15 Fair Trade Coffee Brands Worth Waking Up For
Fair Trade Coffee For Your Morning Cup
As a massive commodity—particularly in the West—the coffee bean industry is one of the largest sites of forced labor around the world. The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 150+ million child slaves working to produce many of our everyday purchases such as coffee and cocoa.
And forced laborers have little or no rights. They are exploited for their work, and forced to endure long hours with little or no pay. These workers are also often exposed to dangerous chemical fertilizers and pesticides, causing them to contract lifelong health conditions.
When we choose to buy fair trade, we are casting a vote for the ethical treatments of the laborers who are responsible for our daily coffee. These fair trade coffee brands have made it an integral part of their mission to develop lasting, mutually beneficial partnerships by employing fair trade and direct trade practices with the farmers who cultivate their crops. Here’s to drinking world-changing cups of coffee.
Ethics | Fair trade, certified B Corp, re-invests up to 50 percent of profits, gives back Location | London, UK Where to Buy | Online or at stockists
Cafédirect tops our list for its holistic commitment to quality. Celebrating more than 30 years of impact, the team has given back over £30 million to its growers along the way, building long-term partnerships and holding face-to-face meetings. The brand has also earned Fair Trade and Gold Standard certifications for its treatment of people and planet. Best yet, we love that Cafédirect invests half of its profits into Producers Direct, a UK nonprofit working with farmers to improve sustainability and livelihoods.
2. Equal Exchange
Ethics | Worker-owned cooperative, fair trade, USDA certified organic coffee Location | St. Paul, MN Where to Buy | Online or at stockists, like Target
Equal Exchange has been brewing great coffee for over 30 years. Back then, the team asked: What if food could be traded in a way that is honest and fair, in a way that empowers both farmers and consumers? The answer was to start a business that was worker-owned. Today, its co-op has over 130 workers/owners, and each holds an equal share and voting rights within the business. Thanks to this unique focus on ethics, Equal Exchange consistently gets top marks for its care for people and planet.
3. Higher Ground Roasters
Higher Ground Roasters is dedicated to providing the finest coffees the world has to offer, fresh, to everyone. To make that happen, the team roasts exclusively 100 percent certified organic and Fair Trade beans. Higher Ground also purchases wind power credits to help subsidize wind farms and offset its daily carbon use. Perhaps most importantly, the team gives back, too, via nonprofits like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Cahaba River Society. From the farm to the cup, the brand goes above and beyond in every sense.
4. Grumpy Mule
Ethics | Fair trade, organic, gives back, supports environmental initiatives Location | Yorkshire, UK Where to Buy | Online
Grumpy Mule is pretty stubborn when it comes to ethics. Short-term sustainability is easier to achieve, yet the Mule has opted for long-term standards that drive its roasting and sourcing practices. In response, the brand has earned fair trade and organic certifications for its products to ensure that every brew has a conscious story. These guys are really coffee nerds and you’ll see that passion throughout this playful brand. And don’t sleep on the top-notch online guides to various coffee brewing methods.
5. BLK + Bold
Ethics | Fair Trade certified, gives back to youth-centered causes Location | Des Moines, IA Where to Buy | Online or at stockists like Target
BLK + Bold, based out of Des Moines, is about so much more than coffee and tea. As you pick up a Fair Trade certified bag of beans sourced from coffee capitols like Honduras and Ethiopia, you’re also giving back. Five percent of BLK + Bold’s profits support youth-focused initiatives like teen homelessness and workforce development opportunities. If you’re a daily brewer, you can also sign up for a regular coffee subscription, with just one dollar added for shipping. Kickstart your day and the future of youth across the country.
6. Wandering Bear Coffee
Ethics | USDA certified organic, Fair Trade certified, recyclable packaging Location | New York City, NY Where To Buy | Online or at stockists
Wandering Bear operates from the fundamental belief that we all deserve great coffee—and the team delivers, in more ways than one. Its cold brews, for example, are smooth and strong, so you can jumpstart your morning with a café-worthy brew in the comfort of your own home. These single-serve cold brews are great for on-the-go mornings. Or try the cold brew on tap—with this innovative and sustainable way of storing coffee, you’re guaranteed the freshest cup.
7. Made by DWC
Ethics | Fair trade, made in small batches, social enterprise, gives back Location | Los Angeles, CA Where to Buy | Online
Made by DWC is a social enterprise dedicated to empowering women and breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness through employment, one of our team’s favorite organizations to support! And the beloved LA-based org now offers coffee as well, thoughtfully sourced and made in small batches. There are two roasts to pick from, Uganda and Papua New Guinea, but both are sure to be delicious. Profits support Made by DWC’s career and mentorship programs, so you’ll feel and do good.
