A hot cup of morning coffee is a staple beverage for many people all over the world. Thanks to its stimulating ingredients, coffee increases energy and focus levels. Around 25 million small farmers produce about 70% - 80% of the world's coffee and rely on it as a means of livelihood. Yet many are not assured of a reliable income. Hence, your choice of fair trade coffee brands provides steaming rich flavors and fair conditions for workers throughout the supply chain.
When a coffee company has a fair trade certification, it means that the company makes its coffee under safe working conditions and pays fair wages.
Furthermore, it means that coffee farmers have kept to international environmental standards, and the coffee production process involves no child labor.
To enjoy a cup of coffee that is both delicious and made ethically, the best option is to choose coffee from fair trade coffee brands. For a morning guilt-free and ethical brew, we have curated a list of the most delicious fair trade coffee brands you try. Even better, many of these brands will leave your taste buds wondering why you ever bought anything else.
Related: Check out our guide to zero waste coffee for tips to brew your beans without the waste, including plungers, cold brewers, bags & strainers.
Here are our top choices for fair trade coffee brands to look out for:
Fair trade coffee
The World Fair Trade Organisation explains that fair trade "is a trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade."
With fair trade, farmers and craftspeople in developing nations have equal opportunities to compete with developed countries in the international market.
A Fair Trade Certification ensures that farmers receive sufficient wages, and by enforcing these standards, coffee farmers can have a voice in the global coffee industry.
Also, fair trade supports the sustainable production of coffee.
Further reading: Choose to buy Fairtrade
Benefits of fair trade coffee
From environmental sustainability to improved living standards and better coffee production, the benefits of fair trade certified coffee cuts across farmers and producers, consumers, and even the environment.
Typically coffee producers grow their coffee plants in the shade of trees. However, because of the high demand for coffee, some coffee producers switch to sun-grown coffee. This method involves the cutting down of forest trees. This vicious cycle of deforestation comes with an increase in carbon emissions, causing climate change. It also involves the use of toxic chemical fertilizers.
With fair trade, farmers can cultivate their lands sustainably. Fair Trade USA requires that farmers refrain from deforestation. Also, other sustainability requirements include water efficiency, protection of biodiversity and land, and minimal pesticide use.
Further Reading: The Environmental Impact of our Coffee Habit
Increased standard of living
Fairtrade organizations empower farmers and producers to eliminate any dependence on intermediaries who do not have their best interests at heart. Fair Trade empowers small coffee producers and farmers through cooperatives. These cooperatives give farmers access to better opportunities and learning experiences. They also provide healthcare and improve infrastructure and farmers' overall standard of living. Farmers can also learn sustainable farming techniques and access credit and technical assistance.
Better coffee quality
With a better standard of living and training for coffee producers and farmers, they can learn how to improve the quality of their products. With these benefits, farmers can grow the best coffee beans and sell the best quality, fairly traded coffee to consumers.
Why choose fair trade coffee?
Behind every cup of coffee is a group of hardworking farmers. With the increase in demand for coffee supply, the coffee industry harbors one of the highest levels of forced labor.
The International Labor Organization(ILO) points out that millions of children work in slavery to produce agricultural products like coffee and cocoa1. These children work on coffee plantations instead of going to school. They are also exposed to hazardous working conditions.
Laborers have no rights and regularly work long hours with little or no pay. Also, these workers undergo unsafe working conditions, with exposure to harmful chemicals potentially causing long-term health conditions. You can make a real difference to people working in the coffee industry by choosing Fair Trade coffee.
17 fair trade coffee brands to look out for
This section will look at each coffee brand in detail, paying attention to its ethics and location. Additionally, we have added a commentary on the things we like about each coffee brand.
1. Volcanica Coffee Company
Ethics: Organic Fairtrade, Rainforest alliance, shade-grown coffee beans
Location: Suwanee, GA, USA
Volcanica is a family-owned coffee company founded in 2004. Volcanica produces the most remarkable coffee following fair trade standards created to support farmers, their families, and communities while protecting the environment.
