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10 of the Best Fair Trade Coffee Options To Make a Difference

Where your coffee comes from matters. Not only for a good cup of coffee but also so you can support small coffee farmers who are often underpaid. There are a ton of great fair trade coffee options to choose from, no matter what your preference.

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Here at Roasty Coffee, we love our coffee. Well if you’re reading this, you probably do, too! And it’s actually one of the world’s most favored beverages, as over 110 million bags of coffee are produced every year!

We know what you’re thinking, that’s a lot of coffee. That’s why it’s important to consider where you get your coffee from and how that decision can support small coffee farmers worldwide.

Choosing to buy fair trade coffee is a great decision and one we support wholeheartedly. But it can be easier said than done, especially when you face the hundreds of different brands on the market today.

So, to help you choose the best fair trade coffee in the industry, we’ve gathered everything you need to make your decision.

At a Glance: Best Fair Trade Coffee

Best Fair Trade Coffee

Quick Summary: Best Fair Trade Coffee

rc2-table__imageLifeboost Medium Roast Coffee
  • Hand-Picked, Spring Water Washed, Sun Dried
  • 3rd Party Tested for Mycotoxins, Heavy Metals, Pesticides + 400 Other Toxins
  • Single Origin, 100% Arabica Bean
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rc2-table__imageAtomic House Blend
  • Sweet & Smooth
  • Nut, Milk Chocolate, Ripe Fruit
  • Medium Roast
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rc2-table__imageDrink Coffee Do Stuff Peru Rutas Del Inca
  • Medium Roast
  • Milk Chocolate, Nut, Ripe Fruit
  • Chocolaty & Sweet
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rc2-table__imageBean & Bean Guatemala MWP Decaf
  • Medium Roast
  • Sweet & Inviting
  • Brown Sugar, Ripe Fruit, Sweet Vanilla
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rc2-table__imageEquator Nicaragua Flor De Dalia Natural
  • Light Roast
  • Funky & Fruity
  • Ripe Fruit, Citrus, Nut
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rc2-table__imageBird Rock Suyusama Program
  • Light-Medium Roast
  • Sweet & Inviting
  • Sweet Vanilla, Ripe Fruit, Milk Chocolate
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rc2-table__imageCity of Saints Sumatra Sare Ate Gr1. Dark Roast
  • Medium-Dark Roast
  • Comforting & Rich
  • Spice, Milk Chocolate, Roastiness
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rc2-table__imageWonderstate Organic Off Grid
  • Extra-Dark Roast
  • Roasty & Smoky
  • Roastiness, Milk Chocolate, Brown Sugar
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rc2-table__imageGeorge Howell Alchemy
  • Medium Roast
  • Syrupy & Smooth
  • Nut, Milk Chocolate, Spice
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rc2-table__imageRed Rooster Old Crow Cuppa Joe
  • Medium Roast
  • Balanced & Fruity
  • Berry Fruit, Milk Chocolate, Sweet Vanilla
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Why Choose Fair Trade Coffee?

Every time you buy fair trade coffee, you’re helping small-scale farmers and promoting sustainable production of the finest coffee through fair trade organizations.

Also, when coffee farmers are paid fairly, they don’t need to plant more coffee crops and cut down precious forests in the process to meet the growing demand for coffee worldwide.

Despite being one of the most consumed drinks in the world, 44 percent of smallholder coffee farmers live in poverty, with 22 percent living in extreme poverty. Moreover, if crop diseases affect their farms, then their lives are even more at stake.

Coffee farmers in the Americas, particularly in coffee-dense nations like Peru, also lack agricultural technology to help them make farming easier. Despite these hardships, many coffee farmers in developing countries face traders who offer them below-fair wages for their labor.

When more people buy fair trade coffee, more coffee farmers benefit and realize a better quality of life for their families. This allows them to have the financial stability and independence they need. It also breaks the dangerous cycle of dependence on intermediaries who don’t act in their best interest.

What Do Fair Trade Companies Do?

