Buying Guides

The Best Fair Trade Coffee

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A cup of fair trade coffee is the perfect way to start your day. With over 2 billion cups of coffee consumed every day, many people have opted to impact coffee farmers worldwide positively while enjoying their morning brew.

But choosing among the best fair trade coffee options can be easier said than done, especially when you face the hundreds of different brands on the market today.

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

Quick Summary: Best Fair Trade Coffee

Larry's Coffee Medium Roast Recyclable kcups Blend, Larry's House, 12 CountLARRY’S COFFEE MEDIUM ROAST
  • 100% Recyclable
  • USDA Certified Organic And Fair Trade
  • B Corp Certified
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Valhalla Java Bagged Coffee Grounds [12 Oz.] World’s Strongest Coffee, USDA Certified Organic, Fair Trade, Arabica, Robusta (1-Pack)DEATH WISH VALHALLA JAVA COFFEE GROUNDS
  • World’s Strongest Coffee
  • USDA Certified Organic
  • Robust Flavor
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Hugo Coffee Ground New Trick Light Roast Coffee with Bright, Playful, and Sweet Tasting Notes | Hugo Supports Dog Rescues (12 oz)HUGO ROASTERS NEW TRICK COFFEE
  • Bright, Playful, And Sweet Tasting Notes
  • Fresh Quality Coffee
  • Light Roast
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Equal Exchange Organic Ground Coffee, Breakfast Blend, 12-Ounce BagEQUAL EXCHANGE ORGANIC GROUND COFFEE
  • 100% Arabica Coffee
  • Balanced Medium And French Roast Blend
  • Hints Of Chocolate Brownie, Roasted Nut And Caramel
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Kicking Horse Coffee, Smart Ass, Medium Roast, Whole Bean, 2.2 Pound - Certified Organic, Fairtrade, Kosher CoffeeKICKING HORSE COFFEE
  • Certified Organic
  • Tart Red Currant, Notes Of Sugar Cane And Milk Chocolate, With A Honeyed Berry Body
  • Medium Roast Whole Bean
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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.

Fair trade 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. Here are our top picks for the best free-trade coffee on the market. 

Larry’s Coffee Medium Roast

It’s possible to find good coffee that won’t break your bank account. Larry’s has a wide array of beans that originate worldwide, and their medium roast beans from Guatemala and Nicaragua will make you want to drink coffee at any time of the day.

The beans are sourced from small growers in remote areas, so you won’t only be supporting the brand but also workers in rural areas.

Aside from being Fair Trade certified, Larry’s Coffee Medium Roast is also USDA organic, Kosher, and shade-grown. This medium-roast house blend coffee has a balanced taste with a smooth body.

Coffee addicts who enjoy their drink with a gentle acidity will also appreciate this coffee. This drink will surely be your morning mainstay if you love coffee that won’t overpower your tongue with bitterness.

It has a soft sweetness with a hint of spice. You’ll also notice tasting notes of chocolate and caramel, with hints of tobacco and pepper. 

Things we like:

  • Smooth and full body
  • Not too bitter
  • Low acidity
  • Rich taste

Things we don’t like:

  • No fruity notes
  • Sweet notes may be too intense for some

Death Wish Coffee Valhalla Java Coffee Grounds

Is strong coffee your drink of choice? Then the Death Wish Coffee Co. Store Valhalla Java Coffee Grounds should find its way to your pantry. This drink, dubbed one of the world’s strongest coffees, is not meant for people with a low caffeine tolerance.

Despite its strength, this coffee does not sacrifice complex notes. Those who prefer a non-bitter morning boost with a caffeine kick that will last for hours will love this coffee.

This ultra-strong coffee blend is a three-roast blend made with Robusta and Arabica beans from Central and South America and Indonesia. 

Upon your first sip, you’ll immediately notice its bold body, which should be expected. However, you’ll be surprised by how smooth it is, compared to other dark-roast beans. It has pleasant chocolate and nutty notes that will leave a mild after-taste in your mouth. Note that this coffee may not become your favorite if you are looking for something with a fruitier taste.

Things we like:

  • Great notes
  • Smooth body
  • Aromatic

Things we don’t like:

  • Not meant for people with low tolerance to caffeine
  • Slightly expensive compared to competitors
  • The profile is not bold

Hugo Coffee Roasters New Trick Light Roast Coffee

Most people think that all coffee-drinkers love their coffee strong and dark. However, some people love light and smooth coffee, especially those that have multiple servings per day.

With beans collected from Brazil and Costa Rica, this roast is for all coffee lovers – from beginners to connoisseurs. Every purchase of this ethical coffee will also help support different dog rescue organizations.

Its roasting process perfectly brings out its smooth-tasting notes, including spice, nut, and chocolate. Despite being light, its caffeine content remains strong. Whether you prefer French Press or pour-over, this coffee will surprise you with its level of flavor.

Hugo Coffee Roasters New Trick Light Roast Coffee will have you ready for the day without having to taste harsh flavors. The sweetness of its nutty notes does not come with a tangy taste, which makes it more perfect for coffee beginners.

Things we love:

  • Ideal for sweet and hot coffee
  • Great initiative to help dogs
  • Low acidity
  • Great notes
  • Good to drink at any time of the day 

Things we don’t love:

  • Not suitable for those who love bold coffee
  • Provides mixed taste 

Equal Exchange Organic Breakfast Blend

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, this coffee brand has been serving coffee addicts for 25 years and has established itself as a fully worker-owned business. This means that the coffee company is not beholden to outside partners and shareholders. Instead, they are responsible to each other, enabling them to maintain an equal share of profits.

