Your Coffee Is Getting Fancier, But Is It Getting Better For The World?

Monday, August 18, 2014

By Oscar Abello

“Steaming milk is a skill,” says Karen Cantor, co-founder of Chipped Cup Coffee, West Harlem’s first artisanal coffee shop.

“It actually really affects the taste,” she continues, her passion for crafting a latte clearly colored by her background in art history. “If you steam it to just the right temperature, and just the right consistency, it brings out this beautiful texture and sweetness.”

Cantor and co-founder Andrew Ding opened Chipped Cup in July 2012. “We were interested in adding value to the neighborhood,” Ding says, by trying to create a “community living room.” But as coffee culture becomes more and more refined, are coffee shops (and coffee drinkers) adding value to the rest of the world as they are to their neighborhoods?


Fair-Trade certified coffee has become known as an easy way for coffee drinkers to make the world a better place for coffee growers, many of whom are among the world’s poorest people. But a study released in April 2014 seriously questions how much fair-trade certification really does for them.

Limited to 12 research sites in Ethiopia and Uganda, the study found that non-fair-trade certified farms paid better wages and provided better working conditions than fair-trade certified farms. The study authors surveyed 1,700 farm workers, going beyond the usual farm owner or farming co-op member that has historically been the beneficiary at the heart of fair trade’s story.

Source: Fast Company (link opens in a new window)