The United States consumes one-fifth of the entire world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. Few of us realize that agricultural workers are working in what can be best described as "sweatshop" conditions. Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the cost of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt.
The Fair Trade Act insures that coffee is purchased directly from the growers for a higher price than standard coffee. Before the Fair Trade act, often less than 10% of what consumers pay for coffee actually reached the families that did all the hard work growing the beans. When you purchase Fair Trade gourmet coffee you are directly supporting a better life for farming families in the developing world.
Coffee farmers producing Fair Trade certified coffee belong to cooperatives of local coffee growers. Through these cooperatives the farmers market their own harvests learning how to manage their own business and compete equitably in the world marketplace. These farmers are now receiving a living wage and are reinvesting in their family's health care and education, a model which is lifting them from years of poverty.
In today's coffee market organically grown coffee is one of the fastest growing segments. Many top quality coffees are being grown organically. In order for a farmer to receive official "organic" certification, they must grow their crops without harmful chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. There must be a sufficient buffer (distance) between the organic coffee growing area and the nearest conventional crop not following organic practices, every coffee farmer must also practice sustainable crop rotation to prevent erosion, depletion of soil nutrients, and control of insects, pests and crop disease. In addition, they are responsible for enriching soil through composting, and must follow processing procedures that conserve water quality. Because organic coffee plants feed nutrients more slowly and steadily to the beans, leaving the native soil still retaining its complex nutrient base (as compared to the depleted soils on full-sun coffee farms), organic coffee beans have a rich, smooth flavor. Organic coffee growers often get a higher price for their beans, partly because they're organic, but also because greater care is taken to remove the occasional bad bean from the lot. All this results in a great, non-bitter cup of organic gourmet coffee.
Shade Grown Coffee/Bird- Friendly Coffee
When Coffee was introduced to Latin America in the 18th century it was cultivated in the shade of native forest trees. This shade cultivation was the practice for many centuries. The coffee varieties were intolerant of direct sunlight and the best coffees were grown in the shade of the forest canopy.
Swiss Water Processed Coffee
The SWISS WATER Process offers an environmentally friendly and healthful alternative to traditional decaffeination methods which results in great-tasting decaf. Most other processes use chemical solvents, like methylene chloride, to decaffeinate coffee beans. The SWISS WATER Process uses only water when removing caffeine, producing water processed decaf coffee which is good for us - good for the environment - and just plain good!
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