The coffee brand carries over 130 types of coffees, including peaberry, decaf, estate, and flavored coffees freshly roasted at its facility in Atlanta, Georgia.
They work one-on-one with coffee farms and cooperatives to ensure that they responsibly source their coffee beans.
Their Tanzanian peaberry coffee beans grow in the famous mount Kilimanjaro on fertile volcanic soils. Its intense aroma and rich flavor notes give you the best coffee experience with every sip.
Why we like Volcanica Coffee
Volcanica produces coffee under fair trade standards. Coffee farmers are guaranteed a minimum price which gives farmers some financial stability even when prices go up. Volcanica grows its coffee organically and also has a rainforest alliance certification. This coffee comes in many unique flavors so that you can relish in a hot cup of both tasty and ethical coffee.
2. Kicking Horse Coffee
Ethics: Organic Fairtrade, kosher, ECOCERT, Rainforest alliance, shade-grown
Kicking Horse Coffee is a fair trade organic coffee roaster that produces high-quality coffee. They have a verification granted by fair trade international, which assures fair compensation, standard quality, organic farming practices, and improved social services for farmers, amongst other benefits. Fairtrade also empowers farmers and their communities using profits from coffee sales.
It comes in unique flavors and tasting notes sure to make you get up and kick ass.
Its dark roast ground is the perfect blend of coffee beans grown in an environmentally responsible way. This dark and rich coffee roasts amidst the rocky mountains in Canada.
Why we like Kicking Horse Coffee
Kicking Horse is the largest coffee roaster in Canada, with a Fair Trade International certification. It demonstrates its love for the community and the environment through sustainable coffee farming practices that protect the planet. Its fair trade certification also ensures the protection of farmers' interests.
3. Tiny Footprint Coffee
Ethics: Organic fair trade certified, Rainforest alliance, shade-grown, biodegradable packaging
Location: Brooklyn, USA
This organic fair trade certified company claims to provide the world's first carbon-negative coffee through collaboration with a non-profit conservation organization and an artisan coffee roastery.
With every pound of delicious coffee sold, Tiny footprint donates a part towards reforestation in Ecuador's Mindo cloud forest.
They source some of the finest Arabica coffee beans around the world. These beans are organic, rainforest alliance, fair trade, and shade-grown coffee certified. They also support local communities by purchasing coffee from small family farms that make the most delicious coffees.
They roast their coffee beans in a German-built energy-efficient probat drum. Their coffee beans come packaged in a biodegradable coffee bag. They also compost coffee grounds to reduce waste around their shop.
This organic coffee is a fine mix of light and dark roasts, perfect for a cold brew. They also come in sweet and silky flavor notes that make every sip genuinely satisfying.
Why we like Tiny footprint coffee
Tiny footprint is an earth-positive coffee brand taking steps toward environmental sustainability. Through reforestation, they can take out a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere, protecting the environment and creating a habitat for plants and wildlife. They also package their coffee in a biodegradable bag. If you're looking for the perfect mix of sustainable, ethical, and delicious coffee, Tiny footprint will be an ideal option.
4. Salt Spring Coffee
Ethics: Certified b corporation, Fair for Life, organic, 1% for the planet
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Salt Spring is one of Canada's most sustainable coffee brands producing 100% organic coffee. Salt Spring is a member of the 1% for the Planet and also has a Fair for Life certification. This family-owned coffee business began with a few coffee drinkers roasting some beans on a wood stove.
Now, they aim "to support people and natural systems that sustain us to thrive along our entire supply chain."
Salt Spring is also tilting towards becoming a zero-waste company. They divert waste from landfills thanks to their donations, recycling, and composting projects.
Their unique coffee blends include tasting notes of milk chocolate, tangerine, and nutty.
Salt Spring produces delicious organic coffee that comes in recyclable plastic packaging and is actively pushing towards using more biodegradable packaging for storing coffee.
Why we like Salt Spring Coffee
Salt Spring Coffee comes with a Fair for Life certification that applies fair trade principles and ethical working conditions across the entire trade supply chain. Through donations and projects, this coffee company also shows its commitment to reducing energy consumption and waste.
