First, a little background. Coffee is the second largest money-making commodity in the world. It is second only to oil. This means that it is big business. Really BIG business. Large companies are in business to make money, and they will produce this profitable commodity as economically as they can in order to meet their financial goals.
Unfortunately, their goal of making money does not benefit workers who are engaged in the production and harvesting process. Coffee plantations pay as little as possible for labor. And since most of these plantations are not in industrialized countries, there are workers who are severely underpaid and overworked. It is just a fact of life when the only jobs available take advantage of those who labor.
Another negative fact about big business is that it is easier to strip the vegetation off the land and use chemical fertilizers to “put back” necessary soil nutrients than it is to allow the cash crop to grow as nature intended.
Fair Trade Organic Coffee is practically the opposite of big business coffee. Growers who have agreed to the Fair Trade policy are paying their workers a decent wage. They pay enough for workers to be able to live a modest lifestyle from what they make working on their farms.
Organic coffee is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It can be done this way because the bean producing plants are grown as they would in nature. The plants normally grown in partial shade and at higher elevations where it is not so hot. Coffee grows in tropical climates (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn) around the world. But it usually grows at higher elevations where it is not as hot.
So the benefits may seem quite obvious.
First, as mentioned, the folks who depend upon coffee for a living actually get paid enough to survive.
Second, coffee farmers take pride in their product, and work diligently to grow first rate organic beans.
Third, the environment is preserved in nearly its natural state on organic coffee farms. On large commercial plantations, soil is stripped of its natural goodness and must be supplemented with chemical fertilizers.
Fourth, the taste of Fair Trade Organic Coffee is naturally more rich and flavorful than that which is grown on large plantations. Coffee grown in the shade as naturally intended develops more flavor because the beans ripen slower. This allows more natural sugars to develop inside the bean, thus giving a richer flavor.
Finally, the natural environment around the java plants – the shade trees – are a natural home to birds. Research has shown that there is a decrease in the natural bird population and migration in areas where forests have been stripped to plant huge plantations.
You can find fair trade organic coffee in most stores. You just need to pay attention to the labels. It does cost a little more, but the benefits do outweigh the additional cost. If you don’t find what you want, check the Internet. There are a host of resources available online.