Why aren’t all the coffees Organic and Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a good program. It has done much to raise consumer awareness of the historical exploitation of labor in the coffee industry. It (Fair Trade) has also been the catalyst in the creation of many health clinics, schools, potable wells, income diversification programs, etc. at various coffee growing/processing co-ops around the world. For this reason, Utopian Coffee Co. is a licensed Fair Trade retailer.
However, Fair Trade is structured in such a way that certain farms, despite equitable treatment of workers, will never be eligible for Fair Trade status. Family owned estates, for instance, cannot become Fair Trade certified because they are not cooperatives. Therefore, we at UTOPIAN Coffee Co. have chosen to expand our coffees beyond exclusively Fair Trade Certified offerings.

We are committed to buying only the very finest green coffees from around the world. To achieve the level of quality we require, farmers must work with the most competent harvesters and processors. This level of work-quality commands a better wage and fairer treatment. Therefore, simply by committing to buy only the very best coffees, companies like Utopian go a long way toward ensuring that their coffees are ethically sourced. It would be naive and irresponsible though, to stop there. Thus, we have achieved our Fair Trade Certification and created partnerships like the one with Run for Congo Women (Women for Women International). We are committed to social justice, because for us coffee is a luxury, but for them coffee is a livelihood.

Another important aspect of coffee stewardship is environmental and ecological responsibility. To that end, we are also Organic Certified. However, it is important to note that many conventional, or non-organic coffees, are grown sustainably. The level of coffee quality necessary to meet Utopian standards is such that it requires years of meticulous care for the land, careful tree selection, and deliberate pruning. The farms from which we source our coffee are long-established, sustainable operations. It behooves a quality-conscious farmer to tend his land carefully in order to produce ever-finer harvests. Simplified, we partner with growers who are in quality coffee for the long haul, and those farmers must care for their land in order to provide for their families long-term. Therefore, upon achieving our Organic Certification, we feature certified organic coffees, however, we don’t restrict ourselves to exclusively organics, as we want you to have the best selection possible, not just from the farmers who can afford to pay for the certifications.