All around the world, coffee farmers are being exploited; they are not getting a fair price for their coffee which causes their farms and, more importantly, their families to suffer. Coffee companies that could afford to pay more for the products, don't because the cheaper they can get the coffee means that they can get more revenue from the sales. But by ripping off the coffee farmers, majority of whom are in developing nations, it doesn't allow them to excel and actually drives them into a deeper pit of poverty than they started out at. Many coffee farmers turn to uprooting their coffee crops and using the land to harvest drugs because they can't feed their families by selling coffee.
When you buy Fair Trade coffee you are buying coffee from a company that has submitted themselves to ensuring that their farmers get a fair price for their product. Some coffee companies do what is called "direct-trade" which means that they personally work with the farmers who handle the coffee they sell. The point is to drink responsibly. Don't support the exploitation of coffee farmers just to get your fix. Are not people more valuable than caffeine, money, or pleasure? Is it not worth it to pay a little more to ensure that people aren't suffering at your purchase?
For more information check out a documentary called "Black Gold".
The picture of the farmers in the poster was kindly made available by Andy Carlton, in association with World In Education For FairTrade, for the use of promoting Fair Trade.