How to Change the World with Coffee

// By Alexandra Balcom

Photo by Lauren Bellcox

If you’re like the gals at Society B, you start your day with two words: Coffee first. Coffee is an essential part of life for millions of people, but not for the reasons you might think. Yes, coffee gives us that boost of caffeine we need to look alive and be alert in the morning. But for 125 million people, coffee is also the source of their livelihood. And when consumers make the simple choice to buy fair trade coffee, those tiny beans can make a huge impact.

What is Fair Trade Coffee?

In fair trade conditions, coffee beans are planted and harvested by hand, often in secluded locations, such as Central and South America and Ethiopia. Once beans are harvested by small-scale family farmers, they can then sell the beans to coffee importers with a fair trade agreement that stabilizes the coffee-selling process.

Photo by Green Joe's Coffee in Greensboro, NC

Benefits of Fair Trade Coffee

We don’t often think about where coffee comes from or how it was made, but perhaps we should. Fair trade coffee generates so much good for society. Just by choosing our morning Joe a little more thoughtfully, we have the power to reduce poverty and provide sustainable economic growth for millions of people around the globe.

So before you reach for you regular cup of coffee, consider the multiple benefits of fair trade coffee:

  • Fair trade coffee ensures that the people involved in production were treated and compensated fairly. Most farmers live in remote locations and lack access to credit, leaving them vulnerable to people who offer cash for their coffee at a segment of its worth. Fair trade helps to protect farmers who are in this situation by keeping them out of poverty and helping instill long-lasting trade sustainability for them.
  • It reduces child labor and human trafficking. Fair trade coffee has contributed to the reduction of child labor in 70 countries.
  • Fair trade coffee provides economic stability. Farmers of fair trade coffee are able to earn at least the Fair trade Minimum Price for their coffee, which covers production costs and provides security if the market crashes.
  • Fair trade coffee encourages sustainable environmental practices.
  • Fair trade coffee helps farmers create a lifelong business and expands their opportunities. Fair trade helps create and keep farmers in business on an international level.

Fair trade coffee promotes livable wages, community development, health, and education for millions of coffee growers and their communities.

Photo by Green Joe's Coffee in Greensboro, NC

Making a Difference with Coffee

Fortunately, fair trade coffee is easier to find than you may think, and there are many accessible fair trade options. At the grocery store, look for Pura Vida Coffee or Allegro Coffee. Online, check out Equal Exchange or Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee. For those who use K-cups, Green Mountain Coffee makes fair trade options for your Keurig! And when you’re at your favorite local coffee shop, ask which brews are available with fair trade coffee. (Both Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have fair trade options!)

Photo by The Created Co.

Last, check out our favorite coffee-related goods at Society B, which give back to make a difference with every purchase:


About the Author 

Alexandra Balcom Alexandra is a Boston gal who has relocated to the south. When she isn’t cheering on the New England Patriots, she is spending time with her parents out on the ocean. She enjoys current events, economics, running, and visiting her brother any chance she gets. At age 21, the Harry Potter series is still her favorite read.



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