Coffee was first cultivated in Yemen. Sufi mystics drank it as an aid to heighten awareness and concentration during extended hours of prayer as they chanted and meditated long before it was brought to Europe in the 16th century.
Global coffee consumption has doubled over the last 40 years. It is grown in more than 70 countries but Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia produce nearly two thirds of the entire world supply. On average, coffee farmers in developing countries receive only 10% of the retail price of the product. The US is the biggest importer, followed by Germany and Italy while the UK is the 8th largest.
Buy Cafe Direct where possible, they guarentee the best worker rights. Aim for FairTrade next.
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Conditions for coffee workers on large plantations varies, but most are paid the equivalent to a sweatshop wage. The rural nature of the plantations keeps workers hidden from view which leaves people severely vulnerable. Often there is no signed contract and workers get paid for how many bean they pick, making as little as $2-3 a day. Coffee farmers typically earn only 7–10% of the retail price of coffee, though in Brazil, workers earn less than 2% of the retail price.
Most coffee workers are not guaranteed their basic labour rights. Many countries have labor laws such as minimum wage, mandated health and safety requirements, and freedom to form a union, but these rights are usually not enforced leaving coffee workers, including children, exploited by massive multi-national corporations.
37 of the 50 countries in the world with the highest deforestation rates are also major coffee producers. As a result of popular demand and new mass-production methods, 2.5 million acres of forest in Central America have been cleared to make way for coffee farming. Furthermore, .
Cultivation can be so intense that in coffee plantations in Brazil and Colombia, natural nutrients are drained away and have to be replaced by by additives. Farm workers encounter an array of chemicals that are supposed to be applied with protective gear, however these precautions are rarely enforcd
Coffee companies in the UK go through around 3 billion disposable cups per year – but only one in 1,000 is currently recycled. This is because the thin plastic film coating the inside of the cup has to be removed before the paper is pulped. Curbside recycling is not set up for this process, and so cups end up in landfill.
Fairtrade is the most widely recognised ethical label in the world. Fairtrade ensures a fair wage for all certified organisations through its minimum prices scheme.
Its partners must conform to rigorous environmental standards and exercise zero-tolerance of child labour.
It also provides access to loans to help producers invest in improving their businesses, and ensure premiums to the cost of farmers' products to provide community in education and health, for example.
Though FairTrade certification receives criticism about substantial enough profits reaching farmers and its societal and environmental impact, it is better than brands and products with no socio-economic ethical interests. Choose better brands that exhibit the FairTrade certificate.
BUY CAFE DIRECT
CafeDirect are grower focused and provide 100% Fairtrade products. They form long-term partnerships with local farmers, and farmer representatives occupy two of the eight International Board Member seats.
They have reinvested 50% of profits into the grower communities so far. They established the Cafédirect Producers’ Foundation which strengthens small farmers’ access to the training, education and information services they need to improve their farms and livelihoods. Epic.