beans.

Their Organic French Roast is a standout offering.

It’s an intensely dark and full-bodied brew, with a flavor profile that includes dark chocolate, sweet and fruity notes, and a subtle hint of smokiness.

This coffee is lovingly roasted at Equal Exchange’s solar-powered facility in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

Here, their worker-owner team batch roasts and conducts daily production cuppings to ensure the best qualities of each harvest are highlighted.

French Roast is known for being one of the primary roast levels, where the natural oils of the beans are fully expressed, creating an intense, dark, and smoky experience akin to dark chocolate.

However, it’s worth noting that while the flavor is good, it might not be as strong as some coffee enthusiasts would prefer.

Some find it lacks a full-bodied feel and rich aroma.

Additionally, a slight bitterness is present in the taste, which might not appeal to everyone.


  • Commitment to Fair Trade: Focuses on empowering small-scale farmers and supporting sustainable practices.
  • High Organic Standards: Produces at least 98% Fair Trade organic coffee beans.
  • Intense Flavor Profile: Offers notes of dark chocolate, sweetness, fruitiness, and a subtle smoky taste.
  • Eco-Friendly Roasting: Roasted in a solar-powered facility, emphasizing environmental responsibility.
  • Quality Assurance: Batch roasting and daily cuppings ensure high-quality coffee in each harvest.
  • Rich Roast Level: French Roast is intensely dark, with fully expressed natural oils for a smoky experience.


  • Milder Flavor: Some may find the flavor not as strong as expected for a French Roast.
  • Slight Bitterness: The presence of a slight bitterness, which might not suit all taste preferences.

7. Allegro Coffee Organic Cafe La Duena: Women Farm Owners


Allegro Coffee’s Organic Cafe La Duena is a medium-roast blend celebrated for its balanced, sweet, and chocolaty taste.

This coffee pays homage to the women farmers in Latin America and the Pacific Rim who cultivate the organic beans used in this blend.

Allegro Coffee takes Fairtrade standards seriously, establishing long-term, supportive relationships with their small-scale farm partners.

This goes beyond just fair pricing; they provide financial support and share best agricultural practices.

This effort is part of their commitment to helping these communities thrive and elevate their cultivation and production standards.

However, it’s important to note that Organic Cafe La Duena is on the higher end in terms of price.

For those who drink coffee daily, this might seem a bit expensive.

Also, while it’s described as mellow, the coffee leans towards the stronger side and comes with a bitter aftertaste.

Lastly, some customers feel that there isn’t anything particularly standout about this coffee compared to other options available.


  • Balanced Flavor: Known for its sweet and chocolaty profile.
  • Supports Women Farmers: Named to honor women farm owners who grow organic beans.
  • Fair Trade Practices: Goes beyond fair pricing by offering financial and agricultural support to partner farms.
  • Community Building: Contributes to the thriving of grower and producer communities.
  • Organic Beans: Uses high-quality organic beans from Latin America and the Pacific Rim.


  • Stronger Than Expected: Tends to be on the stronger side despite being described as mellow.
  • Bitter Aftertaste: Some users report a bitter aftertaste.
  • Perceived Lack of Uniqueness: Some customers feel the coffee doesn’t stand out in terms of special qualities.

8. Mayorga Organics Café Cubano Dark Roast: Best Dark Roast


Mayorga Organics Café Cubano Dark Roast is a Cuban-style coffee that stands out for its full-bodied cup with hints of vanilla and a sweet, syrupy smokiness, culminating in a smooth, bold finish.

It’s known for its low acidity, making it a pleasant choice for those sensitive to harsher brews.

This coffee is a signature blend of Mayorga Coffee, notable for its direct sourcing approach.

They work closely with farmers and their communities, providing specialty-grade coffees at good value and fostering long-term sustainable growth.

In addition to offering quality coffee, Mayorga supports its growers by sharing knowledge and education on better organic coffee cultivation methods.

They also assist in financing the supply chain and enhancing the efficiency of shipping products.