There are nine major principles of the Fair Trade Federation. And all coffee brands with this certification are expected to abide by each of these values:

  • Create opportunities
  • Develop transparent and accountable business relationships with farmers
  • Build supply capacity
  • Promote fair trade
  • Pay promptly and fairly
  • Support safe working conditions
  • Ensure children’s rights are protected
  • Cultivate environmental stewardship
  • Respect cultural identity

What is the Difference Between Fair Trade and Direct Trade?

The main difference between fair trade coffee and direct trade coffee is their goals. The goal of fair trade coffee brands is to improve the lives of coffee farmers around the world. On the other hand, direct trade places a more significant focus on the quality of coffee.

Both social standards do wonders to increase the quality of the product, and they both help farmers. In direct trade sourcing, the coffee roaster buys directly from the coffee farmer, building long-term relationships.

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The Best Fair Trade Coffee

Finding the best fair trade coffee to help you power through your day may seem simple. But the reality is that this simple decision has global impacts.

This coffee aims to empower local coffee farmers to ensure they receive a greater portion of the final sale of coffee, whether this happens in coffee shops or supermarkets.

Fair trade is a certification launched to ensure that farmers are not underpaid for their labor. It aims to establish credibility, compliance, and excellence for all coffee products. So, without further ado, here are our top picks for the best free-trade coffee on the market.

Lifeboost Coffee – Medium Roast, Healthiest Coffee

Lifeboost Medium Roast Coffee
Lifeboost Medium Roast Coffee
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Lifeboosts Medium Roast blend is another blend that’s non-GMO, low in acidity, and has hints of sweet cocoa, with an undertone of a robust, woodsy flavor. The certified beans are hand-selected for purity, hand-washed, and sun-dried to remove harmful moisture content.

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If you’re looking to buy fair trade coffee, but still want to make sure that the beans you get will be a healthy option, you’ve come to the right place. Lifeboost Coffee only sells beans that have been hand-selected as the premium beans of a harvest.

Not only is this coffee cultivated by small farmers from Nicaragua, but it’s also grown slowly in mountain shade until it reaches full maturity. Lifeboost Coffee is a single-origin Arabica bean that is non-GMO, pure, low-acid, dairy-free and has zero sugars and carbs.

When these beans are selected from the mature coffee cherries, there is then a meticulous process from fermentation, to spring water washing, to drying and testing for toxins, to a perfected roasting process.

Atomic House Blend – Medium Roast, Sweet and Smooth, Trade Coffee

Atomic House Blend
Atomic House Blend
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Keep it smooth with a blend that won’t make waves. Well balanced and rich, this is uncontroversially superb coffee.

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Another medium roast option comes from Atomic through Trade Coffee. Atomic is a roaster founded by brothers Andrew and John Mahoney. This company makes sure that they stay grounded in their local relationships.

The House Blend is labeled as sweet and smooth, well-balanced and rich. These beans are washed and processed, come from an elevation of 1,200, and are roasted in Salem, MA.

The tasting notes for this blend are nut, milk chocolate, and ripe fruit. It’s stated that this medium roast is a blend of Honduras and Nicaragua, with nutty tones and a bit of acidity, as well as a smooth finish.

Drink Coffee Do Stuff Peru Rutas Del Inca – Medium Roast, Chocolatey and Sweet, Trade Coffee

Drink Coffee Do Stuff Peru Rutas Del Inca
Drink Coffee Do Stuff Peru Rutas Del Inca
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Like a bag of trail mix in a cup, this coffee’s buttery body is complimented by big notes of mixed nuts, dried fruit, and milk chocolate.

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This medium roast is made by Drink Coffee Do Stuff, which is a roaster located in Lake Tahoe, CA. The Peru Rutas Del Inca is labeled as chocolatey and sweet, it has a buttery body that’s complemented by big notes of mixed nuts, dried fruit, and milk chocolate.

These beans are washed processed and come from the Andes Mountain range of Northern Peru and the sub-region of Cajamarca at an elevation of 2,300-2,400.

The roaster’s notes indicate that this coffee is sweet, and complex, and boasts flavors of trail mix; such as brown sugar, chocolate, nut, and dried fruit.

