Fair Trade Coffee in a Fair Trade world July 15 2015
By Julian Kuo
Gnome Cafe [Photo by Julian Kuo]
Coffee is, and always has been, one of the most valuable primary exports in international
trade. The vast majority of coffee producers live in the developing world and for some of
these economies, coffee accounts for up to 80% of their total export.
Directly after World War Two, the demand for coffee increased exponentially and supply
was incredibly low, meaning a terrifyingly high price for the commodity. This led to a global
increase in planting, resulting in massive oversupply. Harvests continued to increase
through the 1950’s and 1960’s leading prices to fall substantially, leading governments to
look at ways to halt or, at the very least, control the value. After a series of highly
ineffective short term agreements, a Coffee Study Group was formed, resulting in the First
International Coffee Agreement, 1962. Under this agreement, product release was
controlled in an attempt to stop intense fluctuation in pricing and any instance of
With prices regulated and controlled, Fair Trade, an association that covers many crops
cultivated by developing economies (cotton, tea, sugar), charges a small premium to its
buyers which is then delivered back to farmers in order to help build infrastructure and
assist in the general ‘social, economic and environmental development in their
community’ (www.fairtrade.com.au). Essentially, Fair Trade ensure that the financial
guarantees given to farmers by the International Coffee Agreement are passed on to their
When I started drinking coffee a few years ago, I didn’t think much about where it came
from. Much like when we start out with most things, we, as humans, tend to go for the
easy, quick fix; when we’re kids, food is MacDonalds and Pizza Hut. When we grow up a
bit, it becomes take away and anything that we can get on EatNow.com. But slowly, by
either choice or necessity, most of us come around to good old fresh food and home
Why? Because it’s best for you, the cheapest in the long run and by buying it, we’re
helping those who make their living from growing it.
The same goes for coffee and with Fair Trade, we can rest assured knowing that everyone
involved, from farmer, to worker, to their communities are taken care of and afforded the
same rights as all of us who enjoy their product.
Amazing Fair Trade Coffee at Gnome Cafe [Photo by Julian Kuo]
The good news is that you don’t have to look very far to find Fair Trade Coffee in Sydney.
When Sydneysiders think of Coffee they think of two suburbs; Newtown and Surry Hills.
Both are at the core of the caffeine revolution and are home to Newtown Brewtown and
their little brother, Gnome Cafe. Both believe in and support Free Trade Coffee and make
a seriously mean cup. Along with your coffee, they also offer plenty of food options, the
highlight being the latest craze in sweet pastry heaven, the Cronut.
So the next time you’re looking for an energy hit, take some time and look around for the
Fair Trade bean basher closest to you; you’ll get the best cup you’ve had and help those
producing it make sure you get that delicious little dose of energy for years to come.
Julian Kuo is one of the Ganton Man finalists chosen for 2014/15.
Not only is he an accomplished singer and actor, he is also our resident
coffee snob and style guru. Follow him on Twitter @julian_kuo
or Instagram @juliankuo27