However, it’s important to note a few potential downsides.

If you’re a fan of very bold-flavored coffee, Café Cubano might not meet your expectations, as it’s milder and might suit those who prefer their coffee with creamer and sugar.

Also, there have been instances of customer dissatisfaction regarding the freshness of the beans, with some reporting stale beans upon arrival.

In a few cases, the packaging was even found to be open upon delivery.


  • Rich Flavor Profile: Offers hints of vanilla and a sweet, syrupy smokiness.
  • Smooth and Bold Finish: Known for its smooth, bold finish with low acidity.
  • Direct Sourcing: Sourced directly from farmers, supporting communities and sustainable growth.
  • Educational Support to Farmers: Provides knowledge on cultivating organic coffee and efficient supply chain management.
  • Specialty-Grade Coffee: Delivers high-quality coffee at a good value.


  • Mild for a Dark Roast: This may not satisfy those looking for a very bold flavor.
  • Freshness Concerns: Some reports of the beans being stale upon arrival.
  • Packaging Issues: Instances of packaging arriving open, compromising bean quality.

9. Ethical Bean Lush Medium Dark Roast: Most Flavorful


Ethical Bean’s Lush Medium Dark Roast offers a striking balance of acidity, body, and roast, making it a standout medium-dark roast coffee.

It embodies the classic coffee profile with flavor notes that include fruit, smoke, and earth, which come alive after roasting.

To ensure freshness and maintain the natural flavors, each bag of whole coffee beans comes with a convenient pull tab for opening and a zip lock seal for resealing after use.

Made from premium 100% Arabica beans, this coffee is seasonally sourced from farmers.

Ethical Bean Coffee is committed to fair trade practices, proudly guaranteeing that all their coffee blends are 100% Fairtrade-certified.

Since 2003, they have championed Fairtrade to make sure growers earn a sustainable profit from their coffee production.

Additionally, their producers benefit from Fairtrade premiums, which support vital community projects like healthcare, education, environmental sustainability, and more.

However, there are a few points to consider.

Despite being labeled as a medium-dark roast, it tends to lean more towards a medium roast, which might not fully satisfy those who love a true dark roast’s deeper flavor.

There’s also a noticeable level of acidity, which may not be ideal for those with sensitive stomachs.

Lastly, this coffee is a bit on the pricey side.


  • Balanced Profile: Well-balanced in acidity, body, and roast.
  • Rich Flavor Notes: Features a mix of fruit, smoke, and earthy tones.
  • Freshness-Focused Packaging: Comes with a pull tab and zip lock seal for freshness.
  • High-Quality Beans: Made from premium 100% Arabica coffee beans.
  • Fairtrade-Certified: Ensures ethical sourcing and support for farmers.
  • Community Support: Fairtrade premiums aid in vital community projects.


  • Roast Level: Tends to be more medium than dark, which might not appeal to dark roast lovers.
  • Acidity: Noticeable acidity, potentially unsuitable for sensitive stomachs.
  • Price: Considered to be somewhat expensive.

10. Amazon Fresh Organic Fair Trade Peru: Best Budget Option


If you’re curious about Fair Trade-certified coffee but don’t want to break the bank, Amazon’s Fresh Organic Fair Trade Peru Coffee is a great, budget-friendly option.

This coffee is a medium roast, made from high-quality 100% Arabica beans grown in the lush regions of Peru.

It’s not only Fair Trade certified but also USDA Organic.

This means the coffee is sourced and prepared thoughtfully, with an emphasis on bringing out rich aromas and robust layers of flavor.

This Peruvian blend boasts an inviting aroma, sweet taste, and smooth finish, with delightful hints of brown sugar and chocolate.

It’s roasted and packaged in the USA, ensuring each cup is as fresh as possible.

Additionally, if you find yourself enjoying this brew regularly, Amazon offers a “subscribe and save” option, which can help you save a bit more money.

And if it’s not to your liking, they provide a money-back guarantee.

