Monday, March 24, 2008

How just is that coffee?

What's a fair price for a pound of coffee?

  1. $6.95
  2. $3.45
  3. $1.26

A fair price for coffee isn't what you pay in the grocery store, it's what the coffee farmer is paid. Available in Europe for more than a decade and recently in the United States, "fair-trade" coffee has been purchased directly from coffee farmers for $1.26 per pound, instead of less than 50 cents.

According to Transfair USA (, an agency that certifies fair-trade practices, coffee is the second largest trade commodity in the world, next to oil. An estimated 80 percent of Americans drink coffee.

Ten years ago, the world coffee economy was worth $30 billion, of which producers received $12 billion. Today, it is worth $50 billion, with producers receiving just $8 billion, according to the Fair Trade Coffee Campaign of Global Exchange.

Last year, Starbucks became the first U.S. company to agree to a "code of conduct," promising it would tell its suppliers that in order to sell to Starbucks, they must pay workers a decent wage and respect their rights. Many gourmet coffee companies now offer fair-trade products, too, says Deborah James, fair trade director for Global Exchange, including the Bucks County Coffee Co. in Langhorne (800-523-6163). More are listed on the Global Exchange Web site (

This entry taken from a social justice quiz.  


Aaron said...

Starbuck's agreement seems a little too loose for me as I hear you describe it. Are they really ensuring this or are they asking "casual" questions? Let me know Joel so that I can run out and get some Starbuck's today. If they are legit then I cannot wait to get their "Breakfast Blend!"

Actually I do buy their coffee still but would love to go in there with a "free" conscience. Do tell of this "code of conduct" a little more if you can!

Grace and Peace,

hammerdad said...

Hey Man~

I didn't actually write this and have NOT done careful research on whether Starbucks is living up to this. I simply copied the article since I thought it was interesting. I am working on updating the social justice quiz that is linked through arloa's blog. . . .

My conscience is not entirely clear about Starbucks so I try to visit the Bronzeville coffee shop and other places to spread the guilt around until I understand better!!!

To my thinking, however, the fact that Starbucks provides health insurance to low income/PT employees and actually spends more money on health insurance than they do on coffee is a fair justice issue to be commended.