This article examines the ongoing rapid expansion in Fair Trade coffee networks linking Northern consumers with producers in the global South. We provide a comparative analysis of the experiences of seven coffee producer co-operatives in Latin America, identifying the characteristics which facilitate successful integration into Fair Trade networks. Our analysis finds that coffee organizations, communities and producers derive important material and non-material benefits from Fair Trade. We conclude that while the financial benefits of Fair Trade appear the most important in the short run, it is the capacity building nature of Fair Trade that will prove the most important in fueling sustainable development in the long run. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.