From Peru to Ethiopia, Fair Trade coffee cooperatives around the world are committed to offering high-quality beans to their customers. Quality affects both the taste of the cup as well as the price that farmers receive for their harvest, and in turn, the livelihood of their communities. Today, many coffee cooperatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America are choosing to invest in quality. Cooperatives are using their Fair Trade community development premiums to educate their members about quality improvement, soil analysis and organic agriculture.
To highlight the benefits of Fair Trade in coffee growing regions around the world, Fair Trade USA invited cooperatives to share their stories of environmental sustainability at the Specialty Coffee Association of America Annual Conference  in April. As an incentive for participating, Fair Trade USA submitted top samples from four Fair Trade cooperatives to the Coffee Quality Institute  (CQI) for CQI "Q Grades" . Exposure to the CQI process helps cooperative members understand the value of a high cupping score, and ultimately, the role that higher quality coffee plays in securing a sustainable future through better prices.
In 2007, Fair Trade USA initiated a project with the seven cooperatives that make up Le Coopérative pour la Promotion des Activités-Café (COOPAC)  of Rwanda. The project focused on quality trainings, and as a result COOPAC earned a reputation for producing high-quality coffee beans. They were later honored with the 2010 Rwanda Cup of Excellence , which allowed them to make new market relationships that generated an export increase from 39,683 pounds in 2007 to an incredible 751,781 pounds in 2010.
Another leader in Fair Trade coffee quality, Oromia Coffee Farmer's Cooperative Union (OROMIA) of Ethiopia, recently earned a cupping score of 84 out of a possible 100. As one of the largest coffee cooperatives in the world, Oromia exports six varieties of coffee directly to the specialty market. Through the use of sustainable growing and harvesting practices, Oromia produces quality beans at no cost to the local ecosystem and provides income to over 180,00 coffee growing families.
Vanguard for Women's Empowerment
Central de Servicios Cafetaleros del Nor Oriente (CECANOR)  of Peru, which has also been recognized for their commitment to improving quality, places a strong emphasis on empowering women to be leaders in the community. In 2004, CECANOR founded Café Femenino , the first women-grown brand of single-origin coffee. Café Femenino  launched in order to increase women’s representation within all aspects of their coffee production. Today, the Café Femenino coffee project represents more than 1,500 women in Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru.
Raising the Bar for Environmental Standards
Strong environmental standards  play an integral role in protecting the environment and ensuring quality coffee production. Two cooperatives, CoopeTarrazu  of Costa Rica and PRONOVA  of Brazil, have shown their commitment to environmental sustainability and increasing quality production through the launch of programs to educate farmers on soil quality and sustainable harvesting practices. These programs have resulted in both a higher quality bean and a lower impact on the local ecosystem.
Click HERE  To learn more about how coffee cooperatives are improving their businesses through Fair Trade.