Fair Trade Coffee

The following is a 2007 article written by Sister Maureen Jerkowski, OSF, Former Director for Centro Mujeres de la Esperanza, as published by Catholic Relief Services. 

Centro Mujeres de la Esperanza supports Coffee with a Conscience

Last October a group of us visited Maya Vinic, a coffee co-op in Chiapas, Mexico. Written outside on the wall are the words “Oj cuxlejal yu ‘un licajvele” “Coffee gives us life.”

Some have asked me as Director, why a women’s center would be interested in Fair Trade. The answer is simple. It is about women and children. We began our involvement with Fair Trade and CRS (Catholic Relief Services) in 2006 by selling it in El Paso. Our goals at Centro Mujeres de la Esperanza (Center for Women of Hope) include transforming structures that oppress women, so when we support something that is Fair Tradecertified, we know that women have an equal voice in community decision-making and often assume leadership roles in cooperatives. Fair Trade also allows children to leave fields and factories to attend school.

Ten percent of the profits from Fair Trade must be earmarked for community projects, resulting in construction of health clinics and schools.

Selling Fair Trade coffee also involves educating people about what is behind the movement. We as consumers can use our power to make an impact on the lives of poor people around the world. 

In educational presentations around the Diocese of El Paso and with immersion groups that come from different parts of the country, we make direct connections to the Gospel and to Catholic social teaching. This movement is about putting our faith into action. In our presentations we break down coffee consumption and the economic impact of Catholic coffee drinkers within in the Diocese of El Paso. We highlight the benefits to poor farmers if people convert to Fair Trade coffee. We also make direct connections to immigration issues.

Workers in Fair Trade communities can support their families and thus find little incentive to leave home and suffer the isolation and dangers in unlawful immigration. Fair trade addresses the cause of immigration and helps to lessen human tragedy.

We are proud to say that to date Centro Mujeres has sold over $58,000 of Fair Trade Coffee throughout the El Paso Diocese as well as in schools, parishes, legal clinics, federal law offices, restaurants, cancer treatment centers, business offices and our own diocesan offices. If you would like additional information on supporting this movement please contact Fr. Juan Molina at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the CRS Southwest regional office or visit www.crsfairtrade.org for more information on fair trade.

Sister Maureen now works as a Social Worker with Good Shepherd Belmont Family Services in New York.

So, yes, you will pay a little more for Fair Trade Coffee and Tea than you pay for standard name brand products, but your money will benefit far more people through a Fair Trade purchase.

As you sip on a warm cup of Fair Trade coffee or tea, you can rest assured you are doing your part to make the world a better place.

To place your Fair Trade order, call Centro Mujeres de la Esperanza at (915) 545-1890.