10 Fairtrade Coffee Facts to Kick off the Morning

22 March 2017   |   Kyle Freund, Digital Content Manager, Fairtrade America

How important is a good cup of coffee to you? With the average American drinking 1.85 cups per day, it’s clearly something to consider when you make that trudge from bed to the coffee maker. Here are a few facts while you wait for that coffee to brew.

1) There are currently over 812,500 small-scale coffee farmers who are members of Fairtrade certified cooperatives or associations.

2) 80% of all Fairtrade coffee comes from Latin America and the Caribbean.

3) Coffee was the first Fairtrade product in 1988. The Max Havelaar mark, launched in the Netherlands, was the result of small-scale coffee farmers in Mexico and activists seeking a way to trade their products more directly. In the United States, the roaster Steep & Brew, was the first to carry the Fairtrade Mark.

4) Coffee prices are extremely volatile rising and dropping 100% and more over the year. The Fairtrade Minimum Price is an important tool for farmers when prices fall below a sustainable level. In 2015, the market price for coffee was well below the Fairtrade Minimum Price most of the year.

5) Fairtrade farmers’ organizations also receive a Fairtrade Premium of $0.20 per pound of they sell on Fairtrade terms. In 2013-14, coffee cooperatives and associations earned more than $65 million in Premium to invest as they see fit. In coffee, the majority of the Fairtrade Premium is invested in providing services to farmer members and improving their businesses.

6) The average certified coffee cooperative or association sells 28% of their production on Fairtrade terms. When farmers can sell higher volumes as Fairtrade, they reap greater benefits,which is why it’s important to ask your store or favorite brands to go Fairtrade. (Click here if you’re interested in getting certified or carrying Fairtrade products.)

7) The average size of a Fairtrade coffee farmer’s plot is just 3.46 acres or 2.61 football fields. By comparison, the average size of a family farm in the US is 231 acres. Ahmad Muzaki (right), a member of KGMB Co-op in Indonesia, cultivates coffee on just 2.5 acres of land.

8) Fairtrade co-op, FECCEG, in Guatemala placed 8th in the 2016 Cup of Excellence Awards. This coffee from the co-op’s El Vergel farm sold for $12.60 per pound (for reference the current market price is currently $1.38). The co-op is using techniques developed on that farm to help all of their members improve their quality. Read their full story here. 

9) Many coffee farmers are still recovering from an outbreak of coffee rust in 2014. Central America was hardest hit with farmers in some countries losing more than 60% of their production to this fungus. Fairtrade’s Latin America producer network, CLAC, is working with famers in El Salvador to recover and share their learnings with other producer organizations in Central America. Fairtrade is also working with producers in other countries to address coffee rust and adapt to a chaolging climate.

10) Currently there are more almost 25 brands carrying coffee that meet the rigorous Fairtrade International Standards. Find your favorite here. You can also check out brands carrying Fairtrade coffee on Barnraiser.


Fairtrade America and our partners will be at the world’s largest specialty coffee event will be in Seattle in late April. This important event brings together people from all parts of the supply chain, including farmers and co-op managers, importers and exporters, brands and other companies. Click here to learn how you can get Fairtrade certified.


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