Valarie Cooper, Kauai Coffee Fair Trade Committee President presents Kauai Habitat for Humanity a check for $17,205 from the Fair Trade Community Development Fund. Photo: Dennis Fujimoto / Garden Island

Fair Trade Committee Empowers Island Community with Development Fund Distribution

More than $180,000 Distributed to Community Organizations and Employees 

Photo: Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island 

As the largest coffee farm in the USA, Kauai Coffee makes waves for growing exceptional Hawaiian coffee. We're also committed to growing that coffee in a way that conserves natural resources and provides a safe, healthy, and positive work environment for everyone involved in its production. That's why we began the rigorous Fair Trade™ certification process for our 100% Hawaiian coffee in 2018 and earned the unique distinction of being triple-certified by leading sustainability advocates soon after.

We're proud to display our commitment to sustainability and these certification seals on our packaging, but we're even more excited to share that our first distribution of Fair Trade Community Development funds has dispensed $180,000 to employees and charitable organizations across Kauai addressing the most pressing needs of our community. If you have ever purchased a bag of Kauai Coffee with the Fair Trade™ seal, you've made a big difference for Kauai. Continue reading to find out how.

three bags of 100% kauai coffee sit on a table. Each bag displays the Fair trade mark. A blurred image of the na pali coast is visible in the background.

What is Fair Trade Certification?

Fair Trade is a global movement that began after World War II to connect marginalized workers to global markets. Today the Fair Trade movement is supported by a diverse network of producers, companies, customers, and organizations working together to build a more equitable trade model worldwide. In 1988, coffee was the first product to carry a Fair Trade mark. Ten years later, Fair Trade USA® was established with a handful of partners and has become the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America.

A rainbow arches over the Kauai Coffee visitor center

Qualifying for Fair Trade Certification

When you see a product with the Fair Trade Certified seal, you can be sure its producer meets rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards, including:

  • Safe working conditions
  • Environmental protection
  • Sustainable livelihoods
  • Distribution of Community Development Funds

While our 100% Hawaiian coffee is Fair Trade USA certified, being a 100% USA product, all of our coffee is grown under working conditions held to the same high standards as the rest of the United States. Our employees receive a full range of benefits for themselves and their families. And now, they are also empowered to address the most significant needs in our community with Fair Trade Community Development Funds.

Fair Trade Community Development Funds

A vital aspect of Fair Trade certification is the distribution of Community Development Funds. These funds are generated through a small premium paid by buyers of Fair Trade certified products. The premium is then invested into a Community Development Fund managed and owned by Kauai Coffee employees.

"The idea is to empower employees to use the development funds to address their families' and surrounding communities' most pressing needs, such as food security, housing, access to education and child care, health services, and other health and sanitation issues," said Valerie Cooper, Kauai Coffee Fair Trade Committee President.

Kauai Coffee Fair Trade Committee Distributes Community Development Funds to Kauai INdependent Food Bank

Photo: Dennis Fujimoto/ The Garden Island

Premium participants like Kauai Coffee must elect a committee tasked with creating a plan to spend the funds based on a needs assessment. Our Fair Trade Committee comprises elected representatives from each area of the Kaua'i Coffee workforce and is a nonprofit established as an entity separate from Kaua'i Coffee.

Following expenses, the committee splits the fund into internal distribution that goes to employee participants through cash bonuses or in-kind goods and external distributions for organizations or projects within the community that address needs decided on by the committee. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the distribution process, but we are pleased to report that more than $100,000 in community development funds from 2021 and 2022 have been distributed to community organizations and $80,000 to staff. 

Kauai coffee employee shares a shaka and a smile

Empowering the Kauai Community

Investing in Fair Trade certified Kauai Coffee directly supports the Kauai community. This year, the Kauai Coffee committee selected six charitable organizations, and each received a check for more than $17,000! Your Kauai Coffee purchases helped:

We believe in the power of Fair Trade and its ability to transform communities. By choosing our 100% Hawaiian Fair Trade certified coffee, you not only savor the exceptional flavors of Kauai but actively contribute to the well-being of the Kauai community. Shop online, and together, we can nurture a sustainable future, support local initiatives, and make a positive difference in the lives of those who call Kauai home.

To learn more about Kauai Coffee's Fair Trade certification and the inspiring work our community development funds support, visit:

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