Fairtrade Fortnight coffee taste test

In the lead up to Fairtrade Fortnight, Co-operative News held a blind taste-testing of a selection of Fairtrade coffees – all of which have a co-operative connection. Here...

In the lead up to Fairtrade Fortnight, Co-operative News held a blind taste-testing of a selection of Fairtrade coffees – all of which have a co-operative connection.

Here are our favourite ten, with the most popular getting a special stamp of approval…


suma ethiopia hararSuma: Ethiopia Harar

Origin: Ethiopia

Strength: 4

They say: A ‘dry natural’ coffee, sun dried in its fruit cherry, creating a full bodied chocolatey coffee with a distinctive wine flavour and blueberry aroma.

We say: Although this is a stronger coffee, our tasters found it refreshing with a prominent fruity aroma – very drinkable.

The co-op connection: As well as Suma itself being a worker co-operative, Suma’s Ethiopia Harar coffee is from the primary co-ops in the Harar region of Ethiopia, affiliated to Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union. Oromia is the region where coffee first originated and it is by the Oromo people that the usage of coffee as a food started in the beginning of the 5th century.

Kingdom Honduras - most popularKingdom: Honduras filter

Origin: Honduras

Strength: 3

They say: A single origin, 100% Arabica medium bodied coffee with a delicate mixture of sweet tropical fruits, caramel and mild nuts to finish.

We say: A very nutty coffee, with a full body and a delicious lingering aftertaste – one of the most popular with our tasters.

The co-op connection: Kingdom Coffee is a Fairtrade and ethical tea and coffee supplier that has charitable partnerships with Toybox, Latin Link and Tearfund. This coffee is produced by the Honduras Coctecal co-operative, founded in 2006 and primarily made up of members from the Lempira Township. Lempira is a subsistent farming area, its coffee being intercropped with mangoes, rice and black beans.

co-op guatamala coffeeCo-operative Food: Guatemalan fairtrade roast and ground coffee

Origin: Guatemala

Strength: 4

They say: Full-bodied coffee with blackberry notes and a dark sweetness.

We say: Earthy and sweet, this strong coffee was among the most bitter we tried. An fruity aroma with a lingering honey sweetness.

The co-op connection: Co-operative Food is supporting 12 primary coffee co-operatives in Guatamala, which are members of FEDECOCAGUA (The Federación de Cooperativas Agrícolas Guatemala), a second-level co-operative founded in 1969 to improve the position of small-scale coffee growers.

tim peaks coffee cutout for webTim Peaks: ground coffee blend

Origin: Africa and South and Central America

Strength: 3

They say: Medium strength, smooth, perky, unique.

We say: A sparky coffee with an organic aroma and a very full body.

The co-op connection: Tim Peaks Coffee was founded by The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess.

It works with Coocafe and Copracel, both Fairtrade certified coffee producing co-operatives in Central and South America that ensure fair and stable prices for their farmers.


Revolver - most popularRevolver: Cuba Del Escambray Crystal Mountain

Origin: Cuba

Strength: 5

They say: Naturally sun-dried, a rich and rounded strong coffee with low acidity; intense aroma with an elegant and delicate sweetness

We say: Another favourite with our tasters, we agree this is a very intense coffee, with a rich and toasty aroma and a lingering sweetness.

The co-op connection: Revolver coffees are co-operative ‘from field to store’. Crystal Mountain coffee is grown by 200 farmers in Cuba’s Cuatro Vientos region.

Our tasters were asked to give their thoughts on aroma, taste and intensity before ranking their top three choices
Our tasters were asked to give their thoughts on aroma, taste and intensity before ranking their top three choices



Waitrose coffee for webWaitrose: Colombian ground coffee

Origin: Colombia

Strength: 3

They say: Rich, smooth and well balanced.

We say: A very popular coffee that nearly made it onto our most popular list, this has a citrussy aroma and an earthy flavour and silky body.

The co-op connection: Waitrose, the food retail division of Britain’s largest employee-owned retailer, the John Lewis Partnership, builds long-term relationships with Fairtrade farmers and suppliers.


Esperanza_BB_HR for webTaylors of Harrogate: Esperanza

Origin: Peru

Strength: 4

They say: Smooth, sweet and balanced with chocolate and berry notes.

We say: Very smooth and chocolatey, with cream, cocoa and cherry notes – Black Forest gateau in liquid form.

The co-op connection: All Taylors of Harrogate coffee comes from independently certified farms and co-operatives – and its limited edition Esperanza coffee comes from Pangoa, a Fairtrade women’s co-operative in San Martín de Pangoa, Peru. Named after Esperanza Dionisio Castillo, the manager of the co-op, sales of this coffee contributes a long-lasting relationship that works towards gender equality in the region. Taylors is also donating an additional premium from this coffee to help fund women’s healthcare.

Case study: Read more about Esperanza coffee here.

equal exchange - most popularEqual Exchange: Dark City Roast 

Origin: Peru

Strength: 4

They say: Deep body and velvety smoothness; a perfect after-dinner or early morning wake up coffee.

We say: Amazing woody aroma, with notes of cocoa nibs. A fresh flavour and a delicious lingering aftertaste.

The co-op connection: The Equal Exchange worker co-op works with small-scale co-operatives – this coffee is grown by women members of UNICAFEC, a small cooperative with 408 members, 89 of which are women farmer members, that is based in the small town of San Ignacio in northern Peru on the border with Ecuador.

Case study: Read more about Equal Exchange here.

Cafe Direct - most popularCafédirect: Moreish medium roast

Origin: Africa and Latin America

Strength: 3

They say: Smooth, balanced and full flavoured. Rich aromas, vibrant and medium-bodied with a balanced smooth finish. Milk chocolate and caramel aromas.

We say: Roast chestnut and bitter- sweet chocolate aromas, extremely smooth with a balanced aftertaste.

The co-op connection: Cafédirect was the first coffee to carry the  Fairtrade label in the UK, and the organisation reinvests at least 50% of profits back into the co-ops and communities of producers it works with.

Simon Levelt DolceSimon Lévelt: Dolce Mild Arabica

Origin: South America

Strength: 3

They say: Full bodied, organic coffee with a rich aroma.

We say: One of the most distinctive coffees we tried. Notes of sage and cereals, with a lingering citrussy aftertaste.

The co-op connection: Netherlands-based Simon Lévelt supports workers through buying directly from coffee plantations in South America. Its Tierra Nova Fund, mainly funded from Simon Lévelt’s profits, promotes the development of sustainable farming methods and the improvement of the working conditions for coffee and tea producers.

  • You can find more information and articles about Fairtrade Fortnight here.
  • This feature was supported by Unicorn Grocery, a workers co-operative in South Manchester that sells wholesome produce with a focus on organic, Fairtrade and local sourcing.
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