There’s nothing like starting your day with a cappuccino, a flat white, or a double espresso. I think it’s that fresh, earthy smell and the warm coffee rushing around you that makes such a wonderful start to a day. But have you ever stopped to think just where it comes from and who has done what before that barista grinds the beans, adds the perfectly foamed milk and hands over that cup of happiness? Is your morning pick me up Fairtrade coffee?
With it being Fairtrade Fortnight for the next couple of weeks, it’s the perfect time to question whether your morning brew is ethically sourced and gives the farmers who produce the beans a fair, sustainable deal. With that in mind I headed to Ham Yard Hotel for an evening of discovering what Fairtrade really is, and where on the high street you can find it.
Espresso martinis were the natural cocktail of course, and were made with flavoursome Fairtrade coffee. If you know me, I’m not one to say no to coffee with a little something extra and so it put a smile on my face to be greeted with one of my favourite tipples.
With martinis in hand, and beautiful personalised coffee mugs to welcome us to the event, we heard from the Fairtrade UK about what Fairtrade really is, and how it makes an incredible difference to farmers lives. One of the most important ways that they help farmers is by implementing a minimum price, meaning that if the market moves up and down (as it does regularly), even if the market dips the farmers are guaranteed a minimum income. But if the market goes up, well so does the money the farmers make. Add to this the Fairtrade premium, an additional sum of money that the farmers use as they see fit to best improve their social and economic conditions, and you can start to see just why it’s so important that we back Fairtrade UK.
‘Cause that morning cuppa tastes even better when you know that everyone along the way has been treated fairly. We heard about villages as well as individuals whose lives had been changed for the better by becoming Fairtrade farmers; communities that now have schools, clean water and families who can afford to feed themselves. And then I started to wonder if the cappuccino that I pick up in the morning was Fairtrade…
After hearing all about the coffee, it was time to taste a little! Coffee tasting is actually called cupping and is done by mixing coffee grinds with 200ml of water! You taste a little from a deep spoon and slurp it all up (sorry, mum) before swishing it around your mouth making sure your tastebuds are all exposed to the wonderful flavours.
We tried three different coffees: two from South America and one from Vietnam, all of which had varying strengths, different fruit flavours and a range of levels of bitterness. But that’s the beauty of a blend of coffee: you get a wonderful mix of all the different flavours and tastes in that one cup. I had no idea that if you’re making coffee with milk you should ensure there’s a hint of something bitter to cut through the milk!
As I sipped on my coffee (a blend of all three coffees we had tasted) I really wondered, are the places I stop between the tube station and my work using Fairtrade coffee? And what about the coffee I buy at home, is that Fairtrade?
I kind of felt like the wall was asking that question of the whole city… “London, is your highstreet using Fairtrade?”
It turns out, that my regular pit stops and coffee chains that I visit on the whole aren’t using Fairtrade. But there’s somewhere a little unexpected that is breaking that trend, ’cause it turns out that Greggs uses Faitrade coffee and has been a Fairtrade partner for the past ten years. Ten years! And in the process, they’ve contributed £1 million to the Fairtrade premium. Each cup of their coffee is made with a unique blend of freshly ground, slow-roasted Arabica and Robusta coffee beans designed to give each cup a full flavour.
So maybe I’ll be rethinking my usual 8 a.m. coffee stop and searching for somewhere that does use Fairtrade. Meaning I’ll be filling my beautiful on-the-go mug with the best: something that cheers me and warms me and means that I know that the farmer who grew those very beans has been paid a fair price for their work.
And to me, that changes how I look at my morning cuppa.
It’s not the biggest change for us: just find a highstreet coffee brand that does care enough to use Fairtrade. And I’ve even given you a starting point – so there’s no saying you didn’t know!
This is a sponsored post, but all opinions and coffee addictions are my own.