Fair-Trade Coffee Beans

Fair-Trade Coffee Beans (Photo by PhotographyByMK on Shutterstock)

Want an amazing cup of joe guilt-free? Fair-trade coffee has you covered! It’s not just a feel-good label; it’s a movement that ensures coffee farmers are paid fair wages for their backbreaking work. But fair-trade coffee goes beyond just pay. It means sustainable farming practices, better working conditions, and empowered communities. So, if you’re ready for a cup of joe that tastes good and does good, then dive into the world of fair-trade coffee with us! We’ll explore some amazing brands, the impact of fair trade, and how you can easily brew a cup that changes the world, one sip at a time. StudyFinds has compiled a list of the top fair-trade coffees to unleash your inner barista! We compile our lists by combing through existing consumer rankings and weeding out the consensus recommendations. Have a favorite brand to add? Let us know in the comments!

The List: Best Fair-Trade Coffee Brands, According to Experts

1. Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange is a coffee company owned by the workers themselves! They brew up organic and fair-trade beans, and care a lot about where their coffee comes from and who grows it. Equal Exchange began as a coffee haven, but now their shelves overflow with fair-trade goodies! From organic chocolate and tea to ethically sourced nuts, they offer a variety of treats alongside their classic roasts, adds Brightly. Plus, you can choose from different bean types and roasts, and even stock up in bulk to keep your pantry brimming with feel-good flavor.

Equal Exchange Organic Ground Coffee, Breakfast Blend, 12-Ounce (Pack of 1)
Equal Exchange Organic Ground Coffee, Breakfast Blend (equalexchange.coop)

Believe it or not, Equal Exchange defied the odds to bring Nicaraguan coffee to the U.S. in 1986! Back then, an embargo restricted direct imports. But the founders, according to Mashed and the Equal Exchange website, weren’t deterred. They found a clever solution: importing Nicaraguan beans roasted elsewhere. This act, as their website states, shows support for Nicaragua’s growing democracy and challenged unfair trade policies.

They now source their beans sustainably from over 40 small farmer organizations worldwide. According to Sustainable Jungle, their “Citizen-Consumers” movement empowers hundreds of individuals through educational events on food politics, climate justice, and other social issues. So, with every sip, you’re not just enjoying great coffee, you’re supporting a powerful movement for positive change.

Fair trade and sustainability are at the heart of Equal Exchange, says The Honest Consumer. They offer a wide variety of certified organic coffees at accessible prices (around $8-$10 a bag) – perfect for those new to organic options. But that’s not all! You can also trace your coffee’s journey, learning about the specific region and the farmers who cultivated those beans.

2. Cafédirect

Cafédirect has been around the fair-trade block a long time. They roast delicious coffee while keeping things sustainable and helping out coffee-growing communities. Mashed loves this “farmer-owned” business, saying Cafedirect puts the power directly in the hands of the people who grow their coffee. Not only that, but they’re also the country’s first B Corp certified coffee company. This means they’re a business that balances profits with a mission to create positive social impact!

With over 30 years of experience, they’ve not only built strong relationships with their growers, but also reinvested over £30 million (~$40 million USD) back into these communities, adds The Good Trade. This commitment goes beyond a label – it’s about long-term partnerships and fostering direct connections with the people who cultivate our favorite coffee.

They’re not just passionate about fair trade, they’re passionate about flavor too, according to LeafScore. In fact, their delicious coffees have been recognized with over 30 Great Taste Awards in the last 8 years. So, you can feel good knowing your morning cup is both sustainable and satisfying!

3. Larry’s Coffee

Like the other equally sustainable choices on this list, Larry’s Coffee roasts organic and fair-trade beans, and they are big on giving back and keeping things eco-friendly. LeafScore listed Larry’s Coffee as their go-to fair-trade brand adding that they roast delicious beans in their eco-friendly North Carolina facility. They prioritize sustainability with rainwater collection, solar power, and even a veggie-fueled delivery bus! Fair trade is key – Larry’s partners with small farms (2-5 acres!) across 16 countries, offering pre-financing and fair prices to empower these growers and ensure exceptional coffee.

Larry's Coffee El Salvador Dali - Whole Beans 2 Pound
Larry’s Coffee El Salvador Dali (larryscoffee.com)

Larry’s Coffee satisfies taste buds and certifications! Their USDA-certified organic beans boast a variety of flavors, from sweet caramel and chocolate to intriguing hints of tobacco and pepper. Each cup is a rich and delicious experience, raves Sustainably Kind Living.

Larry’s Coffee doesn’t just brew amazing coffee, they brew it with a conscience. Their eco-friendly practices go beyond a veggie-oil bus – they’re constantly exploring renewable energy, rainwater collection, and sustainable packaging. This “quixotic activism,” as the good trade says, fuels their passion for a delicious and responsible cup. Plus, decaf espresso lovers rejoice – Larry’s has you covered for all your latte needs!

4. Higher Ground Roasters

Higher Ground Roasters sources their organic and fair-trade coffee directly from small farms, and they invest in those communities too, pretty cool! As Mashed says, Higher Ground Roasters brews transparency alongside their coffee! They connect you directly to the farms that grow their beans, highlighting each farm’s unique location, story, and even the flavor profile of the beans they cultivate. But their commitment goes beyond delicious coffee. Their popular blends each support a different organization dedicated to protecting American waterways. For example, their River Roast Blend helps the Alabama Rivers Alliance!

Higher Ground Coffee, Papua New Guinea blend (highergroundroasters.com)

Higher Ground Roasters is your one-stop shop for exceptional, ethical coffee. They source only the freshest, 100% certified organic and Fair Trade beans, ensuring quality and fair treatment for farmers. But their dedication goes beyond the cup. Higher Ground offsets their carbon footprint with wind power credits and actively supports environmental causes through partnerships with organizations like the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, according to The Good Trade. They truly care about the journey your coffee takes, from farm to cup, and it shows in every delicious sip.

