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A hot cup of socio-global awareness

Tri-City Herald

A sweet, fruity aroma with full body and notes of flower and chocolate will greet the palates of visitors to Barracuda Coffee Co. in Richland this afternoon.

Cups of the Rwandan certified fair trade coffee from Doma Coffee Roasting Co., will be available to customers for free from 1 to 6 p.m. to celebrate Fair Trade Coffee Break, part of World Fair Trade Day today.

“We’re going to find the best coffee we can. If it’s fair trade, we’ll buy it, even if it costs a little more,” said Bill Pogue, Barracuda’s owner.

He wants to make sure his customers get the best tasting product possible, but he also likes the idea of supporting the farmers who produce the beans for his shop.


All of Barracuda’s regular coffee is certified fair trade, which means farmers are paid fair wages in local context, they’re able to build long-term trade relationships, work environments are safe and healthy and farmers use environmentally sustainable practices, according to the Fair Trade Resource Network, which coordinates the fair trade day.

The goal of the coffee break is to get as many people drinking fair trade beverages as possible at the same time, to “celebrate those who produce the things that we buy,” according to the Resource Network’s website.

Coffee drinkers can find fair trade coffee at a few shops throughout the Tri-Cities, including Brulant in Kennewick.

“We don’t want anybody to be exploited,” said manager Stephanie Benson. “We want to take care of (the farmers) because they’re providing us a service.”

Many people aren’t aware of the extensive life of a coffee bean and the process it takes to grow and dry a bean, she said.

And buying the fair trade beans from Zoka Coffee Roaster of Seattle doesn’t cost more than conventional beans, Benson said.

That’s because the fair trade system eliminates the middlemen from the equation, according to the Resource Network.

Lora Rathbone of Richland started selling fair trade coffee at her church, Shalom United Church of Christ, about three years ago.

“(Coffee) is something that so many of us use. So many of us can make a difference,” Rathbone said. “I just feel like once you know how (fair trade) is benefiting the farmer that’s growing your coffee you want to do the right thing.”

Fair trade is about helping people sustain themselves rather than giving handouts, she added.

She also sells fair trade chocolate, which is her top seller, Rathbone said.

Pogue, Benson and Rathbone all agreed that awareness about fair trade will likely grow, similar to the way organic products have recently exploded in popularity.

“It’s whether people choose to care about it or not,” Benson said.

Mindfulness is a buyer’s responsibility, Rathbone said.

“Be aware of the impact we have on the world by our consumer choices,” she said.

* On the Net: World Fair Trade Day and Fair Trade Coffee Break, www.fairtraderesource.org.


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