How Much is Your Cup of Coffee Really Worth?

As you sip your coffee out of your favorite mug before work on a Monday, do you ever wonder where your coffee comes from? Or who is harvesting the beans?
May 1, 2022
How Much is Your Cup of Coffee Really Worth?

While a coffee connoisseur may ponder this occasionally, the thought doesn’t cross the mind of the average caffeine enthusiast. The truth behind the coffee is that many farmers and harvesters are living in extreme poverty while we drink our dark roast blend with oat milk before our morning meeting.

Around the world, coffee is one of the most popular agricultural products and remains in high demand in terms of both production volumes and consumer purchase volumes. However, it is difficult to enjoy something knowing the people responsible for making it are working in poverty and under poor labor conditions. Coffee is one of the most consumed products in developed countries but is almost exclusively produced in the global south, often by impoverished communities in countries like Brazil, Guatemala, Vietnam, and Uganda.

Coffee beans are picked by hand, making it a meticulous and time-consuming process. Coffee plantation workers often work over 10 hours a day doing demanding physical labor to harvest coffee beans, while making less than minimum wage. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are over a dozen countries exploiting child laborers for coffee production. The US alone makes billions of dollars within the coffee industry, while the farmers and workers won’t see nearly that in their lifetime. This adds up to a lot of laborers being overworked, underpaid, and in some cases, exploited and abused.

Fortunately, more individuals and businesses are raising awareness of this issue publicly. Many companies and coffee shops have realized the need for change and have become more focused on ethically sourcing their coffee, including familiarizing themselves with the farm, the harvesters, and the trade process.

One of the non-profits leading the mission for more ethical trade is Fairtrade International, which is dedicated to prioritizing farmers and workers through trade. With their newly appointed Global CEO Sandra Uwera, the company is working towards negotiating fairer prices, working conditions, and trade power for small-scale producers. If a coffee shop is sporting the fairtrade logo, you can be assured that they are protecting the livelihood of farmers and their families.

While you cycle through your mug collection as the work week continues, think about where the coffee in your mug came from. Take a moment to consider the labor conditions that were endured to get you your morning latte. And most importantly, do your own research to see how you can support and drink ethically-sourced coffee!

Reported by: Lady Latte | Written By: Eleni Finkelstein

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