Sep 2011 21

Top Fair Trade Coffee Shops in Vancouver

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The majority of Vancouverites enjoy a good cup of coffee. There is a coffee shop on every corner, offering either very nice sit-in or to-go coffee. Each cup of coffee differs not only in taste, but also in its means of trade. The question is, what is the difference between a regular and a fair trade cup of coffee?

How Does the Fair Trade Work?

Fair Trade Certified Coffee makes sure that farmers are guaranteed to receive consistent living wages. On top of that, Fair Trade bonuses are added to received wages. These are used to provide healthcare and education for farmers and their families. All farmers are allowed and encouraged to associate freely, and no children under the age of 15 are employed in coffee cooperatives. Because it takes about four years to reap an appreciable harvest from the time of planting, pre-harvest lines of credit are made readily accessible to all farmers should an unforeseeable event such as a drought occur.

The wage of a fair trade farmer is calculated by incorporating both living and production costs. Also, the fair trade price offered to independent farmers is much higher. When purchasing Fair Trade coffee, both sides win. Shoppers can enjoy high-quality coffee and their purchases are ethical because farmers in developing countries will be getting fair amounts of money, which will raise their living standards significantly.

Let’s take Tanzania for example. When taking into account that the Fair Trade price is $1.60 per pound, including a ten-cent premium, the result is astonishing. Farmers working for non-fair trade cooperatives will earn half of the fair trade cooperative employee.

If you want an easy way to find various fair trade products, check out this map. If you’re more interested in the idea of fair trade, OXFAM-Canada has prepared a very nice facilitator’s guide, including workshops on the fair trade topic.

Agro Café


You can find Agro Café in Railspur Alley, one of the most charming places on Granville Island. The first hint that will tell you that you’re approaching a place with very good coffee is how busy it is. Agro Café on the weekends is very busy! The open, wood-frame interior is quite comfortable and allows you to fully enjoy your coffee. The food this café offers is a bit more pricey, but since it’s all house-made, it’s worth it. The coffee offered is organic and fair trade, and (this might impress coffee-lovers) they even roast their own coffee. The café has a wi-fi connection, of course. If you’re not planning to visit Granville Island any time soon, you can always visit the other Agro coffee shop on Hamilton Street.

Trees Organic Coffee

Trees Organic Coffee Trees Organic Coffee

This is a place that every single lover of good coffee and cheesecakes should visit. The coffee is roasted in house, at off hours, and always used up during the day, which gives you a unique opportunity to experience one of the best coffees in town. The other part of the “must" experience in Trees Organic Coffee is their cheesecakes. People from all around Vancouver come just to experience that delicious burst of flavours. Although the cakes are a bit more expensive here, you’re not going to regret a mouthful. You can find Trees Organic Coffee at these locations: Downtown Vancouver, Gastown Vancouver, Richmond Library & Cultural Centre, and Yaletown.

Salt Spring Coffee

Salt Spring Coffee Salt Spring Coffee

Salt Spring Coffee is located in heart of town on Main Street. Salt Spring Coffee was voted the best fair trade coffee shop by Georgia Strait readers in 2010. The Salt Spring Coffee shop is very nice for at least one reason: their consistency. You won’t always get the best coffee in town, but they never go under their set standard. You can always be sure that you’ll get the same quality coffee, pastries, and sandwiches any time you come here, along with the pleasant surroundings and attitude of the barristas. The place is a bit smaller; however, the atmosphere here compensates for the tighter seating scheme, and huge windows allow you to enjoy the view of Main Street fully.

Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar

Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar is another great place to enjoy your coffee on Main Street. The charm of this place, apart from their fair trade coffee option, comes from its opening hours. This place never closes, so if you have a sudden urge for a coffee, this is the place to go. If you visit Grind & Gallery Coffee Bar during exam period, you’ll stumble upon quite a few students taking advantage of the never-ending input of caffeine and free wi-fi access.

Take 5 Café

Take 5 Cafe Take 5 Cafe

Take 5 Café might seem like a surprising choice when you’re putting together a list of the best fair trade cafes in Vancouver, mainly because of its location in a shopping mall. Although it’s off-putting for some people, everybody has to shop from time to time, and it’s nice to know that there is a quiet place to go in the middle of a busy shopping centre. Comfortable seating under the glass dome combined with a variety of beverages and coffee makes it an ideal place to rest after your new suit or shoes hunt.

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