Why Buy Fair-Trade or Direct-Trade Coffee and Chocolates?

Why you should care

Buying chocolate directly from farmers mean higher quality chocolates and education too.

by Hey Social Good

When buying fair-trade or direct-trade coffee or chocolate, many people will find words, “fair or direct”, as stamps of approval. It’s true, it feels good to buy products with these certifications. But what exactly does fair-trade and direct-trade mean, and how should it affect your decision to buy?

It’s important to understand what stands behind these certification terms because it will help you make a more informed decision that aligns with your values. Fair Trade is a global movement that certifies goods like coffee and chocolate – making sure the products are abiding by strict standards. Fair Trade standards encourage environmental friendliness and that the people involved producing the goods are treated fairly. Direct Trade is when consumers buy directly from the growers, cutting out any middleman buyers or sellers. For example, direct trade companies will produce coffee and chocolate goods and deliver the goods through mail to paying customers. 

Main Difference

The main difference between fair trade and direct trade is the end result of the growing process. Fair trade aims to improve the farmers quality assurance, while direct trade focuses on the quality of the product itself. 


When buying coffee and chocolate with the ‘fair trade’ label, there are clear structure, guidelines, and policy on how to fairly pay farmers a market price for their coffee, tea, cocoa beans. If you’re concerned about how your coffee and chocolate is made, fair trade goes through an audit called FLO-CERT. It’s a system created to check that every fair trade label is reliable and that each producer has been paid the fair trade price. One challenge with fair-trade is the many Fair-Trade certifications labels that exist. For example, there is Fair-Trade International, Fair-Trade Certified, Fair-Trade America, and a few more. Overall, this certification indicates the efforts to ensure fair wages across the board, but in some instances, too many middle-men and differences in a low percentage of a product with fairly traded crop may water down the label. There are many fair-trade products to choose from besides coffees and chocolates.


When buying coffee and chocolate with ‘direct trade’ labels, you are buying directly from the coffee and chocolate farmers themselves. This is beneficial because the company will not do well if the product isn’t good. Instead of buying from a third party vendor, you will be buying directly from the growers. Buying directly from the growers ensures the following:

  • Company pays a higher premiums to farmers than those mandated by fair trade;
  • Partners directly with individual farmers and processors, regardless of size or membership in a cooperative;
  • Helps to eliminate Fair-Trade Certification fees (e.g. fees, dues, and surcharges);
  • Company fosters transparency and better personal relationships, price negotiation, and information sharing with the growers, farmers, and harvesters.

Why Are These Labels Important?

When buying coffee and chocolate products, do a bit of reading to see how the company describes their work with the growers. We find the companies who partner directly really want you to know their story. Fair trade and direct trade is not an ethical choice, it comes down to which company or farmers you choose to support.

Few Facts

  • Depending on the farm, growers can be treated very well or very poorly. That is why it is important to research where you are getting your coffee and chocolate products from. 
  • Fair-trade and direct trade are labels that tell the consumer what the company does. These labels do not indicate the treatment of their workers and farmers.
  • Coffee and chocolate commodities labeled ‘fair trade’ and ‘direct trade’ both have their benefits. Fair trade improves the lives of farmers and direct trade puts focus on the quality of the product. I would recommend trying both and picking the one that best suits you! 

Keywords: Coffee; fair trade; direct trade; chocolate; fair trade coffee; fair trade chocolate; direct trade coffee; direct trade chocolate; flo-cert audit; FLO-CERT; ethical production; fair treatment of farmers; farmers; fair-trade and direct-trade coffee and chocolates

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