Coffee is a complex commodity that grows best under the care of small-plot harvesters and trades in the international commodity market at fluctuating daily prices. In the last three decades, Mexican coffee growers have lived through a rollercoaster of change. The demand for coffee dramatically increased in the twentieth century while the returns to growers remained nominal. Economic changes in the 1980s led to a neoliberal restructuring of the market that made it more laissez faire and open. Within the political arena, government enforcement of rules and regulations for the coffee sector are weak or nonexistent. The market is competitive, the politics are complex, and the societies that depend on the crop struggle to survive the vagaries of a changing and unpredictable coffee trade. In this shifting commodity landscape, fair trade, and organic networks have challenged the supremacy of unregulated commodity production and marketing. In this thesis, I trace the historical and the contemporary challenges for the coffee trade. Why has increased demand not translated into increased profits for indigenous coffee growing communities? What role have specialized coffee markets, such as organic and fair trade, played in diminishing the "unfairness" of the free-market? What are coffee's legacies in Mexico, and what does its future hold? Through a historical analysis of the fair trade network, I seek to reveal its origins, development, challenges, accomplishments, and future possibilities.