However, it’s worth noting that this coffee might not hit the mark for everyone.

It’s identified as being on the lighter side for a medium roast, which could be too mild for those who prefer their coffee bold and rich.

Also, the flavor profile is relatively basic, which might not appeal to those seeking a more complex or unique coffee experience.


  • Affordable: A budget-friendly option for Fair Trade-certified coffee.
  • High-Quality Beans: Made from 100% Arabica beans.
  • Certifications: Fair Trade certified and USDA Organic.
  • Flavor Profile: Features a sweet flavor with hints of brown sugar and chocolate.
  • Freshness: Roasted and packed in the USA for optimal freshness.
  • Convenient Purchasing Options: Offers a “subscribe and save” option for regular buyers.
  • Money-Back Guarantee: Provides reassurance for new customers.


  • Mild for a Medium Roast: May be too light for those who prefer bolder coffee.
  • Basic Flavor Profile: Lacks complexity, which might not appeal to connoisseurs seeking unique flavors.

Fair Trade Coffee Buyer’s Guide: Key Factors to Consider

When it comes to buying fair trade coffee, there are several key factors to consider to ensure that you’re getting a high-quality product that aligns with ethical and sustainable practices.

This guide will help you navigate the important aspects of selecting the best fair-trade coffee brands.

Understanding Fair Trade Certification

What Is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade certification is designed to support sustainable practices and fair wages for farmers.

When you buy coffee with this certification, you’re supporting a system that gives coffee producers fair compensation and working conditions.

It’s important to understand the certification process and the standards each certifying body upholds.

Certification Bodies

Look for labels from recognized certifying organizations like Fairtrade International or the Fair Trade Federation.

These bodies ensure that coffee producers adhere to strict environmental and social standards.

Quality of Coffee Beans

Bean Type

Arabica and Robusta are the two main types of coffee beans.

Arabica is generally favored for its smoother, more complex flavors, while Robusta is more bitter but has a higher caffeine content.

Knowing your preference in taste can guide your choice.

Roast Profile

Roast levels vary from light to dark.

Light roasts retain more of the bean’s original flavor, while dark roasts have a stronger, more robust taste.

Your preference in flavor profile – whether you enjoy fruity, acidic notes or a deep, smoky flavor – will influence your choice.

Origin and Blend

Single-Origin vs. Blend

Single-origin coffee comes from one geographic location and offers unique flavor profiles typical of that region.

Blends combine beans from different origins, providing a balanced taste.

Your choice here depends on whether you prefer exploring distinct regional flavors or enjoying a consistent taste.

Flavor Notes

Each coffee has distinct flavor notes ranging from fruity and floral to nutty and chocolatey.

Choose based on the flavors you enjoy most in your coffee.

Freshness and Packaging

Roasting Date

Coffee is best enjoyed fresh.

Look for brands that provide the roasting date on the packaging.

Coffee should ideally be consumed within a few months of its roasting date for optimal flavor.

Packaging Quality

Good packaging preserves the freshness of coffee.

Look for packages with a one-way valve, which releases gas while preventing air from entering, thus keeping the coffee fresh.

Sustainability and Ethical Practices

Environmental Impact

Consider how the coffee is grown.

Shade-grown coffee, for instance, is typically more sustainable as it promotes biodiversity and requires fewer pesticides.

Supporting Communities

Learn about the brand’s involvement in the coffee-growing communities.

Some brands go beyond fair pricing and invest in community projects like education and healthcare.

Price and Value

Fairtrade coffee might come at a premium, but remember that you’re investing in ethical and sustainable practices.

Weigh the cost against the quality and the benefits provided to the coffee-growing communities.

Personal Taste and Preference

Many brands offer sample packs, allowing you to try different roasts and origins.

This can be a great way to determine your preferences without committing to a full-sized bag.

Brand Reputation and Reviews

Look for reviews and recommendations, either online or from coffee enthusiasts.

