The United States consumes one-fifth of all the world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often toil in what can be described as "sweatshops in the fields." Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt.
Fair Trade is a viable solution to this crisis, assuring consumers that the coffee we drink was purchased under fair conditions. To become Fair Trade certified, an importer must meet stringent international criteria; paying a minimum price per pound of $1.26, providing much needed credit to farmers, and providing technical assistance such as help transitioning to organic farming. Fair Trade for coffee farmers means community development, health, education, and environmental stewardship.
Starbucks only purchases between 1-2% of it's coffee through fair trade. Although Starbucks claim that they only purchase coffee from farmers where good labour practices are endorsed for workers. Starbucks offers bags of whole bean fair trade coffee for sale, however the coffee it brews is not. After campaigning in 2003, Starbucks have agreed to offer brewed fair trade coffee on request. The only way to increase the amount Starbucks purchases through fair trade its to increase the demand for brewed fair trade coffee. So if are going to drink Starbucks coffee, as over-roasted as some people think it is, try and ask for fair trade.