Date: October 2004

Column/Title: Fair Trade Amplifications and Corrections

Author: Kenneth Davids


Our last two review articles (Ethiopia and Kenya: The World's Most Distinctive Coffees, October 2004, and The Fair-Trade Cup: Quality and Controversy, September 2004) contained three inaccuracies in regard to Fair-Trade coffees.

In the September Fair-Trade article we wrote that in North America Fair-Trade-certified coffees are available from only three non-Latin-American origins: Sumatra, the Yirgacheffe/Sidamo region of Ethiopia, and the Harrar region of Ethiopia, and furthermore that these coffees have been available here for only two years. Beth Ann Caspersen, Quality Control Officer for Equal Exchange, a distinguished green coffee dealer and roasting company, points out that, in fact, there are three additional Fair-Trade origins available in North America: East Timor, Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania. Beth Ann goes on to write that: "non-Latin American Fair Trade coffees have been sold on the U.S. market for much longer than two years. We at Equal Exchange have been offering Fair Trade Tanzanian since 1996 and Fair Trade Sumatran since 1997. I believe others have also been importing some of these Fair Trade non-LA origins before 2002." She concludes with a plug for Fair Trade: "I would also like to point out to your readers the great success Fair Trade producers had at the recent Nicaraguan Cup of Excellence competition where Fair Trade cooperatives took 5 of the top 10 spots, including the best organic, Fair Trade coffee in the competition."

In the same story we identified the excellent, 88-rated Organic/Fair-Trade Sumatra from Capricorn Coffees in San Francisco as Gayo Mountain. David Kastle of Royal Coffee California points out that it should have been identified (as it was on the bag) as a Gayoland Sumatra. A small detail, perhaps, but no Gayo Mountain coffees are available as Fair-Trade certified, whereas those marketed as Gayoland are.

Finally, in our October review we described the 90-rated Ethiopia Yirgacheffe from Cafe Campesino as certified both organic and Fair-Trade. It definitely is certified organic, but it is not Fair-Trade certified. While the green coffee contained in the bag may be sourced from a co-op on the Fair Trade Register, Cafe Campesino itself is not a Fair-Trade licensee, so the roasted coffee can neither be labeled nor described as Fair-Trade certified. In order to qualify for Fair-Trade certification, all of the parties involved, from grower through roaster, must maintain certification.

2004 The Coffee Review. All rights reserved.