In modern times, coffee consumers are making ethical decisions while buying coffee. Most consumers are now concerned about the origin of their coffee, and the growing and manufacturing processes involved. They like to know whether their coffee is ethical. This guide will discuss why ethical coffee matters. Let’s get started.
Meaning of Ethical Coffee
When purchasing coffee, you’ll notice that the packaging bags they come with have labels such as fair trade label, Rainforest Alliance Certified label, Direct trade label, U.S.D.A Organic label, and a Bird-friendly Habitat label. These labels are important when it comes to ethical coffee and they have different meanings that we’ll discuss.
Ethical coffee is coffee that has been produced in a way that supports the environment in which it is grown and the farmers who are responsible for the beverage. Ethical coffee is high-quality coffee that has been grown and manufactured following strict rules that are intended to support hard-working farmers and the environment.
Ethical coffee came about for two main reasons. These are:
- Coffee farmers were being exploited by being paid unfair prices that left them poor.
- For the survival of these low-paid farmers, they undertook cost-cutting unethical practices such as cheap pesticides that led to negative environmental impact.
Over the years, there has been an emergence of programs that concentrate on sourcing ethical coffee. As a result, coffee roasters and farmers are working together, which leads to high-quality coffee that attracts premium prices.
When coffee is ethically sourced, you’ll find that everyone in the coffee world wins. For example, farmers receive good prices, coffee roasters receive high-quality coffee beans, and customers receive high-quality coffee. Ethical coffee breaks the poverty cycles that most farmers used to face.
Why Ethical Coffee Matters
Here are some reasons why ethical coffee matters.
1. Ethical Coffee Contributes to Eco-friendly Environment
First, ethical coffee is grown under shade, meaning that the coffee grows under large trees. This is how coffee was traditionally grown, but due to the need of coffee farmers to grow more, you’ll find some farmers’ mono-cropping coffee with little shade or no shade. While farmers growing coffee in the sun produce more, shade-grown coffee is the best for the environment.
Additionally, coffee that’s grown in the shade is more resistant to drought, hurricanes, and extreme weather conditions that farmers may experience. Equally important, shaded coffee acts as a habitat for birds such as migratory and epidemic birds that help keep the pests away.
Supporting small-scale farmers who grow ethical coffee contributes to supporting the environment too. Furthermore, these farmers can grow plants such as bananas, plantains, and pigeon pea with their coffee, thus providing food for their families.
2. Ethical Coffee Supports Hard-Working Farming Communities
Sourcing Ethical coffee from coffee farmers will help improve their standards of living. Buying ethical coffee means the farmers are paid well for their coffee beans and labor. Through this, you’ll find that farmers are encouraged to continue growing high-quality coffee beans. Farmers can also move their crops to shaded regions, which is an expensive process that they wouldn’t achieve with low wages.
Buying ethical coffee will also keep away farmers from using unethical coffee-growing processes such as using harmful insecticides, and pesticides that may affect the environment as well as the quality of the coffee.
3. Ethical Coffee is High-Quality
Ethical coffee is high-quality and tastes better and fresher. This type of coffee is mainly Arabica. Arabica coffee beans are grown under higher altitudes, thus producing unique and tasty flavors. This explains why Arabica coffee beans are pricier on the market.
4. Your Dollar is a Vote
As a coffee consumer, buying ethical coffee is a way of voting for an eco-friendly environment and improved living standards for coffee farmers. In modern times, coffee consumers are not only interested in their coffee, but also want to know how it is grown, harvested, roasted, and any other process involved.
How to Buy Ethical Coffee?
The best way for you to buy ethical coffee is to check the quality as well as the transparency of the manufacturer. Most coffee manufacturers or roasters provide information on the sources of their coffee. They will also mention the ethical values and cultivation processes behind their coffee. Equally important, they’ll guide you in choosing the best coffee beans that suit your tastes and preferences.
Here are other tips you can use when buying ethical coffee.
- High-grade Arabica coffee is always ethically grown to attract the premium prices
- Ethically grown coffee is mostly picked by hands during the harvesting time. This can be a tedious process but it ensures that only the ripe coffee cherries are picked. This guarantees you quality coffee beans and a perfect cup of coffee
- Check the farming practices such as the provisions offered to workers
- As mentioned earlier, ethical coffee is grown under shade so that the cherries can mature slowly which leads to more complex flavors and the high prices the coffee
Common Coffee Labels
Some common coffee labels to look out for when buying your coffee include:
1. Fair Trade Label
When you see a Fairtrade label on the packaging of your coffee beans, it means that the beans are certified by Fairtrade International. The organization focuses on improving social, economic, and environmental coffee growth standards by purchasing coffee directly from small-scale farmers. Additionally, this organization sets standard prices for farmers that includes the production costs involved. This way, farmers are well paid and their standards of living improve.
2. Bird-friendly Habitat Label
Coffee brands with this label indicate that the coffee is ethically sourced under shades so the birds have a habitat. These birds help reduce the pests that may otherwise affect the coffee crops.
3. S.D.A Organic Label
U.S.D.A is another important coffee label. Brands with this label document the coffee growing process carefully to ensure that the coffee beans and the soil they are grown in are free from synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Additionally, the farms where the coffee beans are sourced are annually inspected to ensure that they maintain their standards.
4. Rainforest Alliance Certified Label
The Rainforest Alliance Certified label is quite similar to the Bird-friendly habitat label. This coffee label ensures that the coffee is sourced from farms that maintain biodiversity and sustainability goals.