Your friendly neighborhood Fair Trade roastmaster talks about where coffee is grown and it’s differing types.

The Fair Trade Coffee Company is ‘primarily’ a coffee roasting company but is ‘actually’ so much more! This Roasting Company is the visible face of an interdependent three-way relationship we like to call the Fair Trade Coffee Trinity — which can best be described as a well regulated three-way partnership between a Coffee Roaster (that’s us!), a Coffee Importer and many small Coffee-Growing Cooperatives around the world. The Fair Trade Coffee Company would be nowhere without our coffee import partner, Royal Coffee New York. This Importer has been in the import business for many years and has developed strong connections with the many farmers around the world, organized into Coffee-Growing Cooperatives. These relationships are forged “one hand-shake at a time.” So, with the assistance of an established ‘Fair Trade Certified’ Importer, like Royal Coffee New York, the Fair Trade Coffee Company has access to and is able to purchases the highest grade of Arabica Coffees available from the many Coffee-Growing Cooperatives around the world.

Naturally, this discussion about the Trinity would be incomplete without pointing out that the many Coffee Growing-Cooperatives around the world are democratically run associations of small coffee farmers, gathered together into collectives to share their resources and to be better able to sell their product at a fair price. OK, so you get the picture… It’s a three-way partnership between the Coffee Roaster, the Coffee Importer & the many small Coffee-Growing Cooperatives. But wait, there’s more! All three parts of the Trinity are monitored by yet another organization, called TransFairUSA! In brief…. TransFair USA, is a non-profit organization, that has been created… to help organize small, independent coffee farms into democratically run Cooperatives to establish a fair “minimum price” (called the Fair Trade price) to be paid to the growers for their coffee to certify that the grower is paid the pre-established, Fair Trade price by the Importer for the coffee to certify that the additional funds raised by the growers are funneled back into their local communities to certify that the Importer/Roaster/Retailer representing coffee as “Fair Trade Certified,” did, in fact, purchased the coffee at the Fair Trade price to raise US awareness to the plight of the coffee growers around the world and create a market for “Fair Trade Certified” Coffees in the US.

So, when you add TransFair USA to the picture, the Fair Trade Coffee Trinity becomes the Fair Trade Coffee Pyramid! For more info on the Fair Trade Certification process: http://www.transfairusa.org.


Coffee is cultivated in over fifty countries, but as it is easily killed by frost it can only be grown in the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Within this area, three major coffee growing regions exist: Latin America, Africa & Indonesia. Some generalizations about regional characteristics can be made, but within each regional category significant variation exists. A few coffees strongly assert their uniqueness while others elegantly typify a regional quality. With all coffees, careful selection, roasting, and handling is emphasized in order to exhibit the delicate combination of flavors that make each coffee distinct. Following are some useful generalizations, but please bear in mind that good coffees, like good friends, are distinguished by nuance as well as individuality.

Latin American Coffees are known for their slightly sweet, lively acidity. In some of our coffees the acidity sparkles clearly above the other flavor components and in others it delicately provides a subtle but crisp accent.

African Coffees often have sweet, fruity flavors reminiscent of the aroma from a bowl of fresh fruit. This fruitiness is balanced by a somewhat tart acidity. The varying flavor balances reveal coffees that range in character from mellow and softly textured to vibrant and zesty.

Indonesian Coffees are generally rich and somewhat nutty. Most can be described as smooth and sometimes the coffees of this region exhibit a slightly dry quality (like a good Cabernet Sauvignon).


Coffee can be roasted for various lengths of time to achieve the desired result. Roasters commonly recognize several distinct shades of coffee roasts; from the lightest to the darkest, these are the Cinnamon roast, the American roast, the City roast, the Full-City roast, the Viennese roast, the French roast and the Italian Espresso roast. The ideal roast in terms of fully developing the character and quality inherent in the coffee bean is the Full-City roast, therefore, all of the coffees roasted by the Fair Trade Coffee Company — except where noted — are roasted to a “Full City” roast. This style of roasting takes longer, requires more skill than other methods, and results in a coffee that is slightly darker than coffee found elsewhere in the area. This degree of roasting is also more expensive, since the longer roasting time removes more moisture from the beans, which would otherwise add weight to the coffee sold. Our Fair Trade Certified Coffee is custom-roasted in small 27-pound batches at our Roastery in Plainfield, NJ. This small-batch roasting process gives our Roastmaster greater control over ‘bean development’ which helps insure the quality of the roasted coffee as well as helps maintain our high standards of freshness!

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