For many, coffee makes the world go round. Whether it’s an iced latte no matter what the weather, or a decaf at any time of the day, or instant coffee in a pinch, it’s safe to say that coffee is a ritual in many of our lives as coffee drinkers.
Yet do we ever really stop to think about where it comes from, or the lives of those who grow it?
What difference might the other labels on coffee, such as Fair Trade or Organic mean for our daily cup of joe?
This sustainable shopping guide will help you better understand what these terms mean and I’m sharing a list of my top Fair Trade Organic Coffee Brands.
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Quick List of Organic Fair Trade Coffee Brands
If you’re just looking for a quick list of coffee brands with fair trade practices & organic beans, look no further! If you’d like to deepen your knowledge on what fair trade and organic mean keep on reading! Plus, a deep dive into why I recommend these brands.
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What Is Organic Coffee?
What exactly is organic coffee? Well, organic coffee, similar to organic fruit and vegetables, is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, or other chemicals.
These chemicals can not only end up in your brew, but also have a devastating impact on the biodiversity of the area where they are grown. With organic coffee, other methods are used to grow it. This includes techniques like composting, crop rotation, as well as using natural predators to control pests. All of these are natural methods that work with the environment and promote sustainability.
For coffee to be labeled organic, it must be certified by a third-party organization. This will usually be by the USDA. While some coffee is certified USDA organic, others may be labeled as “organically grown.”
The reason this exists is getting organic certification can be a difficult process that’s expensive for both farmers and in particular for the roasters of the coffee. As a result, some coffee that is grown organically may not be certified, but it follows the same process as certified organic producers.
Benefits Of Organic Coffee
As organic coffee is grown without the use of harmful chemicals or synthetic fertilizers, it is naturally healthier just by their omission.
Organic coffee has a number of environmental benefits as well. It encourages a diverse ecosystem, as coffee plants naturally grow well under a canopy. This allows for a wide range of other wildlife to thrive and helps to keep pests under control.
Organic coffee is grown alongside other plants to produce this canopy – just like it would in the wild. This in turn reduces the need for fertilizers and the soil becomes less susceptible to erosion due to the root systems of the other plants, protecting the soil for future years.
Organic coffee farming is not only better for the environment, but it is also healthier for the people who grow and harvest the coffee beans. This is because they don’t have to handle all of the dangerous chemicals used in conventional coffee farming.
What Is Fair Trade Coffee?
Fair Trade is a certification for coffee and other products that guarantees fair wages for coffee farmers and workers, as well as sustainable and ethical practices in coffee production.
Working to establish direct relationships with farmers across the world, Fair Trade organizations cut out the traditional middlemen that seek to drive down prices and exploit workers. These middlemen can prevent farmers from earning a living wage and at times force them to work in dangerous conditions.
Fair trade certification ensures that farmers are paid a set minimum price for their product which helps to lift them out of poverty and invest money back into their communities.
Benefits Of Fair Trade Coffee
Buying Fair Trade coffee has a lot of benefits. Having the certification of Fair Trade USA or Fair Trade International ensures that the coffee you buy was grown by farmers who received fair compensation for their labor.
By providing a guaranteed minimum price for coffee, Fair Trade also protects farmers from exploitation. Additionally, Fair Trade certification requires farmers to follow sustainable practices, promoting environmental conservation and biodiversity. Meaning that buying Fair Trade coffee supports social and environmental responsibility.
While Fair Trade coffee is grown in a way that is more environmentally sustainable, not all Fair Trade coffee is organic. Yet about 50% does have this certification, as they have a lot of overlap. Fair Trade coffee often uses organic farming practices and promotes the reduction of waste.
By choosing organic coffee that is also Fair Trade, you can feel good knowing that you are supporting a system that benefits both the farmers and the environment.
9 Fair Trade Organic Coffee Brands Tried & Tested
Now that you know all there is to know about organic and Fair Trade coffee, let’s take a closer look at some of my favorite brands.
These are some of the best organic coffee brands that have fair trade practices, are ethical, and are sustainable.
While I have tried coffee from all these brands, I typically rotate between Fidalgo and Kicking Horse Coffee. These are organic fair trade coffee brands that I feel have a great taste, values, AND are easy to find in stores near me!
Types of Coffee: Organic Ground, Whole Bean, Decaf, Espresso
Price Range: $6+
Kicking Horse Coffee is a Canadian brand that offers high-quality, organic, and Fair Trade coffee. Their unique blends are roasted to perfection, resulting in a bold and smooth taste that will satisfy even the most discerning coffee connoisseur.
With a variety of coffee available, they even have a subscription service so you never need to run out. They offer light roast, medium roast, and dark roast coffee beans in whole or ground.
My personal favorite roast is the Smart Ass Roast. It’s a medium roast with tasting notes of Tart red currant, notes of sugar cane and milk chocolate, and a honeyed berry body.
