Fair trade — a term that is touted around a lot — is the practice of paying producers in developing countries a fair price for their goods. In the past, goods bought in developing countries (such as cocoa, tea, coffee, and spices, to name a few) were bought at cheap prices; flown to developed countries; and packaged, branded, and sold to consumers at a whopping price, with buyers making huge profit margins. These exploitative practices followed by certain companies have come to light as the world becomes smaller and smaller, connected as we are through technology and the internet. As more people become conscious of the ethical (or exploitative, as the case may be) practices of companies the world over, it seems natural that more people are switching to the brands of companies that their personal ethics align with.
The World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) defines fair trade as: “Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers — especially in the global South.”
Fair Trade Brands You’ll Love
For many people — including myself — buying fair trade means that every day we can make a difference in the lives of people who work so hard to grow, nourish, and harvest the things we love. It seems unfair to me that a cheap chocolate bar or cheap tea means the end of someone else’s livelihood. Exploitative practices still exist in the world today, despite close scrutiny from organizations and the buying public. The only way we can stamp them out is by buying fair trade.
In this post, I want to highlight some amazing fair trade tea and coffee brands that you need to switch to right away!
Best Fair Trade Tea Brands
Every thoughtful sip you take when you brew a pot or a cup using the following brands is a sustainable sip, meaning that you have helped improve the lives of the growers who painstakingly grew and tended to your tea. It’s your super power as a consumer, and a way to affect things for the better.
The following brands of tea are easily available all year round. You can find them in your favorite supermarkets or online.
Level Ground‘s mission is “to trade fairly and directly with small-scale producers in developing countries, offering customers ethical choices.” Located in British Columbia, Canada, the company adheres to green practices that also make a difference to the planet. They sell various products, including coffee, dried fruit, rice, and spices. Their teas are varied — from chai to lemongrass to tulsi — and they are sold loose in their trademark paper bags that feature their farmer friends. Of course, they are also fair trade and delicious.
Clipper Teas is a company that is located in the United Kingdom. They were the U.K.’s first fair trade tea brand and lead the way in delicious organic fairly sourced tea. They also champion the unbleached tea bag; many people are unaware that tea bag paper is bleached to achieve that pearly white exterior. If you want to know more about unbleached tea bags, click here. Meanwhile, take a peek at the rest of Clipper’s fascinating site, which has “Feel Good” and “Look Good” sections that champion their tea and contains suggestions for snacks, body and face scrubs, and more.
The Little Red Cup Tea Co.
According to their website, “The Little Red Cup Tea Co. partners directly with worker-owned cooperatives to import simple and fabulous loose leaf tea from China.” All teas are certified as fair trade, and there are many options in store, from my favorite Gunpowder Green tea to the exceedingly pretty Camellia Flowers tea. Tea addicts rejoice; you can also shop for teacups, teapots, pretty ceramic tumblers, and more.
Mountain Rose Herbs
Mountain Rose Herbs is certified by IMO’s Fair for Life program, and they also uphold the “Good Trade Program” that gives full negotiating rights to workers. Being certified this way enables them to “re-direct a portion of every sale to agricultural communities around the world, guaranteeing that workers have rights and receive livable wages.” The company sells many products, such as salts, spices, herbs, seasoning blends, bath and body products, and more, but it is their line of teas that stand out, from blacks to greens to whites to reds to flowering teas. They also sell tea accessories.
Best Fair Trade Coffee Brands
Located in Boulder, Colorado, Conscious Coffees lives up to its name by running its business as responsibly and as ethically as possible. They are a certified B Corp, which means that “they meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.” Their alternative trading model eliminates the middle man by importing directly. This enables them to “maintain quality as well as guarantees their farmer partners a reliable source to sell their harvests.” Their website not only outlines their ethics and values but also teaches their customers to enjoy their coffee with brewing tips and describes each coffee in detail.
Pura Vida Coffee
One of the first companies to sell exclusively fair trade coffee nationally, Pura Vida Coffee has generated over 16 million dollars in proceeds since 1998, which has gone to coffee growers at rates above commodity rates. Pura Vida’s nonprofit Create Good Foundation uses its resources to fund projects that help children in at-risk communities around the world. Besides all of this, they offer delicious coffees that make you feel good. Check out their Sombra, a perfect blend with a touch of caramel, or their House Blend signature roast, which has a distinct flavor with nutty undertones.
Kickapoo Coffee puts farmers at the center of everything that they do, and it shows. Their focus is not only on fair pricing but also on solid relationships with their growers and producers. As direct importers, they eliminate the middleman, bringing farmers and roasters to the same table. Something else that distinguishes them is that they travel throughout the year. They visit farms and producers to ensure that they are able to cater to the needs of the farmers. This practice also ensures the best quality coffee for themselves. Try their organic infrared coffee, which is both jammy and complex. Or go for the organic El Salvador el Corozo, which has chocolate and tangerine undertones.
Grumpy Mule Coffee
It’s hard not to love a brand that calls itself Grumpy Mule, and that demands “Who are you and what do you want?” when you navigate to their website. The branding is cheeky and hilarious, and it always makes me chuckle. They’re grumpy about their ethics and their policies as well, chucking short-term sustainability out of the window in order to get the full treatment. Their coffees are organic, fair trade certified, and have the backing of the Rainforest Alliance, which means that every sip of Grumpy Mule coffee is sustainable. In their own words, their coffees are “epic, seasonal, and crafted.”
Awanthi Vardaraj lives and writes in the port city of Chennai, in the south of India, where she runs her own small artisanal bakery and keeps a garden full of jasmine plants and herbs that she still cannot name. As a freelance writer, she mostly focuses on food, feminism, travel, mental health, and poverty. She also nurtures a deep love for the Oxford comma and the semicolon. Visit her website at www.awanthi.com and follow her on Twitter at AwanthiVardaraj.
What are your favorite fair trade brands? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!