Title: We Love Coffee!

Grade Level:  7-12

Subject/CA Standards: Economics, Environmental Studies, Social Studies

Overview:  A look into the coffee industry and trade, how it effects those involved; from the grower to the consumer.

Purpose:  Coffee is one of the largest cash crops in the world, with the US as the second largest consumer behind Europe, yet there are many devastating environmental and social impacts in the course of its production.  This lesson looks at alternatives to large-scale pesticide-dependent coffee farming and explores what many farmers and companies are offering instead.



  1. Refer to Global Exchange's website on Fair Trade Coffee for background information and resources at http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/fairtrade/coffee/.
  2. Fair Trade or organic coffee and hot chocolate (for non-coffee drinkers) plus milk, sugar,cups, etc.

Activities and Procedures:

  1. Make coffee or hot chocolate before class begins.
  2. Begin by going through the The Coffee Process.
  3. Hand out sheet on Pesticide and Coffee Facts.  Discuss in relation to the coffee process.  What responsibility do we, as consumers, have?    

Tying It Together:

  1. Have students research Fair Trade coffee distributors such as http://www.cafecampesino.com and http://www.deansbeans.com.  What do they advertise?  On what grounds do they try to convince potential consumers?  What is the price difference between Fair Trade and regular or gourmet, non-organic coffee?
  2. If interested in taking this issue further, students can lobby local coffee shops and distributors to carry Fair trade coffee.