A brand’s reputation often speaks volumes about the quality and consistency of their product.

Is Organic Coffee Healthier?

Organic coffee is often perceived as healthier, primarily due to how it’s cultivated.

Grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, organic coffee reduces your exposure to chemicals that might be present in conventionally grown beans.

This cultivation method is also considered better for the environment, promoting soil health and biodiversity.

While the health benefits of organic coffee versus non-organic coffee can vary and are subject to ongoing research, many consumers report a better taste and a gentler impact on their digestive system, possibly due to lower pesticide residues.

How Organic Coffee is Cultivated

Organic coffee cultivation is a process that prioritizes natural and eco-friendly practices, eschewing synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides.

This process involves several key steps:

  • Soil Management: Organic coffee thrives on land untouched by synthetic pesticides or harmful substances for at least three years. Sustainable practices like crop rotation, composting, and terracing are employed to prevent erosion and sustain soil health.
  • Natural Fertilization: The focus here is on using renewable resources and conserving soil to enhance environmental quality. Organic matter, such as compost, is the primary source of nutrients for coffee plants.
  • Pest and Disease Management: Instead of synthetic pesticides, organic farming promotes the use of natural predators and fosters a crop environment that’s more resistant to pests and diseases.
  • Harvesting and Processing: The beans are harvested and processed without artificial chemicals or synthetics. The specific methods, such as wet or dry processing, depend on the location and available local resources.

Organic coffee farming offers numerous advantages like environmental preservation, soil and water conservation, ensuring the well-being of farm workers, and producing high-quality coffee.

However, transitioning from conventional to organic farming can be a challenging process, often requiring significant changes in farm management practices.

How Does Fair Trade Coffee Help Farmers?

Fair Trade coffee plays a crucial role in supporting coffee farmers by ensuring they receive fair prices for their crops, which helps them maintain a sustainable livelihood.

This system establishes a minimum price, protecting farmers from volatile market fluctuations and often providing them with a higher income than conventional markets.

Additionally, Fair Trade premiums are invested back into the community, funding vital projects like healthcare, education, and agricultural improvements.

This model also promotes better working conditions and environmentally sustainable farming practices.

By choosing Fair Trade coffee, consumers directly contribute to the empowerment of farmers and the development of their communities, fostering an environment where coffee cultivation can thrive both economically and socially.

Is Fair Trade Coffee Better for the Environment?

Fair Trade coffee often has a more positive impact on the environment compared to conventionally grown coffee.

The standards set by Fair Trade certification typically emphasize sustainable farming practices.

These include restricting the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers, encouraging biodiversity, and promoting the conservation of natural resources like water and soil.

By fostering an eco-friendly approach to agriculture, Fair Trade practices contribute to a healthier ecosystem.

Additionally, since Fair Trade also focuses on social sustainability, it encourages farmers to adopt practices that are not only good for the environment but also beneficial for their communities.

Therefore, by supporting Fair Trade coffee, consumers are indirectly contributing to environmental conservation efforts.

Origins and Growth of Fair Trade Coffee

Fair Trade coffee has its roots in a movement that started in Holland in 1988.

It began with small-scale farmer cooperatives in Mexico and a Dutch NGO, Solidaridad, which spearheaded the first fair trade certification initiative.

This concept quickly gained momentum, leading to the establishment of TransFair International in Germany in 1992.

Initially focused on coffee, this certification gradually expanded to encompass other products like tea, sugar, and cocoa.

In the United States, Fair Trade USA was established in 1998, further promoting this sustainable trade model.

Today, fair trade is recognized as a leading model for sustainable production and trade, integrating responsible consumption practices.

The reach of fair trade coffee is global, with significant contributions from countries like Brazil, Peru, Honduras, Vietnam, Colombia, and Indonesia, each offering unique flavors and characteristics in their coffee beans.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Fairtrade?

While Fairtrade has many benefits, it also comes with certain disadvantages.

One of the primary concerns is the cost, both for producers and consumers.

