Fair trade coffee exchanges and community economies

Naylor, Lindsay

Despite the shortened commodity chain created for coffee through fair trade, there still exist a number of actors within certified commodity exchange. This chain is populated by disproportionately engaged actors, from a consumer looking for the certification seal, to coffee roasters working directly with coffee producing cooperatives, to producers striving to keep up with the standards for certification. Despite such disparities, connections are made between the roasters and the growers of coffee at multiple sites, from community-based projects to the transfer of knowledge and storytelling beyond the communities where coffee is cultivated. These connections suggest that fair trade exchanges potentially go beyond the sale of a commodity, the creation of surplus value and the connecting of producer and consumer. In this paper I draw on the expanding literature on diverse and community economies to examine fair trade exchanges. The heterogeneous space of the community economy provides a platform for considering the diversity of exchanges happening within, outside and alongside capitalism. In this paper I focus on fair trade certified coffee, moving beyond current explanations of fair trade as ‘alternative’ and working toward a multiplying of our understanding(s) of what fair trade is.

Suggested citation

Naylor, Lindsay. 2018. “Fair Trade Coffee Exchanges and Community Economies.” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 50 (5): 1027–46.