Coffee, the one beverage to make a day or start one, is something we can't live without. What's impressive is all the different ways we can consume it, hot or cold, in desserts or savory food, in large glasses and tiny cups. It's a beverage enjoyed all around the world.
Since it's so popular, millions of pounds of beans are harvested, roasted, and ground every year. This makes one wonder, where does it all come from? Why from the coffee plantations, of course. What might pop in your head is tons of greenery and farmers working hard. But it's much more than that.
Coffee plantations have been growing steadily in the past decade, and the question arises, are they ethical? What are some negative aspects of coffee plantations?
Earlier coffee used to be cultivated in tropical areas and naturally grew under a shaded canopy of trees. This creates a "working landscape" and helps farmers grow coffee and make a conversational effort. The shade from canopies also provides a habitat for indigenous animals and provides topsoil erosion.
However, the newer methods of cultivation, i.e., sun-grown cultivation, have a different impact. This means trees are cleared to grow coffee in direct sunlight for a higher yield. But this also eliminates the diversity of flora and fauna, affecting the region's biodiversity.
When land is cleared to produce so much coffee, that leads to deforestation. Central America has seen 2.5 million acres of cleared land in the past years. Forest cover is vital for a lot of reasons, for example, climate change, water quality, and wildlife.
Waterways near the plantations are contaminated and pose serious threats to the environment. This is due to the discharge from the coffee processing plants near the plantation. The discharge of organic pollutants in rivers and waterways also disturbs aquatic life.
Chemicals and fertilizers: Traditional coffee methods didn't need that many pesticides, but newer plantations have a high susceptibility to pets.
Sun-grown coffee often needs a lot of fertilizers as well, this both affects humans employed on the farm and wildlife around.
A lot of waste is generated from any type of plantation. The whole process of coffee harvesting and roasting, which includes separating beans from the cherry, generates a lot of waste in the form of pulp, residual matter, and parchment.
In Central America, it was reported that for every 500,00 tons of coffee produced, 1.1 million of pulp polluted the water every day. Thankfully, there are ways to make compost out of the residue.
Sun gown coffee leads to high erosion of the topsoil. On the other hand, Shade-grown coffee did wonders for the soil quality.
In conclusion, the only alternative perfect for the environment is shade green coffee. It's ideal for flora, fauna, water quality, soil erosion, and waste. Even pesticides are not required in this method as the natural wildlife takes care of it. Efforts are being taken to switch to this method, and we as consumers can opt for shade-grown coffee consciously.