Hasbean’s Stephen Leighton offers a point of view on the Fair Trade coffee documentary, Black Gold, that’s informed and thought-provoking, and that will surely cause some to get their shorts in a bunch. And that’s just fine.
The Fair Trade system as we know it today does admirable things. It is not, however, a panacea. And it’s got some warts. And the only way to make it better is to keep the dialog going, otherwise folks who are serious-minded about coffee quality are simply going to route around it. Point of fact, they already are… witness the rejection of Fair Trade certification by some, and the various and sundry Direct Trade models that have begun to circulate.
I don’t think third-party certification is going to become irrelevant any time soon, but I worry that greater numbers of ever more prominent roasters may fold up their tents in favor of systems that offer equal transparency, more equity for farmers — no matter whether they’re a single-family farm or a coop or an estate — and increased respect for coffee quality as a part of the equation.