By October 16, 2004 Read Article
Fair Trade Certified Coffee

Fair Trade Amplifications and Corrections

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.

Posted in: Coffee News

About the Author:

Kenneth Davids is a coffee expert, author and co-founder of Coffee Review. He has been involved with coffee since the early 1970s and has published three books on coffee, including the influential Home Roasting: Romance and Revival, now in its second edition, and Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying, which has sold nearly 250,000 copies over five editions. His workshops and seminars on coffee sourcing, evaluation and communication have been featured at professional coffee meetings on six continents.

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