Bean & Bean Guatemala MWP Decaf – Medium roast, Sweet and Inviting, Trade Coffee

Bean & Bean Guatemala MWP Decaf
Bean & Bean Guatemala MWP Decaf
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Velvety smooth and plenty sweet, this fabulous single origin decaf features notes of honey, apples, and caramel.

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The last honorable mention of medium roasts we have is actually a decaf option, for those who want to support fair trade, but can’t actually drink the caffeine. This coffee comes from Bean & Bean, which is a roastery located in New York that donates some of its proceeds to The Sloth Institute.

The Guatemala MWP Decaf is a sweet and inviting roast that is not only single-origin but also has tasting notes of honey, apples, caramel, orange twist, brown sugar, and sweet vanilla.

The beans go under a natural/dry process and come from the sub-region of Huehuetenango, where it’s shade-grown under guava and banana trees. The farmers from the 30 small villages there promote sustainable agriculture through organic production methods.

Equator Nicaragua Flor De Dalia Natural Fair Trade Organic – Light Roast, Funky and Fruity, Trade Coffee

Equator Nicaragua Flor De Dalia Natural Fair Trade Organic
Equator Nicaragua Flor De Dalia Natural Fair Trade Organic
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A red wine acidity permeates this naturally processed Nicaraguan cup, complemented by notes of red grape and juicy lime in addition to some creamy, nutty sweetness on the finish.

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If you’re looking for a lighter roast, you can find a great one from Equator through Trade Coffee. This roaster is located in San Rafael, CA, and is a female-founded and led company.

The Nicaragua Flor De Dalia Natural Fair Trade Organic coffee is a light roast that has a red wine acidity. The tasting notes include red grape, juicy lime, and some creamy and nutty sweetness.

The beans go through a natural/dry process and come from the sub-region of Tuma La Dalia, Matagalpa at an elevation of 4,000. The roaster also notes that this coffee includes flavors of watermelon and cashew.

Bird Rock Suyusama Program – Light Roast, Sweet and Inviting, Trade Coffee

Bird Rock Suyusama Program
Bird Rock Suyusama Program
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A creamy, butterscotch sweetness permeates this delicious cup, complemented by juicy nectarine with some floral notes lingering in the background.

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Another light roast option comes from Bird Rock, a roaster located in San Diego, CA. The Suyusama project, which has about 900 farmers, works with the idea that sustainability is a necessity to live harmoniously with the world.

The Suyusama Program is a light-medium roast that comes from the Central Andes in South America. The tasting notes are butterscotch, nectarine, floral, sweet vanilla, and milk chocolate. The beans are washed processed at an elevation of 1,800-1,900.

City of Saints Sumatra Sare Ate Gr1. Dark Roast – Comforting and Rich, Trade Coffee

City of Saints Sumatra Sare Ate Gr1. Dark Roast
City of Saints Sumatra Sare Ate Gr1. Dark Roast
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This Sumatran coffee is warm and balanced with hints of baking spice, dark chocolate, and sweet tobacco.

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If you’re into darker roasts, worry not. This fair trade coffee comes from the City of Saints, which is a roaster located in Brooklyn, NY that’s named after the city of Harar in Ethiopia.

The Sumatra Sare Ate Gr1. Dark Roast is a medium-dark roast that is warm and balanced with tasting notes of baking spice, dark/milk chocolate, sweet tobacco, and roastiness.

The beans are wet-hulled processed in Koperasi Serba Usaha Sare Ate and the sub-region Aceh Tengah at an elevation of 1,200-1,700. The Koperasi has 952 members that promote organic agriculture in order to improve their livelihoods.

Wonderstate Organic Off Grid – Dark Roast, Roasty and Smoky, Trade Coffee

Wonderstate Organic Off Grid
Wonderstate Organic Off Grid
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Prepare to heat things up. This blend holds up to longer roast times and higher temperatures. The result? A decadent cup of super rich flavors.

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This dark roast comes from Wodnerstate, a roastery in Viroqua, WI that works exclusively with growers who practice organic and sustainable production methods.

