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But first, coffee!

Our morning coffee can be a delightful ritual (or even an absolute necessity!) – but unbeknown to many, there are several challenges small-scale farmers must overcome before you take that first sip.

04 Coffee

How much can a little bean take

Did you know that coffee is a highly volatile commodity? Coffee farmers are up against a myriad of challenges when it comes to producing crops. This includes price fluctuations, variable weather conditions, disease, pests and now climate change. All these factors threaten coffee output and ultimately,  the livelihoods of up to 125 million people.

Globally, there are about 25 million small-holder coffee producers producing 70-80 percent of the world’s coffee. That’s a lot of coffee! As their name suggests, they own small plots of land (generally about the size of a soccer pitch), produce limited quantities and are often family-run – akin to a small business. What they lack is reliable market information and their smaller yields also mean less bargaining power at the negotiating table. Simply put, when farmers lack this power it means they are not paid a fair price for their produce.

So what’s the solution? To buy Fairtrade coffee. 

Fairtrade gives farmers stability by offering a Fairtrade Minimum Price, which protects them from sudden price drops and supports farmers to organise themselves into small producer organisations – such as cooperatives and associations. This enables farmers to negotiate better terms of trade and reach wider markets. Organically grown coffee receives an additional price incentive, too.

Farmers also receive a Fairtrade Premium – an extra sum of money paid on top of the selling price that they can invest in business or community projects of their choice. 25 percent of this premium is also invested in quality or productivity improvement initiatives.

Ultimately, it’s about farmers building a better quality of life for their families and communities, while keeping the quality of your coffee up to scratch – a win-win!

A little Fairtrade goes a long way

Since the first bag of Mexican-produced Fairtrade Coffee was solid in 1988, here’s a snapshot of what Fairtrade coffee looks like around the world:

0 The amount in dollars paid in Fairtrade Premium payments to coffee farming organisations (2019 Monitoring Report, using 2017 data)
0 Farmers across 32 countries work with Fairtrade
0 Of all Fairtrade farmers produce coffee

Climate change tightens its grip on the ‘Bean Belt’

Can’t imagine a world without coffee, can you? Unfortunately, extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones have increased in frequency and intensity in recent decades, threatening the sector. Today, most of the world’s coffee farmers live in a zone known as the bean belt, an area of around 70 (mostly developing) countries including Guatemala, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Ethiopia and Indonesia. 

In 2016, a report commissioned by Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand, shows that increasing temperatures and extreme weather events could cut the area suitable for production by up to 50 percent, erode coffee quality and increase coffee prices for consumers. The report illustrates how areas suitable for growing coffee could halve in a few decades, pushing production upslope, away from the equator and into conflict with other land uses, such as nature conservation and forestry. This will further impact the natural world and the livelihoods of many farmers and their families. 

As a result, Fairtrade is working with commercial partners and coffee farmers on climate-focused projects. These projects seek to prevent more greenhouse gases from being produced and provide technical and financial support for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Find out more about climate neutral coffee.

Just some of our Fairtrade coffee brands

Other Fairtrade Products

Where you can buy Fairtrade

You can smell the beans already can’t you? There are plenty of Fairtrade coffee options out there to choose from – so make the change to Fairtrade today.