Just like you and me, there's a lot of people in the world who consume coffee almost daily and can't function without the beverage. To illustrate, 152 million bags of coffee were consumed in 2015, and it has been increasing by 2% every year. The world consumes coffee hot and cold, morning or evening, for the flavor or the caffeine rush, so many reasons to sip on our beloved drink. And the popularity is only growing.
But growth here could also mean something harmful to the environment. Often, many lands are cleared of forests, biodiversity is lost, and the soil is stripped away of its nutrients due to coffee production.
One sustainable practice of coffee production, which is "shade-grown" coffee, has lost its popularity from 43% to 24% in the past two decades.
So the coffee we're buying and drinking, is it ethical? Did it involve bad practices, or were local framers paid their dues? Are the communities supported due to its sale?
Ethical coffee is often certified by Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Organic, UTZ, Bird-Friendly, and shadow grown. These are some NGOs placed to analyze and deduce if coffee is ethical. Let's look at some certified ethical coffee brands:
1. Equal Exchange
Pioneer of the cooperative model for coffee production, Equal Exchange, started in 1986. The company is fair trade certified, and everyone who works for it is also an owner.
This company reinvests 1/3 of its profits back into the coffee-producing communities. Cafedirect has also invested in projects to train farmers in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, promote direct trade in Sao Tome and reforest lands in Peru.
3. Doma Coffee roasting company
Along with using advanced scientific metrics to make sure that its environmental impact is as minimal as possible, Doma coffee roasting company also has eco-friendly coffee roasters and uses only recycled paper and toxin-free cleaning products.
4. Kickapoo coffee roasters
This company has an 80-panel solar array to power their roasteries, engaging in eco-friendly practices.
5. Birds and Beans coffee
The bird-friendly certification from Smithsonian Migratory Bird Century is one of the hardest to receive, and this company has it. This is because Birds and Beans produces coffee without the use of any pesticides.
6. Grounds for Change
Being one of the first "Carbon-Free Certified Product", Grounds for Change, changed the game. This is due to the fact that the company offsets 100% of its carbon emissions.
7. Blue Bottle coffee
Selling its coffee fresh in just two days and sourcing directly from the farmers, Blue Bottle Coffee produces and sells the freshest coffee ever. Direct trade with the farmers allows negotiation and a better relationship between them and sellers.
8. Higher Ground Roasters
100% organic and fair trade certified, Higher Ground Roasters also has wind-powered farms to lessen its daily carbon usage. It also donates to non-profits and communities.
9.BLK + Bold
5% of their profits go towards supporting youth-related initiatives e.g., teen homelessness and workforce development opportunities. Sourced straight from Honduras and Ethiopia, their coffee is fair trade certified and delicious.
10. Made by DWC
A social enterprise dedicated towards empowering women and supporting the homeless with employment, Made by DWC sources its coffee from Uganda and Papua New Guinea.
11. Stumptown roasters
Focused on making fantastic coffee, Stumptown employs direct trade from farmers to focus on relationships and transparency.
12. Larry's coffee
By only using biofuel and water, Larry's coffee has a homegrown personality, and actively engages in renewable energy practices, eco-friendly packaging for the best coffee ever.