The Organic Off Grid is actually an extra-dark roast, which means it has longer roast times at higher temperatures. The tasting notes are milk chocolate, roastiness, and brown sugar.

The beans are washed processed and pushed to the roasting threshold, where the sugars caramelize, making for an extra-dark and chocolatey coffee bean.

George Howell Alchemy – Espresso Roast, Syrupy and Smooth, Trade Coffee

George Howell Alchemy
George Howell Alchemy
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Looking for an espresso for your perfect cappuccino? Dark and full-bodied with notes of chocolate and raspberry, we think you’ve found it.

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Maybe you’re actually a coffee consumer that prefers the taste of espresso. In that case, look no further than George Howell, a roaster located in Boston, MA.

The Alchemy blend is a medium espresso blend with tasting notes of chocolate, raspberry, nut, and spice.

These beans are washed processed and come from an elevation of 1,200. The roaster notes that this espresso is amazing on its own, but also great with milk.

Red Rooster Old Crow Cuppa Joe – Espresso Roast, Balanced and Fruity, Trade Coffee

Red Rooster Old Crow Cuppa Joe
Red Rooster Old Crow Cuppa Joe
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Rich, chocolaty, and very berry sweet – this full bodied blend offers a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy.

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Another espresso option comes from Red Rooster, a roaster located in Floyd, VA. This medium roast may be designed for espresso, but you can also use it as a well-balanced and sweet cup of drip coffee.

The Old Crow Cuppa Joe has tasting notes of rich milk chocolate, sweet berry, and sweet vanilla. The beans go through a process of wash and natural/dry and come from an elevation of 1,200.

Other Things to Look for in The Best Fair Trade Coffee

Now, before you run off and buy your bag of fair trade coffee, it’s important to consider other factors and certifications that can not only help small coffee farmers but also the environment.

  • Organic – Having organic certification means that farmers produced the coffee beans in harmony with nature. It supports biodiversity and enhances the health of the soil. Pesticides are prohibited in this process.
  • Bird-friendly – The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, located in Washington, D.C., issues this certification. This certification means that the coffee was grown in a natural environment, and its harvesting process is in line with its natural surroundings.
  • Shade-grown – The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center has named shade-grown coffee plantations as the next best thing to a natural forest. This allows different species of plants, insects, and birds to thrive thanks to its lush growth.


Is Fair Trade Coffee More Expensive?

Not necessarily. Fair trade-certified coffee has a minimum price or safety net, but this does not mean it has to be more expensive than non-fair trade brands.

Is Starbucks Fair Trade Coffee?

Starbucks is one of the biggest purchasers of fair trade coffee. The company began to purchase fair trade coffee in 2000, and since then, they have paid more than $16 million on top of the purchase price of regular coffee to promote positive relationships between growers and traders.

Is Fair Trade Coffee Fair?

Fair trade coffee is not a marketing ploy to make people feel good about their purchase. Coffee products with fair trade certification undergo a rigorous and complex process that takes six to nine months.

What Countries Produce Fair Trade Coffee?

The fair-trade coffee movement started as a response to struggling Mexican coffee farmers in the late 1980s. Since it started, it has expanded to many countries worldwide. Almost every country produces coffee beans that adhere to fair trade policies, including Peru, Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Nicaragua, and many others.

Does Fair Trade Coffee Help the Poor?

When you buy fair trade coffee, farmers can have a better quality of life. It also enables them to invest in better beans. Coffee farmers invest at least 25 percent of their premium income received to improve coffee quality and production.

Final Thoughts

Nothing is better than waking up to the wonderful smell of your favorite roast. Whether you like it hot, pressed, cold, or brewed, coffee has the power to turn your day around.

Now, coffee drinkers are not just getting a cup to give them a caffeine kick. They have become more conscious of choosing brands that uphold their values and priorities, with sustainability in mind. This new breed of educated consumers is making sure that coffee farmers in developing countries are not exploited.

The best fair trade coffee is subjective to your taste and roast preferences, but there are plenty of great options out there. Not only can you enjoy a great cup of coffee, but you can also support small coffee farmers while doing it!

Happy Caffeinating!

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