Location:

What’s a Fair Trade for Excellent Coffee?

Voiced by Amazon Polly

How much do you care about fair trade?

I mean, it’s all companies, particularly coffee companies, seem to talk about these days. Don’t worry, that Grande frappe latte with cream on top and sprinkles isn’t the result of hard labor with a low payoff.

But what does it actually mean to be fair trade, and why is it so important? Actually, forget those questions – we’ve got a better one. Who introduced fair trade to the coffee industry?

Before there was fair trade, it was easy to turn a blind eye. I mean, who can really put their hand up and say that they were thinking about the welfare of the people at the source? All you cared about at that point was your cream not mixing with the coffee.

Meet a company that didn’t just utilize fair trade because they thought it was ‘trendy.’ No no no. In fact, they couldn’t have possibly done it for this reason because they were the ones that introduced fair trade to the coffee industry. So they did it to get closer to the source and get you guilt-tripping the next time you throw caution to the wind and decide to support someone who doesn’t do fair trade coffee.

Intelligentsia is a holistic bunch. This is because they appreciate the journey that their coffee’s been on – not just the end result. They want to put the spotlight on the people at the beginning of the journey and connect you to them in a way that’s worthy of Hallmark.

Where does this all begin, then, and who are the masterminds behind this crazy concept? Emily Mange and Doug Zell put their heads together in 1995 and decided that enough was enough. They were sick of drinking sub-par coffee – it just wasn’t cutting it.

Emily and Doug decided to take their little coffee dream to Chicago, opening a retail store and coffee bar in one of the more hipster areas. Their passion led them to utilize ancient artifacts for coffee brewing equipment and roasting their coffee on-site, right behind where you stand and stare at the menu.

As you can imagine, like many successful businesses out there, Intelligentsia grew. 22 years later, and guess what – they’re still growing.

They’ve managed to spread their wings and infiltrate another five American cities, bringing the total to six. With training labs, coffee bars, and Roasting Works, they’ve got a pretty sweet, happy little coffee family going on.

Now, let’s get back to that fair trade business. Emily and Doug wanted to pioneer the fair trade movement for a couple of reasons.

The first was to cut the fat. Who needs go-betweens when you can do it all yourself? Plus, how are you supposed to form a relationship with the people cultivating and growing your coffee beans if you’ve got three or four degrees of separation?

Intelligentsia has recruited a team of coffee travelers. They make their way around the globe every year, sniffing out the best of the best and spending time every day on the ground floor with the growers.

This isn’t just a tick of the box kind of deal, though. These aren’t half-hearted audits where they report back to the mainland with a ‘good enough’ kind of report. These people are meticulously collecting data and analyzing all different types of practices in order to improve the overall quality of the product and ensure that their growers’ livelihoods are up to standard.

This leads to a well-earned ego that swells with pride when Intelligentsia talks about their coffee. Yes, they believe that their coffee is the best. They also believe that they’ve earned this title, and there’s not much room for argument when you try it.

So: fair trade, six American cities, traveling coffee team. You get it. Let’s try some coffee.

Intelligentsia Coffee Blends/Single Origin Coffee

La Tortuga Honduras Special Selection: farmer, Fabio Antonio Caballero, is pretty chuffed with his coffee. His direct trade, single origin coffee is taking America by storm – and it’s in season, too. If you’re a citrusy, flowery type of person, this is your go-to brew.

With light sugars to finish off the delicate bittersweet taste of this coffee, you’ll find yourself sitting around wondering when its next season is. With four years of harvesting under his belt, Fabio is looking ahead with a fair bit of optimism that he’ll be able to continue producing the same quality in his coffee.

Kurimi Organic Ethiopia: if you’ve never experienced an Ethiopian coffee, then you haven’t really experienced coffee. If you don’t already know, then it’s time: Ethiopia is the coffee capital of the world. You really can’t do too much better than Ethiopia when it comes to your brew.

This organic single-origin coffee is a tropical trip passionfruit and honeydew melon dominating the flavor profile. Coming in at a close second (or third?) is lemon curd, allowing for a zingy tang to mix beautifully with mesmerizing aromatics of floral.

El Diablo Dark Roast: let’s leave single origins for a second and experience what happens when Intelligentsia blends their coffees together. Trust us; it’s nothing short of magical. While El Diablo dark roast will vary from season to season, you can expect a flavor bomb with every cup.

If you’re typically a sweet person, you won’t want to start the day without a cup of El Diablo. This brew is dominated by flavors of molasses, chocolate, and caramelized sugars. This may lead you into thinking that this coffee is soft and sweet – but it packs a punch.

All these flavors prepare you for the robust resonant finish that will surprise you every time.

Who said that luxury and fair trade couldn’t go hand in hand? We all know the price we pay for products like fur and leather – and the price tag isn’t the only thing that’s sickening.

You’ll sleep better knowing that at least one part of your daily routine shuns dodgy practices and uplifts those who are doing all the hard work. After all, you don’t have to do anything to earn your cup of coffee in the morning – so let’s support those who do.

