In the newspaper today is a short article about how Fair Trade Cafe is under new ownership (since the summertime).

The Fair Trade Cafe in downtown Phoenix was in danger of closing last June, but its doors remain open thanks to new ownership. Michele White and Stephanie Vasquez bought the business in the summer and converted the non-profit cafe, which was run by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral next door, into a for-profit model.

White had been selling fair-trade merchandise in the shop and has always been passionate about human rights, and she said owning the entire business would help her reach more people.

“I feel I can do so much more with the cafe than I could ever do by myself,” White, 28, said.

White’s mother teaches with Vasquez at a local middle school, and Vasquez said it’s always been her dream to start up her own cafe, and she was eager to partner with White.

“I took a trip to Costa Rica and just fell in love with how right in the middle of absolutely nowhere, they’d have a little cafe and the best coffee I ever tasted,” Vasquez, 29, said.

Fair Trade, at 1020 N. First Ave., has been growing with a new marketing strategy, which includes reaching out to neighboring residents and businesses. The biggest challenge, the owners said, has been gaining attention despite being entrenched in light-rail construction.

Fair Trade features only fair-trade coffee and products. Fair trade is a type of market with a social-justice model that supports the artisans and producers.

“We look at everyone getting paid a fair living wage, being treated well and working in good conditions, and that’s translated over to the growers of the coffee,” White said.

Fair Trade also uses coffee grown by Adventure Coffee Roasters in Tucson. All the coffee in the cafe is organic, which White said is popular with customers.

Besides coffee, the shop features food such as sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries and baked goods. The shop also carries a variety of fair-trade products, including handbags, clothing and soaps off the Karuna Village Fair Trade line, which White started about three years ago.

Arizona Coffee

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