5. Larry's Coffee
Ethics: Organic fair trade, certified b corporation, shade-grown
Location: North Carolina, USA
Larry's Coffee goes as far back as 1993 and has produced some of the most sustainable coffee for decades. They have also been a significant force in the Fair trade movement and were formerly Larry's Beans.
Larry's coffee sources the finest beans and employs the most sustainable methods to create high-quality tasting coffee.
Their coffee is organic and shade-grown. They are also a certified b corporation and come with other certifications, including Kosher and fair trade certifications.
Larry's coffee is also a founding member of cooperative coffees. This is an organization of coffee roasters who source their coffee directly from farmers, creating positive relationships.
Larry's Coffee shows its commitment to the environment through eco-friendly practices in its offices and roastery. They use gallons of rainwater for their toilet, use solar-powered heated flooring to reduce electricity usage, and also have company-wide composting to reduce waste.
These beans come in different rich blends and tasting notes giving you a rich coffee experience with every sip. Its popular flavors include caramel and chocolate with tobacco and pepper undertones.
Why we like Larry's Coffee
In making their delicious coffee beans, Larry's Coffee works with selected small farms from different countries. They partner with small coffee farmers and ensure farmers receive fair pay to sustain quality coffee production year after year. They don't just treat their farmers as suppliers but establish a long-term partnership with them.
6. Allegro Coffee
Ethics: Organic fair trade, Kosher certified
Location: Boulder, Colorado
With Allegro coffee, it is easy to enjoy a cup of organic fair-trade coffee every day. Made with the finest coffee beans sourced from around the world, Allegro makes a variety of coffee flavors and roasts.
Allegro has been in the sustainable coffee industry since 1977, establishing itself as one of the first specialty coffee producers in Colorado.
They source their coffee from small coffee farmers and ensure fair pay for all their farmers and suppliers.
They take it a step further by establishing long-term relationships with their suppliers and also providing them with the opportunity to build their communities and improve coffee production standards through financial support.
They also remain committed to environmental sustainability through the best agricultural practices.
Allegro Coffee comes in a variety of offerings and flavors for every coffee drinker. From whole bean coffee to ground coffee and decaf.
Why we like Allegro Coffee
Allegro ensures equal pay and safe working conditions for all their farmers. Their producers grow their coffee organically, guaranteeing a 100% healthy product. Allegro is also popular for its variety of flavors and delicious taste.
7. Equal Exchange
Ethics: USDA organic certified coffee, Fairtrade
Location: Minnesota, USA
Equal Exchange is one of the first pioneers of the fair trade movement and has been in business since 1986. They follow the authentic fair trade model, which focuses on empowering small farmers.
Equal Exchange is a 100% worker-owned company with workers holding equal shares in the company. Most of their coffee is certified organic and shade-grown. However, they do not have a shade-grown certification.
Their coffee is carefully roasted and comes in medium roast and dark roast blends with unique chocolate flavors.
Why we like Equal Exchange
Equal Exchange focuses on farmers first, being one of the pioneers of Fair Trade. Beyond equal pay, they establish long-term collaborative relationships with their workers. Their coffee is also produced sustainably, with most of them being certified organic coffee.
Ethics: Fairtrade, certified b corp
Location: London, United Kingdom
Cafedirect is one of the top coffee companies producing quality coffees through ethical production practices.
The company uses fair-trade coffee beans, tea, and cocoa. They were, in fact, one of the first coffee companies to become fair trade certified in 1994.
They have contributed massively to Fair Trade premiums and have a reputation for reinvesting their profits to empower communities where they source their coffee.
Cafedirect is also popular with coffee lovers for making delicious tasting coffee, with a string of more than 30 Great Taste Awards to prove it.
This fair trade coffee brand is strongly committed to building long-lasting relationships with its farmers and suppliers and has done so for many years.
Their coffee comes in unique flavors from ethically sourced coffee beans from around the world.
