Fair Trade Coffee Resource
Change is blowin in the wind...
Berkeley is on the social awareness warpath again. This time they want to make Fair Trade coffee the law in the Berkeley area.
One attorney, Rick Young, a 2001 graduate of UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, succeeded in getting a piece of legislation on the ballots last year called no bad beans. His purpose, to make it illegal to sell non-fair trade coffee in Berkeley. The legislation did not make it into law, however.
In Berkeley, where coffee is king, the people care but aren't ready to issue $100 fines or six month stints in jail for brewing non-fair trade beans.
Students in California, with Berkeley in the lead, have managed to pressure some of the larger companies, Sara Lee Corp, the maker of the Hills Bros. and Chock Full o' Nuts for example, to start purchasing some Fair Trade coffee beans in addition to their regular coffee.
California doesn't hold the monopoly on caring consumerism though. Many companies and individuals are doing their part to make the coffee farmer's life better.
Dean's Beans a small coffee company in Massachusetts is owned by Dean Cycon who is also a fair trade activist. He is in fact know for being somewhat controversial to the point where even the non-profit fair trade organization, Trans Fair USA asked him to stop brewing trouble. Cycon had placed an ad in Arthur magazine requesting that asked Paul Newman to pressure Green Mountain Coffee to buy more fair trade beans at higher prices. The problem with measures like these is that Newman was not consulted prior to the ad's publication and Green Mountain, based in Vermont is already transitioning to fair trade. Attacking companies that are making efforts tends to upset them. Consequently, Green Mountain and the Newman family were not happy with Cycon and responded likewise.
In addition to wacky but well meaning grass roots efforts in America, the Columbian Coffee Federation is making an effort to help all of the coffee farmers in Columbia, large and small by opening its own Juan Valdez coffee shops. They have five prototypes in Columbia already and expect to open their first American shop in New York. This will be followed by three more in Seattle.
Gabriel Silva, President of the federation said that only 1 or 2 cents from each cup of coffee goes back to the farmer. He hopes to increase that to 4 or 5 cents with the introduction of the Juan Valdez shops in America.
The farmers, 560,000 in all, will own a piece of the shops and the federation will use profits from the retail shops to invest marketing dollars into the Juan Valdez brand and will work to improve Colombia's coffee-growing regions by building roads, schools, health centers and housing.
If you have read this far, maybe you are interested in finding out what you can do to help the plight of the coffee farmers.
Copyright © Cherie Stull 2003