Mirembe Kawomera

coffee-beans.jpgYou should buy Fair Trade Coffee.

If you drink coffee, that is. If you aren’t, I’m not recommending that you create a new addiction, but if you happen to be like me and millions of other hopelessly addicted caffeine junkies, you should at least be aware of the larger economic implications of your habit.

Some basic facts: coffee is the second most actively traded commodity in the world, after oil. Since 1990, retail sales of coffee have increased to $80 billion from $30 billion. Globally, about 2 billion cups of coffee are consumed a day – and 400 million of those are in the United States. Four multinational corporations (Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, Nestle, and Sara Lee) control 70% of the world coffee market, with the international price determined in New York and London.

At the other end of the equation, more than 25 million farmers and coffee laborers depend upon coffee cultivation for their livelihood. Most of them live in dire poverty because the price of coffee has fallen drastically in recent years. By drinking Fair Trade Coffee, you are supporting efforts to guarantee coffee farmers and workers a fixed price for their product, which in turn will help support the sustainable development of their communities. (Fair Trade has more than just economic implications, however. Click this link to learn more.)

Why is a rabbi going on about Fair Trade Coffee? Because I believe it’s a mitzvah to drink it. After all, Judaism teaches us over and over again to be socially responsible consumers, to act justly toward workers and to alleviate poverty in our world. So what could be more Jewish than drinking Fair Trade Coffee?

My personal favorite is Mirembe Kawomera (“Delicious Peace”), a Fair Trade Coffee produced by a Ugandan Jewish/Muslim/Christian cooperative. It is distributed in the US through Thanksgiving Coffee and can be easily bought via the Internet.

So you should drink Fair Trade Coffee. And if you want to support economic justice AND interfaith cooperation in a world that desperately needs both, you should drink Mirembe Kawomera.

6 thoughts on “Mirembe Kawomera

  1. Shai Gluskin

    Paying attention to where things come from and the consequences of our choices is an important practice. My struggle is over what to pay attention to and what not to pay attention to.

    Ever since I found out that Amazon.com is particularly unfriendly to the special web browsers designed for blind people has crushed my enthusiasm for that site. But it hasn’t stopped me from using it. It’s just so darn convenient.

    David Sedaris points out the self-serving nature of fancy hotels suggesting that their clients can help “save the world” by not asking that their sheets be replaced every night. The biggest impact the guest could make would be by not staying at the hotel at all! Conduct the business by video conference or stay with friends!

    I mention this not to diminish Rabbi Brant’s point/suggestion, but just to acknowledge my own struggle about how I order my carings.

    Mazel tov on the new blog! Awesome.

  2. Stan Cohn

    Bravo Brant!

    While I don’t drink coffee, the harvesting of cocoa beans (which I do readily consume) also has many of the same fair trade issues as coffee, as well as issues of land use (efficient use of both lower plants while maintaining presence of higher canopy plants in forests).

    So here’s a push for fair trade chocolates as well.

    Some places you can find information and ways to purchase fair trade chocolate are:


    May your blog blossom and bloom, and may our choices mirror our values.

  3. Dad

    Hey B

    I’m looking forward to having another important info resource.

    A question: does the ugandan or other free trade coffees have an instant coffee product for those of us who want our cup of java after adding hot water or am I a member of another discriminated minority?


  4. Ann Herbach

    To “Dad”: An answer to instant coffee: Use a one cup coffee cone with filter that sits on a mug. Pour hot water over grounds. It’s as quick as instant and better.

    We are fans of Intelligentsia coffee. See an indepth description of their “Intelligentsia Direct Trade” and how it compares to fair trade at http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/origin/directtrade
    It’s great coffee!

  5. JimMc

    Not to create more coffee cacophony, but it’s possible to commit 2 mitzvah’s in one here: buy your fair trade coffee from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Like their webpage says, great coffee for a great cause.

    Good luck on the blog! I look forward to reading it.

  6. Barbara Penzner


    As always, you are the lightning rod for the rest of us.

    Our temple sells “Triple Mitzvah Coffee”–it’s fair trade, saves the rainforest and is a fundraiser for the shul. We get it from Pierce Brothers and you can buy it on-line:

    I hope you enjoy the names (Chai Test is my favorite).
    I raise my mug to your blog!

    Wishing you a dull an uneventful Heshvan,


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