Ethics | Fair trade, certified organic, eco-friendly practices & packaging, gives back, made in small batches Location | Post Falls, ID Where to Buy | Online or at stockists like Albertsons
A member of Cooperative Coffees, DOMA coffee is certified organic through the state of Idaho and fairly traded through direct relationships. The brand is fairly eco-friendly, too: Most notably, the team uses an eco-friendly roaster, which conserves 80 percent natural gas over more traditional roasters. As DOMA has grown its footprint, it has also formed partnerships with several community organizations and non-profits to give back.
9. Stumptown Roasters
Ethics | Direct trade, some certified organic Location | Portland, OR Where to Buy | Online, at Stumptown cafes, or at stockists
Stumptown has helped shape Portland as a coffee destination city for its purist approach to quality. This same attention to detail has also driven its approach to ethics. Stumptown employs direct trade sourcing which means the focus is on developing relationships and transparency (you can read about each of its producers here). Renowned around the world, Stumptown’s products and attention to detail carry the commitments of a company that is making the world a better place.
10. Rise Up Coffee Roasters
Ethics | Fair Trade certified, USDA certified organic, made in small batches Location | Easton, MD Where to Buy | Online, at Maryland cafes, or at stockists
Rise Up Coffee was founded by Tom Cureton after a caffeine-inspired trip home from Peace Corp service, and has grown from a small coffee truck to dozens of team members with a love of java. Rise Up’s coffee is rooted in its love for their farmers, and it roasts the certified organic and Fair Trade beans in small batches for the perfect artisanal brew. You can visit the home of Rise Up for a cup in a few personality-packed locations throughout Maryland.
11. Pura Vida Coffee
Ethics | Fair Trade certified, USDA certified organic, shade-grown, gives back Location | Seattle, WA Where to Buy | Online
Pura Vida was one of the first brands to sell exclusively Fair Trade coffee and has since added certifications for shade-grown and organic practices across its products. This is coupled with a strong commitment to giving back, via its sister nonprofit supporting at-risk children through education and health initiatives. Available for your office or home, Pura Vida also offers a decaf house blend!
12. Larry’s Coffee
Larry’s Coffee is a member of Cooperative Coffees holding organic, fair trade and B corp certifications. Larry’s brand and products have the homegrown personality that you would expect from a Raleigh, NC company, but also a quixotic activism that has fueled the team to run sustainably with bio fuels and rainwater. Plus, it’s actively exploring renewable energy practices, eco-friendly packaging, and more—all for the best brew. And yes, you can find decaf espresso for lattes, au laits, and everything in between.
13. Café Mam
Ethics | Fair Trade certified, USDA certified organic, shade-grown, biodegradable packaging, supports indigenous famers in Mexican co-ops Location | Eugene, OR Where to Buy | Online or at stockists
Café Mam sources certified Fair Trade and organic beans, all grown by cooperatives of native Mayan farmers living in the highlands of Chiapas. Over the years, the family-owned brand has built a serious following with customers that swear by both quality and consistency in these products. Cafe Mam thrives on the idea that coffee doesn’t need more glossy brands; it needs more authentic passion for quality and care.
14. Allegro Coffee
Ethics | Fair trade, USDA certified organic Location | Thornton, CO Where to Buy | Online or at Whole Foods
Allegro’s blends ensure that farmers and workers are given fair pay and work under fair labor conditions. It also promotes organic growing methods, which guarantee that beans are grown without toxic chemicals. Alongside its commitment to people and the planet, the team has continued to perfect the time-honored, artisanal traditions that make its coffee one of the most flavorful you can find. As the in-house brand for Whole Foods, Allegro is accessible in stores nationwide.
15. Conscious Coffees
Ethics | Certified B Corp, organic, fair trade, beyond living wages Location | Boulder, CO Where to Buy | Online or at stockists
Conscious Coffees is a certified B Corporation that only buys beans grown on small family farms that are collectively self-organized into cooperatives—some of which are in Uganda, the Congo, and Ethiopia. The team is committed to educating consumers, too, about the social, environmental, and economic impacts of harvesting, roasting, and trading coffee. In 2021, Conscious Coffees was deemed a Best for the World winner out of the thousands of certified B Corps out there. Enjoy sipping on this silky smooth coffee.
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