Beyond their commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing, Higher Ground Roasters offers a wide variety of options to satisfy every coffee lover’s craving. Their selection extends far beyond their unique, farm-specific roasts. With around 20 additional coffee offerings, you can explore a range of flavor profiles, roast styles, and origins, adds LeafScore. No matter if you prefer a robust dark roast or a bright and light single-origin bean, Higher Ground has something for you. They even cater to decaf drinkers with a selection of certified organic decaf roasts and blends made using the Swiss Water Process, ensuring a delicious and chemical-free experience!

5. Café Mam

Café Mam is a coffee company run by strong women! They empower Guatemalan coffee farmers with fair trade and organic practices. And, according to The Good Trade, Café Mam skips the fancy marketing and focuses on what truly matters: exceptional coffee that empowers people. They source their beans directly from Mayan farmer cooperatives in the Chiapas highlands, ensuring fair trade practices and organic farming methods. This family-owned company has cultivated a loyal following by prioritizing quality and consistency in every cup. For Café Mam, coffee is more than just a beverage; it’s a way to celebrate authentic passion and support indigenous communities.

Cafe Mam Organic Therapy Enema Coffee (cafemam.com)

Every cup of Café Mam goes beyond a delicious brew – it fuels positive change. Their commitment to the Mayan communities is incredible. Mashed reports that Café Mam supports these communities through child welfare programs, educational initiatives, and more. Their generosity doesn’t stop there – they also partner with organizations like the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides and the Aprovecho Research Institute, promoting sustainable practices. Whether it’s supporting education, environmental causes, or a “New American Dream,” Café Mam uses coffee as a force for good.

Café Mam is a leader in sustainable, ethical coffee, says LeafScore. They offer a variety of Fair Trade Certified™ and organic options, with all packaging being recyclable or compostable. They even have decaf versions of all their coffees! Their commitment goes beyond delicious beans – they donate to social justice and environmental causes, and support farmers who use sustainable practices. From biodegradable packaging to biodiesel deliveries, Café Mam is passionate about a truly responsible cup.

6. Rise Up Coffee Roasters

Rise Up Coffee Roasters fights for social justice alongside fair trade. They roast organic beans and work directly with farmers to make a difference. Founded by a Peace Corps volunteer with a love for coffee and social justice, Rise Up sources certified organic and Fair Trade beans, adds The Good Trade. Their small-batch roasting ensures a fresh, artisanal cup that reflects their passion for quality and the farmers who grow the beans. Want to experience it firsthand? Head to one of their Maryland locations for a cup of joe with a whole lot of heart.

Organic Maryland Blend, Certified Fair Trade Organic Coffee, 12 oz, Whole Bean (Organic Maryland)
Organic Maryland Blend, Certified Fair Trade Organic Coffee (riseupcoffee.com)

Rise Up Coffee elevates roasting to an art form, meticulously crafting small batches to unlock the beans’ full flavor potential. Mashed can’t get enough of this brand saying, they avoid artificial flavors, letting the high-quality beans speak for themselves. Their dedication shines through – they were voted “Best Maryland Coffee” in 2019 by the Dorchester Star!

What began as a single coffee truck fueled by a passion for good coffee and social responsibility has blossomed into a thriving company that employs over 100 people. LeafScore highlights Rise Up’s dedication to ethical sourcing and exceptional quality. Their team sources, roasts, and serves only 100% Certified Organic and Fair Trade coffee. This growth allows Rise Up to make an even greater impact, empowering not just the farmers who cultivate their beans, but also creating a network of passionate coffee professionals within their own team.

7. Kicking Horse Coffee

Kicking Horse Coffee offers bold and tasty blends made with fair-trade and organic beans. They source their beans from all over the place! Kicking Horse Coffee isn’t just about a kick – it’s about meticulous quality and a celebration of global flavors. They source only certified organic and fair-trade beans, taking pride in the ethical treatment of farmers and the exceptional quality of their ingredients. This commitment goes beyond sourcing – their roasting process is an art form. IndieGetUp raves about their rigorous attention to detail, with extensive cupping (a coffee tasting process) to ensure each organic coffee blend reaches its full potential. The result? A diverse range of deeply flavorful blends that cater to every coffee enthusiast’s palate. From Kicking Horse, you can expect not only a burst of energy, but also a complex and satisfying taste experience.

Kicking Horse Coffee, Smart Ass, Medium Roast (kickinghorsecoffee.com)

Kicking Horse Coffee didn’t just start in a Canadian garage in 1996, they started with a mission. Co-founder Elana Rosenfeld emphasized their commitment to organic and Fair Trade practices from the very beginning (Mashed quotes her saying it was a “no-brainer”). Their dedication has garnered them a loyal following, including recognition as Canada’s top organic and fair-trade coffee and even a place on “best places to work” lists! To create their flavorful roasts, Kicking Horse sources beans from Central and South American countries like Honduras, Peru, Nicaragua, and Mexico, ensuring a seasonal variety for their coffee enthusiasts.

Known for their playful blend titles like “Kick Ass,” they offer a variety of options to satisfy every taste bud. The Honest Consumer especially prefers the convenience of finding Kicking Horse at retailers like Thrive Market, with prices typically starting around $12 per bag. Whether you prefer whole bean or pre-ground, Kicking Horse makes it easy to brew a delicious and ethically sourced cup of joe.

Sources used to create our list:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article contains affiliate links in which StudyFinds receives a commission if a purchase is made.

About Amanda Christmas

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