Us Kiwis love our coffee! Around 70% of us have at least one coffee a day, so it’s no wonder the main thing most cafes want you to know is that they serve good coffee.

coffee cup with beans

But is that coffee taste as good to the growers as it does to you?

We were disturbed to recently realise that the top 10 countries from which New Zealand imports coffee are all countries where child labour is used in the coffee industry. If you’re not careful, there’s a good chance your coffee was grown by a kid whose parents kept them out of school to work on the farm. Often it’s the only way the family can stay afloat financially. After all, there’s not much money in coffee: a recent study estimated growers only get around US10c (around NZ17c) for every cup we consume. Even in a low income country, it’s just not enough to get by!

But it doesn’t have to be that way! We found a great many easily-accessible options where someone has been checking to make sure no kids are working on the farms. And while only a handful of these brands claim to give farmers a living income, they’re all ensuring farmers earn more than they’d get on the open market. That means farmers are less likely to need to put their kids to work in the first place.

Check out our full guide for detailed recommendations, but here are a few stand outs:

  • the whole Trade Aid range and the L’Affare Fair Trade range pay workers enough that they should actually earn a living income. Look for them online and in most supermarkets. When it comes to L’Affare, make sure you’re buying one that says “Fair Trade” next to the product name - not all their products are fairly traded.
  • when you’re on the go, choose a cafe that sells Fairtrade certified coffee, or go to either a McCafe or a BP Wild Bean cafe - both of those serve certified child labour free coffee.
  • looking for instant coffee? 70% of the coffee drunk in Aotearoa is instant, after all! For regular cofffee, look for Starbucks products or the Countdown own brand range; and for decaf, look for the Clipper brand in your local health food shop. The Countdown flavoured coffee sachets are also child labour free, as are the Mokate flavoured sachets sold at The Warehouse.
  • wanting nespresso-compatible capsules? The most widely-available child-labour-free option is L’OR, but there are plenty of others if those don’t suit.
  • buying for your office? There are actually more child-labour free options at office supply shops than at supermarkets. Check out our list (including speciality products like single-serve sachets), or look for the logos below.
ra and ft

And in general, if you’re not sure if a particular brand is OK or not, look at the logos on the packaging. If you find either the Fairtrade mark or the Rainforest Alliance seal, you’re good to go :-)