Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Equicafe: At Last, FairTrade Organic INSTANT

OK, I drink instant coffee. In this world of jazzed coffee junkies, I am very down market. Strong coffee has no appeal to me, but I do like a cup of Maxwell House in the mornings.
Enter FairTraded coffee, where the farmers earn living wages. That presumably means (as my son Zach astutely pointed out) that most coffee must be UnFair Trade. Organic is much better for the farmers, too - eliminating their exposure to pesticides and enhancing their land's productivity.
Alas, there's never been any instant FairTrade, organic coffee available. Therefore I was excited to find a new product at Fairway, the New York area's Temple of Cool Food Shopping. Equicafe is not as strong as Maxwell House so you need a bit more for your cup, but hey. You can wake up, drink your coffee & read the newspaper, and feel better about your role in the coffee chain, from field to mug:
"You made a unique choice. This coffee has been grown by indigenous communities in Colombia.
Biodiversity and environmental protection is a legacy of their traditions and way of life.
This coffee is the best example of how organic and FAIR TRADE products can offer a unique choice in quality and taste."
It's not available online yet, but they carry it at Fairway (NYC, NJ, Brooklyn) and at OrganicDirect, which looks like it will ship in the NY area.


Traciatim said...

How much do they pay their employees? Is it an above median income for the area?

For instance, in Columbia the GDP (or PPP) is around $9200USD. If they are paying each of their employees $10000USD per year, is that fair? If the same company also establishes ties in Haiti to grow coffee, should they still have to pay $10000USD, or is $1425 fair there, since it's also above the GDP per capita? How about if they also establish ties in Equador? How about Argentina?

I wonder if they even pay them the US minimum wage (http://www.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/001.htm) of 7.25 an hour that's about 14500USD per year.

Betsy Teutsch said...

I couldn't find specific info, but generally FairTrade farmers are coops who sell their coffee through the food chain. By guaranteeing higher price through the FairTrade movement (as exhibited by the logo on their product) it means they are earning fair - if low - income while improving their living conditions.

Traciatim said...

So essentially it's a feel good way to exploit the poor?

Betsy Teutsch said...

All coffee drinking is on the backs of the poor, you're right.

Fair Trade Coffee said...

As mentioned, fair trade coffee is not a perfect solution to poverty. It is, however, a way for these farmers to ensure that their crop will sell at a fair price. This is much better than the alternative, which involves them selling at a loss, then taking out high interest loans to stay afloat.