Coffee Facts

• Coffee is the world's second most valuable traded commodity, behind petroleum.
• There are approximately 25 million farmers and coffee workers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee around the world.
• Coffee was traditionally developed as a colonial cash crop, planted by serfs or labourers in tropical climates on large plantations of landowners for sale in colonial countries.
• An estimated 11 million hectares of the world's farmland are dedicated to coffee cultivation.
• The largest producer and exporter is Brazil, followed by Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia, and Mexico.
• Around the globe, the annual consumption of coffee has expanded to 8 billion kilos (2011).
• Depending on location and time, farmers outside the Fairtrade system can receive anything from 5-100% of the Fairtrade price per kilo. The average farmer receives about 3 cents per $3 coffee drunk in a coffee shop.
• About 80% of farmers (of 25,000,000 worldwide) are small scale, working on family plots of 2-4 acres. About 5 million of those benefit from fair trade prices.
Trade breaking points 
• Prior to 1989 the International Coffee Agreement (ICA, managed by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO)) regulated prices for green beans. After 1989 the US government made moves to nullify the ICA’s power, opening up the coffee market to any price on offer. 
• In the 1990’s the IMF and the World Bank funded a massive, government run coffee planting in Vietnam, carving up much of their virgin forest. Today they are the second biggest producer in the world and thus have created a coffee glut.
• In 1993 world coffee prices fell to a 30 year low putting massive pressure on the 25 million subsistence farmers. 
• In 1993, coffee-producing countries earned $10 billion from coffee that retailed for about $30 billion. Retail sales in 2003 exceeded $70 billion, but coffee-producing countries receive less than $6 billion.
In 2011, for the first time in many years, there was shortfall in coffee supplies, pushing prices up.
Benefits of Fairtrade 
• Small scale farmers receive a set price, protecting the most vulnerable of producers. 
• Co-ops work together to become anything from refiners to exporters, taking hold of the whole value adding process. 
• Power is placed in the hands of the farmer/co-op as opposed to the middleman. 
• A democracy, the co-op, works together for the benefit of the whole community. Part of this process is deciding how to spend the Fairtrade premium used for schools, dispensaries, clinics and even football fields!
• The Fairtrade coffee price is set at $US1.25 per pound (+ .15 cents for the Fairtrade premium). 
• This price rises if the market price rises.
The History of Coffee 
Prior to 1000 A.D. Members of the Galla tribe in Ethiopia notice that they get an energy boost when they eat a certain berry, ground up and mixed with animal fat. 
1000 A.D. Arab traders bring coffee back to their homeland and cultivate the plant for the first time on plantations. They also began to boil the beans, creating a drink they call "qahwa" (literally, that which prevents sleep). 
1453 Coffee is introduced to Constantinople by Ottoman Turks. The world's first coffee shop, Kiva Han, open there in 1475 (other legend has it that the first shop opened in Vienna). Turkish law makes it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he fails to provide her with her daily quota of coffee. 
1511 Khair Beg, the corrupt governor of Mecca, tries to ban coffee for fear that its influence might foster opposition to his rule. The sultan sends word that coffee is sacred and has the governor executed. 
1600 Coffee, introduced to the West by Italian traders, grabs attention in high places. In Italy, Pope Clement VIII is urged by his advisers to consider that "favourite drink of the Ottoman Empire" part of the infidel threat. However, he decides to "baptize" it instead, making it an acceptable Christian beverage. 
1607 Captain John Smith helps to found the colony of Virginia at Jamestown. It's believed that he introduced coffee to North America.
1900s Various farmers, worldwide are encouraged to take on the “lucrative” cash crop of coffee. Local cash crops are destroyed on mass. The most significant of these was Vietnam, in the late 80s, which soon became the second largest producer in the world. This in turn provided a massive market glut and thus the tools to crush small scale farmers under massive market pressures.
1989 Due to pressure from the Reagan administration the International Coffee Agreement collapses opening the way for multi nationals to dictate coffee prices worldwide.
1995 Coffee is the worlds most popular beverage. More than 400 billion cups are consumed each year. It is a world commodity that is second only to oil. 
2001-03 The coffee price hits a 30 year low. This price was not passed on to consumers at the cafe nor the supermarket shelf.
2010 For the first time in many years demand outstrips supply. As the coffee culture spreads throughout the western world demand for quality coffee increases thus pushing up the price.
2011 Coffee prices rise anywhere from 30-200%. Due to good prices being paid for some time this does not so radically affect the Fairtrade coffees though they rise on average around 20%.
  • Fairtrade Labelling Organisation
  • Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand
  • Mr Cappuccino
  • International Coffee Organisation
  • Fair Trade Toronto