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Raise the Bar: Terms & Definitions

fair trade, lower case: Term used to describe a movement that establishes markets for producers, usually farmers in developing countries, that break exploitative patterns by paying prices for raw goods that allow economic sustainability for small producers.

Fair Trade: An international certification organization with established standards of sustainable producer pay, cooperative membership, and infrastructure creation for producers. Membership is denoted by Fair Trade insignia on packaged goods.

FLO: Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International. An international fair trade system made up of Fairtrade International and its international member organizations—a partnership between producers and traders, businesses and consumers. FLO is the world's most recognized and respected fair trade system.

FOB: Free On Board. Describes the location of goods (green coffee in our context) as on board a shipping vessel at a port either before or after transport (as in, FOB Colombia). Allows import/export entities to accurately account for the price to ship coffee to faraway destinations. (The FOB price gets us closer to the amount of money actually paid to coffee farmers. That price, called the “farm gate” price, is sometimes difficult to know for coffee farmers, so the FOB price is the next best thing.)

C-market: Shorthand for the coffee commodity market, which determines the “C-price,” or the world-wide price of coffee. Unpredictable fluctuations in C-price and how they create economic hardship for millions of small coffee growers, is a leading factor that led to establishment of the fair trade coffee movement.

Coffee Buyer Cooperatives: Cooperatives operating on an international footing, designed as partnerships with, and supporters of, small coffee growers, their cooperatives and exporters.

Cooperative Coffees: A collective coffee importing venture established in 1997 cooperatively-owned by mission-aligned, small-scale U.S. coffee roasters.

Arabica: A species of coffee (Coffea) native to the mountain region of Ethiopia and now wide spread in many coffee growing countries. Generally considered the superior quality coffee, Arabica makes up 65% of the global coffee market.

Robusta: Making up 35% of the world coffee market, Robusta is a species of coffee that is more bitter and lower in acidity than Arabica. Originally from the lower altitude regions of western sub-Saharan Africa, Robusta has twice as much caffeine as Arabica, and is used primarily commercial and instant coffee products.

Green coffee: Unroasted coffee beans—which are actually the seed of a fruit, a coffee cherry. “Green” is the state of coffee beans when exported to world markets, where they are ultimately roasted by artisans and marketed. Also considered “raw” coffee beans.