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108. Fair Trade and coffee quality

2010-11-23 Comments Off on 108. Fair Trade and coffee quality

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.