Dear Coffee Drinker,
“Fair Trade” is a certification that is given primarily to a company that can prove, together with a specific coffee farm, that fair prices are being given to the independent farm. These are certifications that are primarily being marketed in the USA by a firm in California. For example, StarBucks may promote a certain type of coffee that is being sold as Fair Trade coffee. Not all their coffee can be sold as such because this only applies to a very few farms that hold these certifications together with the buyer. This needs to be proven to the agencies in the United States that govern this certification. Even though StarBucks sells one type of coffee that is certified Fair Trade this does not mean that all their coffee is certified. This would be an impossible task. The biggest problem is most US companies only pay the farmer or roaster Fair Trade and then they have to trust that the roaster is passing this extra money to the laborers. So the farmer gets a fair price but the laborers, many times children work for pennies a day.AND FAIR TRADE – However does not ensure that children are not used to pick coffee or that the children are given a fair price. Neither does it ensure that the migrate farm laborers are paid fair prices. Fair Trade has been great in elevating people’s awareness of the coffee industry and has ensured that the coffee farmer and or roaster is getting a fair price and to a lesser extend some farmers but it has not always helped the people actually picking the coffee and completing the other coffee labor. Worse it has allowed the bigger farmers to make more money buying up the smaller farmers and making more money while the labor pool suffers. The going rate for labor has not increased in five years while Fair Trade Coffee prices have doubled. So whats fair about the owner making more while the laborers still suffer.
Worse Fair Trade has become so popular that it elevated many “bad or poor” coffees into popoluar brands – not because they taste good but because they have become Fair Trade – as that has any correlation to taste. Sadlty Fair Trade only means the large land owner gets more money.
Costa Rica on the other hand has a different system than most coffee producing countries. The coffee you purchased is from one of the best regions of coffee in the world, known as Tarrazu Costa Rica. There is a cooperative in Tarrazu known as CoopeTarrazu. StarBucks is a large buyer of CoopeTarrazu’s coffee. CoopeTarrazu owns 25% of our company. CoopeTarrazu in turn is owned by approximately 1500 small to medium sized independent farms. The function of CoopeTarrazu is to get the best price for the coffees that these 1500 plus farms turn into this processing plant as a group. The profits are then divided and paid to each farmer based on his percentage interest or the amount of product supplied to CoopeTarrazu by him. The entire process is governed by the Government of Costa Rica. The overseeing body is known as ICAFE. It regulates all coffee that is processed and exported from Costa Rica. ICAFE’s watchful eye makes sure that the independent farms are receiving fair market prices for the coffee they turn into CoopeTarrazu. Not only does Costa Rica have some of the best coffee in the world it also is some of the most expensive coffee in the world. The reason for this is directly linked to ICAFE’s involvement in the coffee industry within Costa Rica. It makes sure that the farmers are receiving fair prices for their coffee. Our plant is registered with ICAFE for this reason. This proves that we are part of the system that makes sure our coffee is truly Fair Trade coffee even though we are not certified by the USA body known as Fair Trade. We are also owned by 3 other cooperatives in Costa Rica – CoopeVictoria, CoopePalmares, and CoopeSabalito. In other words we work with more than 8000 small farmers. Each cooperative has a significant % share in our roasting plant and these are the sources from which we draw upon for our raw product, our green bean.
There are some other functions of ICAFE, which works very closely with the Minister of Health, the Minister of Children, and the Minister of Labor. For example, ICAFE also makes sure that the Indians that come in from the jungles of Panama and Nicaragua to pick coffee during the harvest season are paid fair wages, given health insurance, and proper housing accommodations during the harvest season. They also work closely to make sure there is no exploitation of children and adult workers. Costa Rica is very much into protecting the less fortunate and overseeing their rights. This is another reason why we are proud members of ICAFE.
So if you want to make a statement and buy a coffee really making a difference – buy a Costa Rica coffee.
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