Aside from being fair trade certified, Equal Exchange Organic Ground Coffee Breakfast Blend is also certified organic coffee. This coffee blend is meant to be enjoyed by people who prefer balanced sweet coffee with a strong, creamy mouthfeel. It also has hints of roasted nuts, caramel, chocolate, and brownie.

As its name suggests, it’s the perfect accompaniment to your breakfast. Expect a refined and stout flavor from this coffee, but not a strong punch. You can detect the sweet notes from the first sip, and as it cools down, its rich flavor stands out more.

Things we love:

  • Affordable
  • Sweet and caramel notes
  • Great aroma

Things we don’t love:

  • Not suitable for those who do not like sweet coffee
  • Notes can be a deterrent from the coffee flavor

Kicking Horse Coffee Medium Roast

Made with 100% Arabica beans sourced from Central and South America and Africa, this brand maintains its social responsibility with organic, Kosher, shade-grown, and fair-trade certifications. This medium roast has a surprisingly bright mouthfeel with a hint of sugar cane and milk chocolate.

Kicking Horse Coffee Medium Roast is well-balanced and smooth, with the perfect harmony of sweetness and acidity. You can rely on this coffee to fill you with energy with every sip. The bright taste of this coffee makes it the ultimate morning pick-me-up, especially for days when you don’t want to get out of bed. 

The milk chocolate and sugarcane notes also do wonders to bring out the natural flavors of the coffee. Its inherent sweetness and lightness mean that you won’t need a whopping serving of syrups, cream, or sugar to add to the flavor. While it still retains the roast flavor, there is no burnt flavor.

Things we like:

  • Little acidity
  • No bitterness
  • Bright aroma 

Things we don’t like:

  • Somewhat expensive compared to competitors
  • Too dark for a medium roast 

Why Choose Fair Trade Coffee?

Every time you buy fair trade coffee, you are helping small-scale farmers and promoting sustainable production of the finest coffee through fair trade organizations. Also, when coffee farmers are paid fairly, they do not 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. Crop diseases also threaten their living.

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 do not 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.

How to Make the Most of Your Fair Trade Coffee

Enjoying a cup of the best fair trade coffee without leaving your home is possible. Check out these brewing tips.

Use filtered water

The secret to a good cup of coffee is not only great beans but also good water. After all, your cup of joe will be 98 percent water. Avoid using tap water for your coffee as much as possible, especially if it is hard water. Hard water contains large amounts of magnesium, calcium, and fluoride. Small quantities of minerals can give your coffee flavor, but if the amount is too much, it will lead to dull-tasting coffee.

Make sure your machine is clean

Whether you are making your coffee using an espresso machine, French press, or coffee dripper, you have to make sure it’s clean. Stale water and old coffee grounds will simply turn your coffee sour. Rinsing your coffee maker of choice will eliminate old coffee grounds that will adversely affect your coffee’s taste.

Cold water is key

You’ll be surprised to know that even hot coffee will taste better if you use cold water to start. Pouring cold water on your coffee beans is the secret to better-tasting coffee. Start with refrigerated water, and just let your coffee maker heat the water for you. If you’re boiling your water, the temperature should be 194 to 206 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember the ratio

If no recommended ratio is provided for your best fair trade coffee brand, use the standard ratio of one gram of coffee for every 15 to 18 grams of water. This will give you the perfect strength of coffee that is not too weak or not too strong. You can adjust this ratio based on how your preferences.

Additions to Make Your Best Fair Trade Coffee Taste Even Better

If you’re tired of drinking black coffee or the usual coffee, cream, and sugar combo, try these add-ins to your best fair trade coffee.

Ice cream: If you have an espresso machine at home, you can turn your espresso shot into an affogato. It only takes a few minutes to make and even less time to finish. You can also turn your iced brew or filter coffee into a version of this Italian classic.

Salt: This extra flavor may make you cringe, but don’t judge it until you’ve tried it. This add-in is perfect for those who enjoy salted desserts. The salt will add an unexpected dimension to your coffee. 

Vanilla extract: Missing your go-to vanilla latte in your favorite coffee shop? Whether you have vanilla syrup or extract at home, add it to your drink. You may never want to go back to plain coffee. 

Other Things to Look for in The Best Fair Trade Coffee

If you want to drink coffee that helps farmers and does not harm the environment, consider important factors in how your coffee is grown.

Organic: Organic certification means that farmers produced the coffee beans in harmony with nature. It should support biodiversity and enhance the health of the soil. There should be no prohibited substances like pesticides used on the land for three years or more for this seal to apply.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: Is fair trade coffee fair?

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

Q: 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. 

Q: Does fair trade coffee help the poor?

When you buy the best 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.

Wrap Up

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. This new breed of educated consumers is making sure that coffee farmers in developing countries are not exploited.

The best trade coffee is subjective to your taste preference. The Death Wish Coffee Co. Store Valhalla Java Coffee Grounds is a top choice for caffeine drinkers who want a potent drink to keep them awake for a long time.

However, if you’re not a bold coffee connoisseur and want something light yet bold, Larry’s Coffee Medium Roast is an awesome choice. With its subtly sweet flavor that’s not too overpowering, you’ll be able to enjoy a delicious cup of coffee that does well for the planet, too.

But if you’re a coffee lover that is craving the perfect balance between sweet and strong coffee, try the Kicking Horse Coffee Medium Roast. You’ll be surprised by its unique tasting notes like sugar cane. Despite tasting sweet, its acidity is still dialed down, and it still maintains a great coffee aroma.

Happy Caffeinating!

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