Why We Choose Sustainable Coffee

Roast 2 Order is all about sustainability! Sustainable coffee is more than just a buzzword. Sustainable coffee affects the entire life-cycle of coffee and its impact on the environment, local communities, and the coffee industry.

You may have seen the words Organic, Fair trade, Rainforest Alliance, and Shade-grown Arabica on our website and in some of our other articles. We are very proud to be able to include these words and would like to explain why they are so important to us, our customers, and even the planet.

Sustainable coffee includes organically certified, fair trade, and Rainforest Alliance.  

Organic coffee is grown without the use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, or other synthetic agents. It promotes biodiversity and helps to reduce the pressure on natural resources. 

Fair trade coffee is purchased at a fair price from small-scale coffee farmers and producers, helping to ensure that their livelihoods are secure. Sustainable Coffee helps farmers provide for their livelihood and families.

Rainforest Alliance coffee helps protect the natural environment and wildlife of the region. Rainforest Alliance, states “At the Rainforest Alliance, we recognize that we all have a role to play in creating a better future for people and nature. To make sectors truly sustainable, we believe that both the value and the risks must be shared across the supply chain. Our shared responsibility approach aims to distribute benefits and costs of certification more evenly between farmers and companies.”  Please checkout their website article “Shared Responsibility: Balancing Sustainability Values and Costs for Farmers and Companies”.

It’s not just the farmers but everyone in the supply chain that needs to show commitment. The Rainforest Alliance implemented two requirements so that the costs and benefits are more evenly distributed between farmers and buyers. You can read more details on the Rainforest Alliance certification program here: “Certification Program: The Sustainability Differential and Sustainability Investments.” 

Shade-grown Arabica coffee is grown in the shade of trees, rather than in full sun, reducing the environmental impact of the coffee production process.

Sustainable coffee process

Sustainable Coffee process

Making sustainable choices is not simple and requires effort from everyone involved – from consumers to coffee farmers. Consumers have to alter their buying habits and cut down on waste, while farmers may have to bear the cost of production with no promise of an increase in profit. Everyone in the production chain must work together to lower emissions.

Farmers can increase their income by using more eco-friendly practices, which will attract more customers who prioritize sustainable coffee. This could result in a higher price for their crop, allowing them to invest in their farm and better their quality of life.

By choosing sustainable coffee, we are helping to ensure that coffee production is healthy for the environment, provides fair wages for farmers, and preserves the unique flavor of the coffee we all enjoy.

Farmers Challenges and Efforts

Many factors like humans, climate change, and pollution are threatening the Earth’s biodiversity. The amount of coffee a plant produces is greatly impacted by its environment, genetics, and the current climate. Several reports indicate that climate change is a real threat. See article from CNN Business from January, 2022 “Climate change is coming for our coffee”.  

More pressure is on farmers to grow sustainable coffee and the farmers’ profitability is at great risk because the costs to do so are much higher. Coffee farmers must make informed decisions regarding their crops, such as picking the species and variety that best suits their needs. It is essential for farmers to assess the various types of coffee and their productivity so that they can make an informed choice.

Having the right number of trees per hectare (which is equal to  2.471 acres),  is essential for increasing productivity. This number can depend on the type of crop, the local environment (e.g. climate and soil water retention), and the production system. The way the crops are harvested can also affect how the trees are managed. For example, mechanical harvesters cannot strip cherries from taller coffee plants, so manual harvesting allows for the trees to be taller and thus yield more.

While planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and shipping their coffee, farmers emit CO2 and use energy. The coffee plants, being perennial, absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and release oxygen as they photosynthesize. The location of the coffee tree is essential to ensure it gets enough sunlight for photosynthesis and proper growth. 

Diseases and pests that can damage coffee trees.The fertility of the soil has a direct effect on the health of the coffee tree. Nutrients from the soil are necessary for different stages of the tree’s growth, like root development, leaf growth, flowering, bean development, and ripening. Farmers can use deep soil preparation and irrigation to make the plants more resistant to drought or hot temperatures. They can also add soluble fertilizers to the water for irrigation, known as ‘fertigation’. Pruning and stumping can help the tree recover after harvest and regular crop renewal is necessary when the productivity decreases. 

Coffee farmers face a steady stream of pests and illnesses that can cause major damage to their crops, leading to financial losses. Notable insects that attack the plants include the coffee berry borer, coffee leaf miner, and coffee mealybugs, while common illnesses include coffee leaf rust, coffee wilt disease, and pink disease. Providing plants with proper nutrition can help them to better tolerate and recover from pest and disease problems.

Some farmers use shade to grow their coffee, like shade-grown Arabica. By growing coffee among shade trees, a system referred to as agroforestry, both the coffee quality and the environment are benefitted.

Another method used by farmers is the circular economy. In this, the farmer uses the coffee husk to create biofuel, and treats and reuses wastewater.

As you can see, there is a great deal of effort and balance to produce the beans that get roasted for your coffee. Not only do you get to enjoy delicious fresh roasted coffee but you can feel good that your investment helps support us, a small family owned business as well as a coffee farmer and their family.


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