Local coffee houses bypass Fair Trade, working directly with growers to get them more money
"But if we're taking into account the added value, I'd say that we get 50 percent more in added value when we work through Fair Trade," says Ramirez. "There's a long list of things we consider added value, and the largest added value Fair Trade allows us is knowledge."
Ramirez says he believes that Fair Trade has significantly helped his community. "Farmers are happy in Fair Trade because it's a model that respects them. And it's a model that gives farmers a guide on how to develop themselves better."
In 2010 his cooperative received $8 million in premiums to invest in the community. And yet he says, "The situation is a bit difficult because the cost of living has gone up a lot. In Costa Rica, there's a higher cost of living than in other countries. We have a really high tax environment in Costa Rica, and also really low production so it doesn't allow the country to have a lot of economic development." In the end, consumers can choose to buy a pound of Peet's Fair Trade Coffee for $15.95, or a pound of Ritual's Los Crestones coffee for $22.50 and know that it was produced in Costa Rica by Grace Calderón Jiménez before I probably watched it being roasted here in San Francisco.
* This article was changed to correct the name of the organization and its trademark.