Paying it forward - free coffee for fair trade

By Joselyn Khor

Coffee lovers across New Zealand, take heed. This Friday, you might be one of the lucky ones getting free coffee for a cause.

Making a difference can be as easy as extending your love of coffee to the fair-trade community. Photo / Thinkstock
Making a difference can be as easy as extending your love of coffee to the fair-trade community. Photo / Thinkstock

Coffee addiction can be used to feed your soul this Friday as cafes across New Zealand take part in the latest Pay Fair-trade Forward Campaign.

The day aims to raise awareness over fair-trade's global impact on the livelihood of farmers, via a social experiment, says project manager Emma Wylie.

"It's basically a social experiment to educate people about fair-trade and ethical consumerism. We need to think a bit more carefully about the things we're buying and how you can have a global impact with what you purchase," says project manager Emma Wylie.

Volunteers of the P3 Foundation running the initiative will sweep into 39 cafes - up from 12 last year - around New Zealand the morning of May 18.

Using their own money, each volunteer will buy a fair-trade coffee for the first person that comes in after them.

"I think of the opportunity to make some sort of difference, even if it just affects one other person," says volunteer Robyn Bradley.

Kiwis' altruistic tendencies will be tested to see how long the chain goes for. Last year the chain went for over 200 people in one cafe says Wylie.

Getting the "buzz" will not only come from the caffeine hit but by the campaign's drive to "pay it forward".

"The barista will say if you opt for fair-trade, the coffee has already been bought for you as a gift, take this gift and pay it forward again. In the process of doing that the barista will also provide information about fair-trade to the person coming into the café," says Shruthi Vijayakumar, P3 Foundation's CEO.

Here, the undercurrent of hear no evil; see no evil will be blown out of the water as each café provides information on fair-trade; allowing customers to pay heed to the idea of "conscious consumption."

"Trade injustice is a big issue with developing country farmers often being ripped off," says Angus Coull, Marketing and Communications Officer of Fairtrade Australia New Zealand.

At its core, fair-trade supports and empowers farmers in developing countries to trade their way out of poverty he says.

Mt Albert's Cosset Cafe will be participating in this year's campaign. Co-owner Kellie Gray says she has noticed a change in the way people approach the food they consume.

"I think people are becoming more aware in wanting to know where their food is coming from, how people are treated and who are producing their food. It perhaps produces a happier coffee drinker," she says.

The growing support for ethical consumption has seen increasing numbers of cafes adopting the fair-trade principle.

"This is such an easy way to make a difference; it just means that you walk a little bit further to a fair-trade cafe rather than going to a different one," says Wylie.

The effort in seeing the "farmers behind the labels" means people carry the possibility of change in their pockets.

She hopes the next time you grab that cup of joe, you may spare a thought to farmer Joe, whose fair-trade coffee has just hit you with a wake up call.

Further information:

* The P3 Foundation is a youth-based organisation rallying students and young professionals to help eradicate extreme poverty in the Asia Pacific.

* They are partnering up with Fairtrade Australia New Zealand and OXFAM on the Pay Fair-trade Forward campaign, in line with the Fairtrade Fortnight.

* The Pay Fair-Trade Forward campaign runs on May 18 at selected cafes.

* See more at the P3 Foundation website. - You can find the list of cafes below.

Cafes on board:

* Auckland:
Strata (Auckland Uni)
Federal and Woolfe (Auckland CBD)
Johnny Wrays (Auckland CBD)
Hum Salon (Grafton)
Revel (Karangahape Rd)
Domain Ayr (Parnell)
Kokako Roastery (Grey Lynn)
Nadu (Newmarket)
Bloom Cafe (Mt Eden Gardens, Epsom)
The Florentine Tearoom (Epsom)
Cosset Cafe (Mt Albert)
Savour and Devour (Grey Lynn)
Esquires Botany Downs Library
Hinemoa St Organic cafe (Birkenhead)
Momo Food (One Tree Hill)
The Library café and Function centre (Onehunga)
Urban Soul (Manukau City)
Café Mimosa (Takapuna)

* Wellington:
Duke Carvells
Scopa
Lamason Brew Bar
Cuba St Bistro
Haya Cafe and Deli (Aro Valley)

* Christchurch:
Engineering Cafe (University of Canterbury)
Chilton's (UC)
The Shilling Club (UC)
ReBoot (UC)
1894 (UC)
Cafe 101 (UC)
Alibi Cafe (UC)
Collective Cafe (UC)
Addington Coffee Co-op
The Serious Sandwhich

* Dunedin:
The Good Earth
Governors
TradeAid Dunedin

Pumpkin Heads Art Studio Cafe (Matamata)

Zest café (Gisbourne)

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