In its current issue, Roast Magazine names Conscious Coffees its 2011 Microroaster of the Year. This is the second straight year the recognition has gone to a Fair Trade roaster, suggesting this year’s award is not a flash in the pan for Fair Trade coffee. Combine back-to-back microroaster of the year honors with a flattering article on Fair Trade coffee in Coffee Review near the end last year, and I would have to agree with Kenneth Davids: Fair Trade coffee has been “on a bit of a roll.”
Before I moved to Guatemala in 2007, I directed our Fair Trade coffee project for nearly four years. If I had a nickel for every time during those four years I heard someone suggest that Fair Trade coffee doesn’t measure up in terms of quality…well, I’d have a lot of nickels, that’s for sure. I never agreed with this assessment, but usually felt outranked. After all, I work for an international development agency. How could I confidently and credibly contradict a Q-grader cupper, roaster, or award-winning barista on issues of quality? So in addition to being very happy for all the good folks at Conscious Coffees for their well-deserved honor, I confess that recognition of Fair Trade roasters by publications as credible as Coffee Review and Roast Magazine also brings a measure of personal validation.