By Nicole Bayne
“People should know fair trade is about more than just coffee and tea,” says Lisa Ostroff , the owner of Trade Roots in Arlington. Beyond the products, the concept of fair trade fosters a system that pays reasonable prices for certain goods in developing countries.
Started as a shop to sell eco-friendly, recycled and eclectic jewelry and art handmade from small villages around the world, Trade Roots recently expanded the space to include a coffee shop and cafe, with the roasting done by Equal Exchange.
“I just love their French Roast, but that could come from any country,” says Ostroff. “It’s very dark and I just love a dark coffee.”
In addition to the French Roast, Trade Roots carries coffee from Columbia, Kenya, Tanzania and Guatemala. All are roasted and bought from Equal Exchange, whose coffee is organic and shade grown, meaning no chemicals are used and natural wildlife habitats are not harmed. The coffee is considered higher-end, but the extra expense is a result of Equal Exchange roasters actually being able to pay their farmers a fair wage through coffee cooperatives. Ostroff plans to visit one when she travels to Guatemala later this year.
“It’s wonderful to meet with the artisans in person and in their own environment,” says Ostroff. Her prior travels include Ecuador and Turkey and inspired her to open Trade Roots. “In Ecuador, they welcomed me with open arms. They are really happy to meet with who is selling their products.”
The new cafe also sells black and herbal teas from Indian and other countries and baked goods from LeoNora Gourmet and Vera’s Bakeries plus stationary and art. To reinforce the good-for-the-world vibe, Ostroff created the Cup Club to reduce the use of paper products. Anyone who buys a fair trade cup receives their first cup of coffee or tea free of charge and their cup is hung on the wall to be used on their next visit. / Trade Roots, 5852 Washington Blvd., Arlington