Bittersweet Notes Guest Blogs a Review of Daniel Jaffee’s Brewing Justice

Chocolatier and chocolate advocate Jeffrey G. Stern invited me to guest post on his professional chocolate blog. An excerpt from the post, a review of Daniel Jaffee’s 2007 book, Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival, is below with a link to the full content. The book is of great value to those interested in the impacts of alternative trade models on farmers’ lives. Enjoy!


There are striking similarities between the worlds of coffee and cacao — think ecology, production, health, history, and culture. More recently, coffee and chocolate have been brought together as two of the most commonly available fair trade certified products. However, the ethical or cause based market is more developed in the coffee world. This is likely due to the worldwide popularity of coffee consumption and the relative transparency of the coffee making process (consumers often deal directly with the beans themselves). Because of the plethora of alternative trade models to be found in the coffee world, I have, in my research on the ethics of chocolate, frequently turned to the work of coffee experts for guidance and inspiration.

Ethical sourcing of goods cultivated only outside the United States is a challenge fraught with unequal power relations and market shares. For those who support the development of more equitable trading practices, a turn to fairly traded products is often desirable. The question remains, though, as to how much of a difference (if any) fair trade certification makes in the lives of the individual farmers cultivating our beloved beans.

Daniel Jaffee set out to answer this very question in his excellent book, Brewing Justice: Fair Trade Coffee, Sustainability, and Survival. The book offers a supportive yet critical account of the global fair trade system and its local effects on the lives of coffee growers in Oaxaca, Mexico.

To read the full post, visit Jeffrey G. Stern’s blog here.


Leave a Reply

  • About

    Bittersweet Notes is an open source research project on chocolate, culture, and the politics of food. I invite you to join me as I explore the story of chocolate and the life stories of those involved with chocolate at its many stages of production and consumption.

  • Stay connected