The certification process can be expensive for farmers, and the costs are often passed onto consumers in the form of higher prices.

Additionally, the stringent criteria for certification can be challenging for some producers to meet, potentially excluding smaller or struggling farms.

There’s also criticism that the benefits of Fairtrade are sometimes unevenly distributed, with more advantages accruing to larger producers or cooperatives.

Moreover, the focus on specific commodities like coffee or chocolate may lead to over-reliance on these crops, potentially impacting the diversity of local agriculture.

These drawbacks highlight the complexity of implementing fair trade practices and the need for ongoing assessment and improvement of the system.

Understanding the Difference Between Fair Trade and Fairtrade

Although often used interchangeably, ‘Fair trade’ and ‘Fairtrade’ actually refer to two distinct concepts.

‘Fair trade’ (spelled as two words) is a broad term that encompasses a variety of ethical trading principles, the fair trade movement, and products that are fairly traded.

It’s a general concept covering a range of practices in ethical trade.

In contrast, ‘Fairtrade’ (one word) specifically refers to a certification system managed by Fairtrade International.

Products bearing the Fairtrade Mark indicate adherence to strict social, economic, and environmental standards, verified by independent audits conducted by FLOCERT.

‘Fairtrade’ is a protected term, meaning only certified products can display the Fairtrade Mark.

This certification system lays down specific criteria that must be met for certification, such as ensuring fair prices, safe working conditions, access to credit for producers, and fostering stronger relationships between buyers and sellers.

The Verdict: What Is The Best Fair Trade Coffee?

After careful consideration, we’ve selected Lifeboost Medium Roast as the best Fair Trade coffee for its exceptional balance of ethical sourcing, flavor, and health benefits.

It stands out for its low acidity, premium organic quality, and support of small-scale Nicaraguan farmers.

The unique shade-grown and sun-dried process, along with rigorous testing for toxins, ensures a pure and rich coffee experience.

As our Runner-Up, Volcanica’s Sumatra Mandheling Coffee offers a distinct and exotic flavor profile, making it a standout choice.

Sourced from the rich soils of Indonesia, this coffee is celebrated for its smooth, full-bodied taste with hints of dried fruit and chocolate.

While slightly more robust than Lifeboost, it maintains high standards of fair trade and organic practices, offering an indulgent yet responsible choice for coffee aficionados.


Is fair trade coffee better quality?

Fair trade coffee often signifies better quality due to the stringent standards set for certification, which include sustainable and ethical farming practices.

These practices can lead to a higher quality coffee bean.

However, taste and quality can be subjective and also depend on individual preferences, the origin of the beans, and the roasting processes.

How can you tell if coffee is Fairtrade?

To determine if coffee is Fair trade, look for the official Fairtrade Mark on the packaging.

This symbol is an internationally recognized label that indicates the product meets rigorous social, economic, and environmental standards set by Fairtrade International.

Which instant coffee is Fairtrade?

Several brands offer Fairtrade certified instant coffee.

Some popular options include Café Direct, Mount Hagen, and Kicking Horse Coffee.

These brands are widely recognized for their commitment to Fair Trade principles and offer a variety of instant coffee options.

Which country produces the most Fairtrade coffee?

Countries in Latin America, such as Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, are among the top producers of Fairtrade coffee.

However, the landscape of Fairtrade coffee production is dynamic, with contributions from various countries across Africa and Asia as well.

Does Starbucks use Fairtrade coffee?

Starbucks has its own ethical sourcing program called C.A.F.E. Practices (Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices), which aligns with many principles of Fairtrade but is not formally Fairtrade certified.

Starbucks does offer some Fairtrade-certified products, but the majority of their coffee is sourced through their C.A.F.E. Practices program.

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Jacob Harris

Jacob is a coffee enthusiast who turned his passion into a career. As the owner and editor of Karma Coffee Cafe, he shares his extensive knowledge and recommendations, captivating fellow coffee lovers.

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