Monday, October 1, 2007

Fair Trade Coffee At Target

Well, I have to give credit to Target's Archer Farms for supporting fair trade coffee. Also, Seattle's Best is creeping on to the bandwagon. As many of you will come to know, I support fair trade coffee, teas, and chocolates as much as possible. However, these products can be difficult to come by, so I always take note when I see them on the shelves.

This is a good start for Seattle's Best. However, they still have a long way to go.

Here is a DeCaf and a Single Origin by Archer Farms.

Archer Farms Whole Bean Fair Trade Espresso Roast.

Starbucks "premium" coffee. NOT Fair Trade. Do NOT buy.

I am most excited to try the Archer Farm's Espresso roast coffee. Espresso is pretty much the only coffee that I consume. I am infatuated with my Gaggia "Coffee Deluxe" Espresso Machine and my Solis "Maestro" Burr Grinder. I will have some espresso shot photos up shortly.

So here is the price rundown:

Seattle's Best Fair Trade Ground: $6.89 for 12 oz
Archer Farms Fair Trade Ground and Whole Bean: $7.49 for 12 oz
Starbuck's Limited Reserve Ground: $9.29 for 10 oz
Starbuck's Regular Coffee (not pictured): $7.79 for 12 oz

My inquiries: Why is Starbuck's coffee (not fair trade) more expensive than both Archer Farms and Seattle's best Fair Trade Coffee? Where are the extra profit dollars going? Who is suffering because corporate big shots are strong arming developing nations out of a decent price from their primary cash crop? What coffee will you purchase next time?

Why are Fair Trade Products so important?

Here are a couple of links that explain things in detail:

Transfair USA

Oxfam America

I realize that neither of these companies deal exclusively in fair trade goods, and there is no coffee from Ethiopia on the shelves (which deeply saddens me). However, I have to commend them on taking steps toward supporting developing nations. Now it is up to us, the consumer, to send a message to coffee companies by purchasing fair trade beans. Most Americans don't know or care where the food they purchase originates (except when it comes from China).



Anonymous said...

Did you see that Wal-Mart's store brand, Sam's Choice, started offering Fair Trade coffee this year? Pretty exciting for those of us who want to see Fair Trade available everywhere.

Joey said...

starbucks does an amazing amount of sustainability work internally through their CAFE practices. it's all on their website. CAFE seems just as stringent, if not more, than FT and other methods.

i also know that their have been some issues with FT linking back their funds to the farmers, and quality of beans has been a concern. 2 things that starbucks, being as big as they are, can't afford...

just playing devil's advocate.

Keith Shank said...

Joey, I appreciate you taking the time to comment about this, and taking the time to read through Starbuck's Fiscal 2007 Corporate Responsibility Report.

Recently, SB has done a few things to improve the coffee growing world, and done many things to improve it's public image. Not long ago, Oxfam mediated a deal with SB and Ethiopian Coffee Farmers in which SB opted to recognize Ethiopia's ownership of their own coffee brands such as Yirgacheffe, Harar, and Sidamo. This was a groundbreaking deal that took a lot of public pressure for SB to agree (they verbally agreed in Feb 07, but didn't actually commit until Nov 07).

Here are the facts according to SB's website:

In 2007, SB purchased 350 million pounds of green coffee.

34% of that (up from 19% in FY 06) met 80% of it's C.A.F.E standards for social and environmental areas.

5.7% of that coffee purchased was Fair Trade Certified.

So, by their own admission, 231 million pounds of coffee failed to meet even 80% of it's claimed standards. That's not very successful, in my opinion.

As far as their quality of beans, I'm sure they're decent. But then they put them through a super automatic espresso machine so they can pay any high school teenager minimum wage to push a button. And they expect a tip for it. You will always get a better shot of espresso at a local shop who roasts their own beans and trains the employees to pull a proper shot, semi-automatically.

Fair Trade organizations have their share of challenges and faults, but I honestly believe that their hearts are in the right place. I have a harder time believing that SB cares as much as they advertise.

Thanks again for commenting, though. I really appreciate it when people educate themselves as consumers.


Mike said...

Target's Archer Farms line is actually really good. I eat their cinnamon cereal all the time and its fantastic. While I am pretty loyal to my fair trade coffee provider, I think they merit a try. If the quality is even approaching the cereal, I think it will be worth it.