For many it’s a magical elixir, better than a sprint around the block or an ice-cold shower to get them going in the morning (or to keep them going late at night). Coffee has been used as a steamy pick-me-up for over one-thousand years, its popularity spanning the globe.
Coffee beans were first roasted and brewed in Arabia around 1000 B.C.E., though tales of raw bean-eating pre-date the advent of the modern coffee concept. From the time the first java shop opened its doors in Constantinople in 1475 to the current era of coffeehouse abundance, coffee aficionados gradually spread their palatal wings.
Today, a consumer can walk into a coffee shop and choose from seemingly endless options for satisfying the java jones. Espresso shots, café lattes, and cappuccinos are among the most well known incarnations of the brewed bean beverage. Of course, many folks like their drinks a little fancier (read: sweeter). Add a bit of chocolate and your cappuccino becomes a mochachino. Throw in a splash of caramel and your latte becomes a caramel macchiato.
In recent years, however, a different sort of novelty coffee has gained increasing popularity among American consumers. This variation on the traditional brew has nothing to do with sweet add-ins or frothy milk mixers. As coffee lovers become more aware of the roads their beloved beans travel on the way to American auto-drips and percolators, more and more are demanding the coffee they consume be produced under fair working conditions.
Coffee is the number-one food import into the United States. The coffee brought into the States originates primarily in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Vietnam, and the wages coffee producers receive often is not enough for them to sustain their families without going into debt. So how do concerned sippers satisfy their consciences as well as their taste buds? One way is to purchase coffee that is Fair Trade-certified.
Proponents of the Fair Trade movement work to reconcile economic globalization and ethical market practices. In order to be sold as Fair Trade, a product must meet certain standards laid out by organizations such as Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO).