Santiago Riviera is a Nicaraguan coffee grower. After he and his family plant and harvest the beans, they are sold and shipped to processing plants around the world.

From the bush to our mugs, coffee beans can change hands as many as 150 times. Each person involved contributes labour and adds a few cents to the final cost. Of the $3.50 charged by a café for a cappuccino, the grower rarely receives more than 10 cents.

But are all the steps really necessary? Those who support Fair Trade don't think so.

The Fair Trade movement aims to simplify the supply chain and provide small farmers with stable incomes. While others pay between 55 cents and $1.76 per kilo, Fair Trade purchasers guarantee growers like Riviera $2.77. As a result, Riviera can cover his costs, support his family and reinvest in his community.


Many major coffee houses are now selling Fair Trade coffee, as they discover that more and more customers are happy to pay an extra few cents to ensure that people like the Rivieras have enough to eat and can send their children to school. Perhaps it is important that our daily brew is not just a cup of coffee, but 'a just cup'.

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