Fairtrade coffee


Our coffee commitment 

All our own label No.1 coffee,
and coffee in Waitrose cafes is Fairtrade

We sell over 50 Fairtrade coffee products and estimate that our sales generate $670,000 annually in Fairtrade Premiums. This revenue goes directly back into the communities producing it, providing the coffee farmers with stable incomes, better working conditions and fairer trading terms.  

About 80% of the world’s coffee is produced by 25 million smallholder coffee farmers. It is one of the most valuable and widely agricultural products but many of the smallholder farmers fail to earn a reliable living due to fluctuating global prices, climate changes and reduced yields. 

One of the producer groups benefiting through our cafe coffee sales is ASOPEP  in Colombia. ASOPEP is an association of 300 coffee farmers working in a remote region of Huila. With their Fairtrade Premiums ASOPEP have been able to improve post harvesting processes and improve access to their co-operative.  

Read more about how buying Fairtrade coffee helps give farmers a better quality of life for their families and communities

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Coffee farmers

Meet the farmers growing Java’s first Fairtrade beans

In the forested hills above the Ijen Plateau, East Java, the farmers of the Kayumas cooperative set out for work. Mr Rijal has been up since sunrise because morning is the best time of day to nurture his prize coffee crop.

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“You must take care of your coffee trees,” he says. “When we are harvesting, it is best to work early in the day, when it is cool and there is moisture in the air. We want to pick at exactly the right time to ensure freshness.”

For Mr Rijal and Kayumas’ other farmers, coffee is both a livelihood and a labour of love. They are especially proud of their coffee crop because it was certified as Fairtrade in May 2018 - the only cooperative to achieve this in all of Java. 

The Kayumas cooperative largely focuses on growing the premium bean, arabica. Its coffee is grown following organic principles which is a testament to the farmers’ commitment to preserving their environment. 

The Indonesian island’s coffee has long been prized for its rich, deep flavour. Javanese coffee is typically rich and earthy. The Kayumas’ beans for our No.1 Java ground coffee are also sun-dried, giving the coffee bright, citrus notes, balanced by deep, chocolatey undertones. Being 100% Fairtrade, it’s also good for the environment and the communities where it is sourced.

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Polly Astbury, Waitrose & Partners coffee buyer
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"We’re the first UK supermarket selling Fairtrade-certified Java coffee which makes me really proud. For years, we’ve had an ambition to make all our No.1 own-brand coffees Fairtrade. Java was the last one to tick off our list. It’s taken a long time and a lot of hard work, but with the help of Fairtrade and the amazing farmers here at Kayumas, we’ve finally managed it.”


Polly Astbury
Waitrose coffee buyer

It’s taken nearly three years of work for the farmers of Kayumas to achieve their certification. The Fairtrade mark brings many benefits – access to educational and training programmes, improved working conditions and assistance with environmental sustainability.

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“Fairtrade is such an important initiative for the coffee industry in Indonesia. Having  a guaranteed price means farmers can focus on sustainability, environmental standards and social welfare. That’s why it’s so important that UK consumers continue helping us to support projects like this.”

Hagung Hendrawan
Fairtrade’s Indonesian coffee manager

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At present, the country has only 24 Fairtrade coffee cooperatives. Only 1.5% of the 565,000 metric tonnes of green bean coffee exported from Indonesia is sold as Fairtrade.

Words and images by Oliver Berry 

Indonesian coffee beans

About Indonesia’s coffee region

Dutch traders were the first to realise the suitability of Indonesia’s climate for coffee cultivation 300 years ago, with its combination of volcanic soil, tropical heat, altitude and humidity. By the 1800s, the island had become one of the world’s principal coffee exporters. 

Java’s finest coffee is grown on the rich slopes around the Ijen Plateau, a region at the eastern end of the island. There are around 16,000 hectares of coffee plantations in the Ijen Plateau’s provinces.


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Arabica vs Robusta

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Arabica coffee has a sweeter, softer taste, with a higher acidity and a fruity flavour profile; the plant grows at higher altitudes and is generally the variety found in single-origin coffees.

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Robusta has a harsher, more bitter taste, with a nutty flavour profile and almost twice as much caffeine as arabica. It grows at lower altitudes and is often used in blended coffees, especially espresso blends, due to its rich crema. Coffee trees can live for up to 60 years and the beans are actually seeds, found inside a berry-like fruit.