Angelina Jolie, Colin Firth, Bono and Elton John. They’re just some of the celebrities raving over Organic Fairtrade Coffee. Two Australian municipalities have joined hundreds of international cities in earning the title “fairtrade community”. In 2009 alone, Australians and New Zealanders spent more that $50 million on the stuff. So why are the world’s coffee-lovers going gaga over organic Fairtrade coffee?
Well, coffee farmers will tell you, you can’t beat traditional, natural farming methods when it comes to growing superb organic coffee beans. Imagine for a moment, if you will…
…Coffee plants growing in their own sweet time, drawing on nutrient-rich soil under the protection of the forest’s shady canopy. Song birds warbling cheerily as they perch in the trees, only too eager to keep insects at bay. The leaves rustle- perhaps a howler monkey is scampering about. It’s a perfectly balanced and sustained eco-system. Plants and animals are thriving. The red buds of the coffee cherries are hand-picked and the beans removed and dried in the sunshine under the watchful care of the farmers, just as they have been for hundreds of years. Ahhh… it’s coffee as it should be… no wonder Angelina is a fan.
Contrast this to non-organic production… an entire forest cut down to create more room for plantations, leaving wildlife homeless and eco-systems shattered. Coffee plants, not partial to the sun, are engineered to tolerate the heat. Pesticides are used to control insects and chemical fertilisers are sprayed onto the ground- and surrounding water supplies- to make up for the ever-diminishing soil quality. The result is an inferior coffee bean, a destroyed habitat and the pollution of waterways that threaten both farming communities and the environment. It’s enough to make you want to spit your coffee across the room.
So it’s easy to see why organic coffee has become the darling of the coffee-drinkers’ world. But what’s all this about Fairtrade, you may be asking…