Coffee: La crisis y la revolución
By Robin Mejía

Starting from Beans
By Julieta Santana

What is Fair Trade?

Selling Coffee Drinkers on Fair Trade

Coffee Resources on the Web






Selling Coffee Drinkers on Fair Trade

Colleen Crosby runs a specialty coffee shop that’s been a fixture in Santa Cruz, California since 1978. She became a Fair Trade retailer in 2000.

Crosby learned about the crisis in coffee prices at the Specialty Coffee Association of America Conference that year. She didn't stop at simply stocking the right beans, however. Crosby packed her bags to visit Nicaragua, where some of her coffee is grown. The trip was overwhelming.

On the five-hour drive into Nicaragua from Costa Rica, she says “I saw no relief from extreme poverty... I just sat there waiting and waiting and waiting for a break in the poverty.”

She started to purchase Fair Trade beans for her own business, and in the past year she’s found herself taking on an unexpected role as something of an international Fair Trade spokeswoman, including testifying before Congress. She says one of the challenges she faced transitioning to all Fair Trade coffee at her shop was educating consumers. “The news media doesn’t give us the information we need to make a good choice,” she says, echoing the frustration of many working to secure fair pay for farmers.

Over the past two years, Crosby has visited coffee farms in Colombia and Ethiopia as well as Central America. “We were frequently asked ‘Why don’t Americans care?’ I responded that Americans absolutely care. They have a big heart [but] our news media doesn’t give them the information.”

Part of Oxfam’s coffee program is to focus attention on these issues. Among those efforts, Oxfam is working with groups on college campuses that are calling for fair trade coffee. Liam Brody, the coffee program coordinator for Oxfam America, attributes Sara Lee’s decision to offer a fair trade coffee line at least in part to efforts by students at UCLA and Villanova colleges.

— Robin Mejía

© 2003 El Andar Magazine