Types of Coffee: Organic whole bean, ground, espresso, & bulk
Price Range: $11+
Fidalgo Coffee Roasters is based in Burlington, Washington and has been roasting arabica coffee since 1992. Select roasts are USDA certified organic and Fidalgo is partnered with a coffee farm in Honduras ensuring fair trade practices.
Fidalgo is also part of a program called Underground Coffee which creates gateway employment for men and women exiting the legal system.
One of the reasons I love Fidalgo is that they’re local to Washington! I especially love their organic espresso which is what I keep in my espresso machine. It has a bold flavor great for waking up. I also love the organic breakfast blend!
Types of Coffee: Organic Whole Bean & Ground Medium Roast
Price Range: $10+
Public Goods is an organic and Fair Trade coffee that is not only good for the environment but also supports small scale coffee farmers.
Roasted in small batches to ensure maximum freshness and flavor, you can feel good about the impact you’re making on the world while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.
Their beans are a fairly traded blend of arabica beans from Central America and South America with rich, bold flavor. They even use eco-friendly packing materials to lessen their environmental impact even further.
Public Goods is a great option for anyone looking for a more affordable price point! This coffee offers a great taste and is a little less expensive than some of the other brands on this list.
I also appreciate that when purchasing Public Goods coffee, their shop makes it convenient for purchasing quite a few organic grocery items in one order.
Types of Coffee: Organic cold brew with varying caffeine levels
Price Range: $24+
Explorer Cold Brew is a premium, small-batch coffee company that specializes in cold brew. Their single origin beans are carefully sourced and roasted to their exacting standards, resulting in a smooth, bold flavor that’s perfect for hot summer days.
Explorer Cold Brew is USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade certified. They are also committed to sustainability supporting the local farmers that grow their beans and even partnering with Charity: Water.
They offer organic cold brew, flavored cold brew, and low caffeine options too! I really love that their travel sizes offer a small amount for people looking to try fair trade organic cold brew!
Types of Coffee: Organic coffee pods & k-cups
Price Range: $24+
EKOCUPS offers organic and fair trade coffee pods that are compatible with Keurig coffee makers. Their coffee is sourced from small farms around the world and roasted in small batches to ensure quality and freshness.
Committed to sustainability and minimizing waste, EKOCUPS pods are 100% recyclable and made from plant-based materials. Their coffee also comes in a variety of flavors and roasts, making it easy to find a favorite blend without plastic waste.
Back when we used to have a Keurig, this was my go-to brand of coffee pods. I especially loved the hazelnut flavor!
Their sample packs are a great way to try multiple flavors or roasts to figure out what you like!
Types of Coffee: Organic Whole Bean, Ground, French Roast, Dark, Light, & Flavored
Price Range: $10-$16
Thrive Market is a sustainable online grocery store that carries a wide range of organic and socially responsible brands. Not only do they carry some of the coffee brands listed above, but they also have their own line of coffee.
Thrive Market’s coffee can be purchased in a range of different roasts and offers whole bean or ground options. They even have seasonal blends around the holidays if you’re looking to spice things up!
Their coffee is ethically sourced from Peru and roasted in small batches for maximum flavor. If you’re not already a Thrive Market member use my referral link to get 40% off your first purchase!
Coffee Type: Organic coffee pods, whole bean, ground, flavored
Price Range: $15+
Death Wish Coffee is well known for its strong and bold flavors. Claiming to have the “world’s strongest coffee”, with double the amount of caffeine compared to a regular cup. The Fair Trade and USDA Certified Organic beans are carefully selected and roasted to create this super-strong brew.
They also offer a variety of flavors and blends, such as their signature blend, espresso, and flavored options like pumpkin spice and chocolate cherry. They use arabica coffee beans and offer whole bean coffee or ground coffee. You can also buy in bulk which is great!
Coffee Type: Organic cold brew and flavored cold brew
Price Range: $35+
Wandering Bear specializes in certified organic cold brew. While not officially fair trade certified, Wandering Bear does support sustainable agriculture and the farmers that practice it by partnering with co-ops.
Their organic coffee is sourced from Peru, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Wandering Bear’s organic cold brew comes in single servings, cartons, and boxes. They use eco-friendly packaging too!
Wandering Bear is my go-to cold brew brand! I love the boost of bold caffeine and their Peppermint Mocha flavor is especially amazing!
Coffee Types: Organic Ground, Whole Bean
Price Range: $12+
Equal Exchange is a coffee brand that has been around since 1986. Their mission is to empower small-scale farmers and create a more equitable, transparent, and sustainable food system. Offering a wide range of coffee options, from single-origin to blends, all of them are both organic and fair trade certified.
In addition to coffee, Equal Exchange also sells other fair trade products, such as chocolate and tea. Every Equal Exchange product I’ve tried has always been high quality! I also find that this is a brand easy to find in stores!
There you have it, all you need to know about organic coffee and the importance of Fair Trade certification. I hope that you’ve learned something new and found some brands you want to try from my top picks.