Coffee is becoming a class issue — but not the way “fair trade” demonstrators think. By rallying for politically correct coffee, activists are raising the price of a cup of coffee for consumers.
Students for Fair Trade and other college groups are crusading for “fair-trade certified” coffee on campus. It’s part of an activist-backed movement that activists profit from: Mark Ritchie of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy also runs Peace Coffee, which sells “fair trade, organic, shade-grown coffees” for profit, at $9.50 per pound — twice what consumers pay today.
Certification means that “third-party monitors must have confirmed that farmers were paid a fair price for their beans,” The Seattle Times reports. That raises the price. “We’re not trying to stick it to the man or anything,” says one organizer. “We just want the best coffee for people and the environment on campus.” What about off campus? Maybe upper-class college kids will be glad to spend their parents’ money on pricey coffee, but average working Americans will not.