There is a lot of buzz around sustainability in the coffee industry. Stop in your local coffee shop and you are likely to find biodegradable cups, stories about the farmers who source the shop's beans, and the fair trade-certified label next to the coffee selection. As Triple Pundit put it, sustainability in the coffee industry has transformed into "a fully recognized strategic business management tool."

Grant Wish, writer for Stand4 Magazine, pulled together a great list of 15 fair trade coffee companies that are championing sustainability (including our very own Minnesota-grown, Spyhouse). Check out his article below and be sure to check out his post over at Stand4.

[Reblog from Grand Wish at Stand4]

The coffee industry in America is rather large, like $30 billion large. In the United States, Fair Trade coffee certification is granted by Fair Trade USA, a non-profit organization that started certifying coffee in 1998. The fair trade certification lets us, the consumer, know about the origin of a product. Many small-scale farmers live in very remote locations in developing countries and lack access to credit and education.  Farmers can become vulnerable to middlemen who offer minimal cash for the coffee, capitalizing on the lack of education about the coffees actually value. Fair Trade guarantees farmers a minimum price, and connects farmers directly with companies, creating a long-term organic and sustainable business relationship. Through Fair Trade, farmers can earn better incomes, become educated on coffee markets, and invest in their land a quality of product. The coffee companies spotlighted below believe in a organic and sustainable way of doing business with their farmers.


Allegro pays their farming partners a fair price: one that exceeds their cost of production and provides them themeans to reinvest in their farms, hire and retain the best workers, and maintain and grow a healthy business. Their growing partners share a commitment for environmentally friendly growing practices. They use traditional and sustainable growing and harvesting, including the use of shade trees, manual weeding, water conservation and organic farming methods. Five percent of their net annual profits are donated to support both the communities where our products are grown and our local neighborhoods.

Bean Fruit Coffee

BeanFruit Coffee is a small coffee roasting company located in the Jackson, Mississippi Metro Area. This company began with a desire to provide fresh roasted coffee to the Jackson Metro and educate local consumers about great tasting coffee. BeanFruit Coffee Company is in favor sustainable practices and are members of the Rainforest Alliance and are currently the only Fair Trade Certified roaster in the state of Mississippi (Click here to verify).

Ghost Town Coffee Roasters

Ghost Town Coffee Roasters is a specialty coffee roasting company located in Bozeman, MT.   They are a wholesale coffee roasting business that works closely with local and regional retailers to provide the highest quality specialty coffee available. They take great care in sourcing  top quality specialty coffee from around the world that has been purchased with social, economic, and agricultural responsibility. Ghost Town Coffee Roasters is a Certified Organic Handler through the Montana Department of Agriculture.  They are also registered with Fair Trade USAand Rainforest Alliance.


Started in 1999, Anodyne Coffee Roasting Company is a locally owned, small batch roaster working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They participate and contribute to many local organizations and charities. They are also members of some pretty excellent organizations, including Fair Trade USA, USDA Organic, SCAA, Local First Milwaukee, and Rain Forest Alliance.

Dynamite Roasting Co.

Artisan roaster of 100% Certified Organic and Fair-Trade coffee. Dynamite’s mission is to track down the best coffee in the world. They work closely with partners and growers to ensure the very best quality beans.  Dynamite provides a fair and living wage to farmers, putting back as much goodness as we take from the soil, and having the smallest footprint we can. They’ve received several awards including: #1 Best Barista: Mountain Xpress 2009, 2010 #2 Best Local Shop, Black Mountain: Mountain Xpress 2010, 2011 #2 Best Mountain View, Black Mountain: Mountain Xpress 2009 #3 Business That Gives Back To Community: Mountain Xpress 2013 #1 Coffee Roaster: Mountain Xpress 2013.

Kaldi's Coffee

Kaldi’s Coffee is dedicated to creating a memorable coffee experience for customers and guests, committing to sustainable business practices, providing educational opportunities, and supporting the communities that they serve. Kaldi’s Coffee specializes in sustainably sourcing and roasting the finest coffees in the world.

