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Fair Trade Coffee House

In a word: Fair to middling.

The specs: #0171
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews by Kristine Hansen and Rob Thomas; Althouse philosophizes about their tip jar; Nick reviews the coffee; reviews at Yelp; Fair Trade Coffee House on Urbanspoon

Latest Fair Trade Coffeehouse news and reviews

JM ate the cheese omelete bagel with a Sprecher root beer.
Kayla ate the pastrami and provolone with an orange juice.
Nichole ate the spinach, pesto & red pepper bagel with a mint tea.
The bill was under $20, or $6.67/person, plus tip.
JM and Kayla gave Fair Trade Coffee House a B; Nichole gave Fair Trade Coffee House a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Fair Trade Coffee House

Nichole thought the sammiches at Fair Trade Coffee House looked familiar - turns out they're run by the same folks as Michelangelo's. The sandwiches are made in-house, according to the barista, but People's Bakery & others contribute to the tempting bakery case. The vegan bars are made in-house as well - we would have tried them but they were sold out on this busy market Saturday.

Today we just grabbed some quick sandwiches and non-coffee drinks* and ended up not quite full - but pretty happy nonetheless.  The sandwiches were, on whole, good though a little light and hardly a meal.  But the flavor was definitely there.

Fair Trade bagels

*Which brings us to the pitch - does anyone out there want to start a comprehensive Madison coffeehouse blog? Cuz this town could use one.

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It should be noted that these people are using Fair Trade solely as a marketing device. They try to push down the price of coffee like all the others, and are not committed to the actual principles of fair trade (otherwise they'd be buying milk from local organic family farmers, not Dean). I'm not saying that they're worse than any of the other independently owned coffeeshops on state st., all of which i support, but no one should be deceived into thinking that they're any better. The name of the place really bugs me.

Someone should check out where they get the rest of their bakery, the muffins look unsettlingly familiar...maybe Sam's Club?

A phone call didn't clarify anything ("We get our bakery from a variety of sources - we're kind of busy right now, thanks for calling").

Take a look - they may be Otis Spunkmeyer.

I don't know from Sam's Club muffins...

...after further research, the muffins do strongly resemble muffins from Sam's Club. For shame.

Through a little research, I found that Fair Trade Coffee House uses 100% fair trade coffee. If every item and ingredient were local or organic, the price, unfortunately, would be phenomenally high and the business would end up being shut down, due to cost and lack of customers. I go to Fair Trade Coffee on a regular basis, and I believe it to be better than the non-fair trade coffee houses such as Ancora and Expresso Royale Caffe. Not to mention that the atmosphere is unbelievably relaxing.
I was kind of curious, however, of the resemblance of the muffins to the Sam's Club Muffins. So I went and bought a chocolate muffin from the Coffee House and bought a case of muffins at Sam's Club that it resembles, to test them. They have similarities, but they are not the same. I am at no loss anyway, because now I have a case of delicious chocolate muffins :)
All in all, Fair Trade is an honest locally owned coffee shop, and it has my support.

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