Fair trade is supposed to help coffee growers avoid exploitation and receive a better price for their coffee — which sounds great in theory. But as the coffee buyer has become more sophisticated, fair trade certification hasn’t followed suit, and no longer offers farmers the best deal in terms of bang for their bean. Coffee consumers are willing to pay more than ever for a quality cup of joe. The problem is this: Fair Trade doesn’t guarantee a quality bean. Growers could often make more money (many multiples of the basic price) by producing higher quality beans and selling them directly into the more profitable specialty market.
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