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An Anniversary Brew to Share with You: Celebrating 75 Years of Fair Trade

Bag of Ten Thousand Villages' 75th Anniversary coffee sits with a white mug and red flowers on a white background. Bag label says "Sip with intention, share in the joy."

This year at Ten Thousand Villages, we’re celebrating! And we’d like you to join us (more on that in a moment). In 2021 we celebrate 75 years since our founder, Edna Ruth Byler first witnessed the effects of economic exclusion in a developing nation and chose to act. Women artisans in Puerto Rico shared their intricate hand-embroidery with her and Byler recognized an opportunity for income for a group of people who were regularly denied opportunity. She partnered with them to deliver access to American markets where the work of the artisans would be revered, thus building a highway where wealth and goods could freely move, disrupting generational cycles of poverty.

Image shows Edna Ruth Byler, founder of Ten Thousand Villages, examining embroideries in 1946.

That was 1946. Every year since, the need for that highway has remained, so Ten Thousand Villages has scaled to partner with more artisans in more developing nations, branching and expanding the trade highway. Today, this model, this movement, is known as fair trade— trade between companies or organizations in developed countries and producers in developing countries in which fair prices are paid to the producers. For 75 years we have seen a need and provided opportunities for producers to meet their own needs through fair income, in safe working conditions, all over the world—a partnership in which we all benefit.

These fair trade partnerships have been the lifeblood of our social enterprise and today we celebrate another fair trade partnership with a fellow fair trade social enterprise. Meet, Level Ground—a fair trade certified coffee distributor who works with progressive co-ops focused on coffee quality, environmental sustainability and fair income for farmers. We have partnered with Level Ground to bring you an exclusive anniversary coffee blend this winter, available now in your neighborhood store, and online at Ten Thousand Villages. 

African woman in a traditional head scarf is seated on the floor next to a large pile of green coffee beans. There are 4 other women behind her next to piles of their own. They all hold large baskets in their laps as they sort the beans.
c/o Level Ground Trading Ltd. Producers working with green coffee beans.

Why Coffee?

Shot of a white mug filled with fair trade coffee, taken from above.

Coffee is a universal language of togetherness in the U.S. We invite friends over for coffee when we want to reconnect, we buy a colleague a coffee to say thanks, we deliver family coffees when they’re going through a difficult time just to communicate, I see you. Coffee=togetherness in the fast-times culture we exist in today and togetherness is what fair trade is all about—the recognition we all benefit from a more fair and inclusive global society.

Thanks to its universal rapport, coffee has also become something of a poster child for fair trade. Even to those not yet familiar with the concept, they’ve certainly heard of fair trade coffee; seen the labels on the bags, can articulate something about environmentally conscious farming and fair wages for farmers. Let’s build on that. Brick by brick, let’s continue to examine, in all sectors, why fair trade matters.  

Lastly, and perhaps of equal importance in this season is the fact that coffee is cozy. Coffee is comfort. Coffee is idealism. In a world still grappling with the repercussions of a pandemic, we will dish those things out in spades this holiday season, because if we can deliver hope in a mug, we’re happy to try.

Three large red flowers stand in a vase behind a white mug of fair trade coffee. Next to these things are a bag of Ten Thousand Villages' 75th Anniversary coffee, a scoop of ground coffee, and a red and white embroidery.

Our Organic, Fair Trade, 75th Anniversary Blend

Our anniversary coffee is a blend of Tanzanian, Ugandan, and Ethiopian single origin, dark roast coffee. Notice the label? Inspired by the Puerto Rican embroidery crafts that sparked Edna Ruth Byler to take action, you’ll see a 75 stitched in, reminding us of the impact of 75 years of fair trade.

Flavor profile: Dark tasting notes; big, balanced, spicy.

Taste Description: toasted pecan impressions, dried fruit & dark chocolate mouthfeel; sweet vanilla & black pepper on finish. Three magical coffees from the Great Rift Valley are working together in this blend to deliver a unique cup.

The label calls us to sip with intention and share in the joy—sip with intention when you choose fair trade; share in the joy of a more equitable world.

Impact

Throughout the last 75 years, we’ve celebrated as we’ve seen fair trade develop. We’ve cheered and come alongside others who have recognized the necessity of fair trade, eventually becoming a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization, a “collection of social enterprises who exist to raise awareness on trade injustices and imbalances of power in conventional trade structures, and to advocate changes in policies to favor equitable trade” (WFTO). Look for the WFTO label on fashion suppliers, food, spices, and yes, coffee.  

Shop (and sip) with intention.  Share in the joy.  

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Erica Martin

Content Writer for Ten Thousand Villages, Erica’s heart beats for travel, sunshine, campfires and great chai tea lattes. You’ll generally find her in the garden, behind a camera, curled around a good book, or chasing her 3 children who insist upon getting faster and more cunning every year they’re alive. Words bring Erica life, and she’s hoping you’ll excavate something gratifying from hers.

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Mosaic brings you stories that help you make fair trade and global culture part of your style, home and life.