You can’t go anywhere these days without a huge range of coffee to choose from, be that direct from your local roaster, cafes, supermarkets, restaurants, fast food outlets and even bakeries. It really is everywhere you look. The variety available is somewhat overwhelming. So we have to ask ourselves, what effect does coffee consumption have on the planet?
Coffee is the 2nd most widely traded commodity after oil. So there really is a colossal amount of work going into it. From growing the plant to harvesting the seed, processing it, roasting it and then grinding and brewing it - that’s hours and hours of work gone into just one cup! So how can we as ethical consumers make sure that what we’re buying isn’t leaving a huge black mark on our eco friendly point’s card?
In the UK, big brands have complex supply chains that make finding out where their products come from and what condition the workers and environment are in near-impossible to find out, it should come as no surprise that big chains such as Costa and Starbucks have the monopoly on the worlds coffee supply, So it’s most likely that they have a big say in its productions cost, both monetary and with regards to the welfare of the farmers. Smaller more independent retailers have a closer relationship with their product and therefore more in tune with how it’s farmed and where it’s from. With Fair-trade organisations leading the parade as far as consumer to grower visibility goes.
At Crosby Coffee we source from several different importers across the UK, as well as being in talks with individual farms and co-operatives to import coffee direct from the farm. This was the only way for us to ensure the price we pay is being paid to the farmers and their families. Recently we established a partnership with St Joseph’s Jospice, who several years ago opened hospices in Guatemala and Honduras. Profits we make on our coffees from these regions are being donated to these hospices to improve the lives and welfare of its patients and their families. We will continue to help and donate to other areas were possible to ensure a sustainable and healthy supply chain.
Coffee’s impact doesn’t stop with commercial production either, the way we make coffee at home can have an effect also. We all recycle nowadays yeah? Separate the plastic, glass, paper and metal and put it in the corresponding tub out front, it’s become the norm as the way in which we consume has evolved. Also the way we consume coffee at home has evolved, with the rise of the home “barista style” coffee machines, the market has been flooded in recent years with kitchen gadgets designed to satisfy the growing demand for high quality at home. Unfortunately these do come with a downside; the “pods” used in these machines are notoriously difficult to recycle as they are made up of multiple components made up of different materials, so the reality is that millions and millions of these pods are ending up in landfills. One German city has recently banned the use of these machines in professional working environments due to the sheer waste. Even if the pods were recycled after someone uses them, they'd still be more wasteful than brewing coffee more traditionally.
So what can we do? The simplest answer is to educate ourselves on what were buying and where it’s from. Do you ever stop and wonder; where did this come from, what did I just order? The impacts of such questions spark intrigue, trigger answers and force change.
Oh and shop local of course.
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