Bolivian Wine: from the Andes to your Table story image

September 29 Bolivian Wine

Bolivian Wine: from the Andes to your Table

Bolivia may not instantly come to mind when one thinks of wine, but the South American country has a long and rich viticulture history that dates back to the arrival of the Spanish missionaries, who first planted vines around the wealthy silver-mining city of Potosi in the mid-16th century.

The ‘Arabica’ Whisperer story image

September 25 Coffee Producers

The ‘Arabica’ Whisperer

The best part of waking up? Well, it’s coffee, of course.

Humanity truly runs on this beverage that helps millions of people around the world wake up, work and function. And if it’s of the Arabica variety, its delicious ‘kick’ will keep you going strong all day long.

New Orleans: a mix of cultures gives birth to great cocktails story image

September 25 cocktails

New Orleans: a mix of cultures gives birth to great cocktails

Indigenous people called the area where New Orleans now sits as “Balbancha” (land of many tongues).

It’s still an apt name for the Crescent City.

Anyone who’s visited this Southern gem is immediately struck by the confluence of cultures there.

Alejandro Campos, A Chocolate Connoisseur story image

September 20 Cacao

Alejandro Campos, A Chocolate Connoisseur

It’s the most delicious, rich, and savory treat, protects against heart disease and a number of other ailments, and it’s one of Latin American contributions to the U.S. and the world.

Raise a toast to Latino Heritage Month story image

September 15 Latino Heritage Month

Raise a toast to Latino Heritage Month

The Empire State Building kicked off Latino Heritage Month by shining red, white and green colors onto the New York skylight on September 15 in honor of the Mexican flag.

Smart Labels Make Spirits Come Alive story image

August 25 Marketing

Smart Labels Make Spirits Come Alive

Smart appliances, smart clothing and now smart wines, ciders, and beers.

In a crowded shelf of wines, ciders and beers, all promoting how good they are, how can they stand out among the rest? In an increasingly connected world, the way to go is with the label, smart labels, that is.

PEOPLE ARE STRANGE: Jim Morrison story image

August 16 Music

PEOPLE ARE STRANGE: Jim Morrison

Jim was quoted in his poetic nature: “Being drunk is a good disguise.” He said. “It means I can talk to assholes.”

Beer, Wine and Whiskey Turn to Paper Bottle story image

August 15 Marketing

Beer, Wine and Whiskey Turn to Paper Bottle

Companies are looking for sustainable packaging

Spirits companies have always touted the flavor, sophistication and quality of their drinks. Now they’re promoting not only that, but also how sustainable they are.

Hennessy: The Cognac of Hip Hop & Civil Rights (Part 2) story image

May 31 Civil rights

Hennessy: The Cognac of Hip Hop & Civil Rights (Part 2)

It’s safe to say we would all agree Hennessy and Hip-Hop are associated with each other in a special way. We would even go as far to say, Hennessy has reached global iconic status thanks to that fact. That being said, while the cognac of hip-hop was catapulted to its iconic stature thanks to the help of artist like Tupac and Nas, what we don’t know by looking at the surface is that Hennessy has a long standing tradition of supporting people of African decent.

Hennessy: The Cognac of Hip Hop & Civil Rights (Part 1) story image

April 19 Cognac

Hennessy: The Cognac of Hip Hop & Civil Rights (Part 1)

It’s safe to say we would all agree Hennessy and Hip-Hop are associated with each other in a special way. We would even go as far to say, Hennessy has reached global iconic status thanks to that fact. That being said, while the cognac of hip-hop was catapulted to its iconic stature thanks to the help of artist like Tupac and Nas, what we don’t know by looking at the surface is that Hennessy has a long standing tradition of supporting people of African decent.

The First “Shot” Ever Served: A Tale of the West story image

July 15 shots

The First “Shot” Ever Served: A Tale of the West

It’s always a race against the heat in the West. Hell, there’s a score of difference races around here. There’s a race to the riches and a race to the hills where the riches lay. There’s a race to food and shelter and the means in which a man might make to get them. There’s a race to the women and to the brothels and saloons where you can find them at. I don’t look for my women in those places but I often find myself in them for other races. Mine is a race to whiskey. It’s only a matter of time before I find myself in one today.

Portugal, a Wine Lover’s Guide story image

May 26 Portuguese Wine

Portugal, a Wine Lover’s Guide

Portugal has a long history of wine making and an endless varietal of wine grapes with enough distinctive personalities to satisfy the most demanding oenophile. The different regions of this small nation that welcomes Western travelers as they head into continental Europe grow characteristically different grapes that produce singular wines, each uniquely suited to different palates.

Mónica Marín story image

October 08 Bordeaux

Mónica Marín

Discover why Bordeaux-Style Wines are so unique.
Produced in the Bordeaux region of the southwest of France, these wines are famous for their consistent excellence.

x