La Cosecha

Their mission is to connect the consumer with the farmer by offering fresh-roasted coffee grown in a sustainable manner where the farmer is given a fair price. Coffee is grown all over the world and is the chief export for many countries. It’s actually the most highly traded commodity after oil. Of the estimated $60 billion the global coffee industry earns each year, less than 10 percent of earnings go to the farmers who grow, nurture, and harvest the coffee beans. Fair Trade certification ensures farmers receive a living wage and other benefits. La Cosecha hopes that as dealers and consumers you will choose to purchase and consume freshly roasted, Fair Trade coffee. In doing so, they can and will bring the coffee “from the harvest to your cup”.

New Harvest Coffee

New Harvest started building their Source Direct program in 2007 by traveling to coffee farms in South and Central America. The goal was to connect directly with small farms that produced great coffee and create lasting relationships with growers. Source Direct is not a certification. It is a commitment to do what it takes to create real collaboration between New Harvest and small coffee farms to ensure quality. They pay all of their Source Direct partners at least 30% above the minimum Fair Trade price and for high-quality microlots and they often pay more than double the Fair Trade minimum.

One Village Coffee

As one of the founding B Corporation certified companies in the country, One Village Coffee has always used the power of business to support social and environmental sustainability. From the beginning, they have been a Fair Trade and USDA organically certified company. As a Fair Trade certified company, communities of growers are ethically compensated and cared for. The One Village community takes it a step farther with their annual campaign to give $1 from the sale of our Artist Blend coffee to build bee colonies in the COMSA co-op in Honduras. They are also certified organic to make sure that our growing practices support the health of farmers, the earth, and you. Just as importantly, their 12oz coffee bags are biodegradable and can be composted – going back into the ground from where the coffee came.


The THX Co. identifies global needs, and with the purchase of a great product, they donate 100% of the profit to  specific nonprofit partners. Their Cost + $5 model makes changing the world a little easier. They work directly with their global suppliers to ensure the quality and integrity of each THX good made. Partners are chosen based on their financial accountability, transparency, sustainability and community-based approach. They support non-profits on a project-based approach. This maximizes efficiency and ensures that you know exactly what your donations are working to provide.

Spyhouse Coffee Roasters

The goal at Spyhouse Coffee Roasters is to source & roast the best coffees they can find while producing the finest coffee & espresso drinks for customers. They consistently purchase Fair Trade and Organic certified coffees with notes of complex dark sugars. The roast profile is carefully shaped to create a coffee that works well both as a brewed offering and espresso.

20 Below Coffee Company

The long-term goals for 20 Below is to develop direct-trade relationships with coffee farmers in order to maximize their profit, product quality, and relationship with others in their community. They are taking strides towards this long-term goal by working with the most ethical importers, and purchasing Fair Trade Organic coffees. Importing coffee is expensive and difficult, but they hope to slowly learn what it will take to make these direct-trade relationships possible.

Grounds & Hounds Coffee Company

Ground & Pound’s passion for rescuing dogs is only rivaled by their passion for creating the perfect coffee. Their green coffee is 100% Fair Trade and Organic certified, and carefully sourced beans from the best growing regions in the world. 20% of their proceeds go to their two partner organizations, Best Friends Animal Society and One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue.


BEAN HEAD is an industry leading organic coffee company based in Ontario, Canada. They are 100% organic and Fair Trade certified. They also use reusable straw bags & recyclable kcups for their products.

Kobrick Coffee

Kobrick Coffee is Certified Fair Trade and Organic, There roasting facility is also certified organic and star K Kosher. They are committed to purchasing coffees from sustainable farms, giving back to the community through charitable organizations, and doing business with an emphasis on being green. They are also a member of Cup of Excellence and promote Direct Trade coffees; coffees purchased direct from the farmers. They seek out and craft roast the finest coffees in the world while promoting socially and environmentally sustainable coffee.

Image: Peace Coffee
This is part five of our series this month on sustainability in the beverage industry.