Why we like Cafe Direct
Cafedirect is one of the UK's first Fair Trade and Certified B Corporation coffee companies.
Additionally, Cafe Direct builds a long-lasting relationship with its farmers and suppliers. They work directly with small farmers and throughout the coffee economy to make the best brews and are also dedicated to reinvesting in communities where their coffee comes from. They have also received many awards for their great-tasting coffee.
9. Higher Ground Coffee Roasters
Ethics: 100% certified organic, Fair Trade
Higher Ground roasters is a coffee company committed to making the most ethical coffee. The company produces certified organic, shade-grown coffee.
Higher Ground builds a lasting relationship with its farmers and consumers.
They also partner with non-profit initiatives like Black Warrior Riverkeeper Blend, Alabama Rivers Alliance River Roast, Cahaba River Society Blend, and the Freshwater Land Trust Blend to produce ethical coffee while protecting the environment.
Higher Ground has got you covered with a great choice of organic fair trade coffees coupled with convenience with various subscription packages and coffee offerings.
Their unique roasts and blends give you a rich coffee experience with every morning cup of coffee.
Why we like Higher Ground Roasters
Higher Ground Roasters works to follow a sustainable business model. Their collaboration with non-profit initiatives aims to promote sustainability and conserve energy. Their coffee also comes with subscription packages giving you freshly roasted coffee when you order them.
10. Red Bay Coffee
Ethics: Certified B Corp, Fairtrade
Location: San Francisco, USA
Red Bay Coffee, founded in 2014, is a certified B Corp company focusing on ethical sourcing, socially responsible hiring, and community building.
Red Bay roasts its coffee beans at a B Corp-certified roastery in the state of Oakland, California.
Because of high expenses on organic certifications, their coffee suppliers are not certified organic. However, they employ organic farming practices.
Red Bay also builds direct relationships with its farmers and strives to promote community building.
Why we like Red Bay Coffee
Red Bay Coffee has won several medals participating in a major coffee roaster competition- Golden Bean North America. They are also committed to producing the best whole bean coffee, from sourcing high-quality direct trade coffee to roasting and delivery.
11. Conscious Coffees
Ethics: Fairtrade, certified B Corp
Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA
B Corp has recognized Conscious Coffees as the best for the world since 2015. They have also earned a reputation for leading the path to sustainability by caring for their workers, communities, and the environment.
They are also the founding members of Cooperatives Coffee, maintaining high-quality coffee production and giving their farmers a guaranteed source of income.
All their coffee is certified organic, and they also roast their coffee fresh for your order. You can sign up for subscription packages to get the most delicious coffee delivered to your doorstep.
Why we like Conscious Coffees
Conscious Coffees focuses on creating lasting relationships with its suppliers. They also educate consumers on the environmental and social impact of growing, harvesting, roasting, and trading coffee. They also offer brewing tips and detailed coffee descriptions on their site.
12. Ethical Bean
Ethics: Fair Trade coffee, organic certified
A cup of Ethical Bean coffee is a great way to start your morning on an energetic note. Ethical Bean is a certified fair trade coffee brand that shows its commitment to ethical coffee production by ensuring its farmers receive a fair price with every coffee they make.
Ethical Bean grows its coffee organically, free of pesticides and chemicals. This ensures that every cup of coffee is healthy for you and the planet.
Aaron De Lazzer, one of Canada's first Q graders - a professional coffee taster, meticulously selects the finest fair trade coffee for a richer taste. With each bag of coffee, you buy, you are sure to get a consistent and high-quality flavor even to the last sip. The coffee bags also come with a QR code you can scan on their website or app. When you scan your coffee bag, you can find out where they produced your coffee.
Why we like Ethical Bean coffee
Ethical Bean coffee shows its commitment to sustainability right from the production of its coffee and even within its area of operation.
Their facility comes with energy-efficient smart roasters and a LEED standard head roasting facility to reduce their carbon footprint and conserve energy the best they can.
13. Mayorga Organics
Ethics: Fairtrade coffee, direct trade, Non-GMO certified
Mayorga Organics employs the most ethical practices to create its coffee.
