If you are like me and love coffee, you probably noticed many “sustainability” labels on different coffee products and wondered what it all means. First, let’s start off by explaining the concept of sustainability.
The EPA describes sustainability as “Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generation.” In layman terms, sustainability simply means preserving the world and resources that we will leave to our children and grandchildren.
Why grow sustainable coffee?
Sustainable coffee fall under crops that are grown and marketed for sustainability and there are several different certifications including Oganic, Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance. Organic-certified means that coffee is produced without using artificial pesticides or herbicides. This ensures that pollution from wastewater and fertilizers is minimized and soil erosion is decreased thereby keeping forests intact.
Although it is not specific criteria, organic coffee is usually grown in the shade because farmers use leaves as organic matter fertilizer. Some coffee is specifically labeled as “shade tree” coffee.
The second certification, Fair Trade, means the coffee farmers work under humane conditions and are paid fair for their labor. This certification aims to improve the markets of small producers.
The last certification, Rainforest Alliance, means coffee is grown on farms where the environment and wildlife is preserved, while workers are provided with fair wages and have access to medical care.
All of these certifications are important because they improve the quality of coffee by limiting the harmful pesticides ingested, promote fair wages and practices for farmers, and reduce negative impact on the environment.
Buying coffee grown locally also helps to reduce the carbon footprint on the environment by reducing the transportation emissions. Choosing sustainable coffee may seem like an insignificant choice but these practices can reduce greenhouse gases and ultimately preserve our planet.
Creating the perfect cup of coffee
Choosing sustainable coffee may not only benefit coffee farmers and the environment, but it can certainly improve the quality of the coffee. For one, it ensures that the best methods are used and this is very important when growing and processing coffee beans that are high-quality and robust.
Once you have obtained sustainable coffee in whole beans, you can greatly modify the taste of coffee based on how you grind the coffee. For instance, a much finer grind will produce a more bitter taste, where a coarser grind might give you a weaker taste.
Sustainable products, including coffee, provide many benefits to the consumer, producer, and environment. So the next time you want to make a great cup of coffee and help to preserve our planet’s environment and resources, be sure to choose sustainable coffee. Not only will you be able to make a great cup of joe you will also help preserve the environment for future generations to come.
About the Author
Bio: Sarah is the author of We Dream of Coffee. Her motivation stems from her love of the drink and her mission to spread the word about the world of coffee.