This coffee company prefers to work directly with its producers, educating them on high-quality coffee production and product consistency.
They collaborate with small farmers and cooperatives that prioritize organic and shade-grown specialty coffee.
They roast their coffee in batches right from their facility in Rockville, MD, and Miami, Florida, ensuring you get high-quality flavored coffees.
Their signature blend, Cafe Cubana Roast, stems from specialty-grade coffees using slow-roasting processes for a distinct flavor and smooth finish.
Why we like Mayorga Organics
Mayorga Organics produces the most remarkable coffee while putting its farmers and producers first. They also exist with the purpose of eliminating poverty in Latin America through the ethical trade of organic foods.
14. Pura Vida Coffee
Ethics: Fair Trade, organic, shade-grown
This coffee company is one of the first coffee brands to sell only fair trade coffee. Since its inception in 1998, Pure Vida coffee has moved to shade-grown and other organic practices in growing their coffee.
Pura Vida pays their coffee growers fairly and uses proceeds from the business to reinvest in their communities. Their coffee is freshly ground and brewed using the best brewing equipment, giving you a rich and smooth taste and finish.
Why we like Pura Vida Coffee
Pura Vida Coffee is fair trade certified and one of the first companies to pioneer selling only fair trade coffee. Not only do they make ethical and high-tasting coffee, but they also have a heart for their coffee growers and communities. They demonstrate this through non-profit education and health initiatives dedicated to supporting children.
15. Café Mam
Ethics: Fair Trade, certified organic, shade-grown
Café Mam offers a variety of coffee made from fair-trade beans grown organically. They buy their coffee beans from cooperatives, including native Mayan coffee growers in Mexico.
Their coffee is fair trade certified by Fair Trade USA. They demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental causes by donating 2% of their profits to non-profit organizations.
Each bag of Café Mam coffee comes with an audit trail that ensures you get healthy coffee free of chemicals delivered to you.
The packaging is 100% recyclable or compostable. They also have biodegradable bags. Their shipping boxes are recyclable, and their papers come from post-consumer office waste. Their delivery vehicles also run on biodiesel.
Why we like Café Mam
If you are looking for ethical, delicious, and eco-friendly coffee, then Café Mam is the way to go. They grow their coffee organically, package them in eco-friendly bags and deliver them most sustainably.
They also show their commitment to sustainability through donations towards environmental causes.
16. Wandering Bear Coffee Company
Ethics: USDA organic fair trade coffee
If you love cold brew, then this coffee company is one you should know about.
Made with 100% organic coffee, Wandering bear coffee makes delicious cold brew coffee that is extra strong, rich, and smooth.
They are USDA organic and Fair Trade certified by Fair Trade USA.
Their coffee comes in a recyclable carton that keeps your coffee fresh for up to 30 days on tap. They are also shelf-stable, meaning you can buy cartons of Wandering bear coffee for storage.
Why we like Wandering Bear Coffee
Wandering bear coffee looks out for the most sustainable options. For example, they eliminate plastics from their single-serve caps and replace them with sugarcane. Also, Wandering bear uses 100% recyclable coffee pods.
17. Grumpy Mule
Ethics: Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, organic
Location: London, United Kingdom
Grumpy Mule is a sustainable coffee brand committed to making each brew of coffee following sustainability standards and ethics. Their delicious coffee comes from the finest coffee beans selected sustainably. They roast these coffee beans meticulously to produce the richest flavors that give you a unique coffee experience in every sip. Also, most of their coffee is certified organic.
Why we like Grumpy Mule
Grumpy Mole is fair trade certified and has other certifications, including Rainforest Alliance and organic certifications. They also offer guides on brewing and roasting methods.
By choosing to shop from ethical coffee brands, you can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee while knowing that the coffee workers and farmers involved are empowered and treated fairly.
Our fair trade coffee brands list will help you choose the best coffee that suits your taste buds.
International Labour Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund (2021) Child Labour Global Estimates 2020, Trends and the Road Forward