Coffee is the number one consumed beverage in the world. Over 400 million cups of coffee are consumed each day in the United States alone. It is the 2nd largest globally traded commodity in the world, second only to petroleum. In the tropics, local economies and communities rely heavily on the stability and income from coffee beans. With that said, have you ever wondered what impact your morning cup of joe has on the environment or the people that depend on it for their livelihood? Does consuming only Eco friendly coffee make a difference?
Traditional coffee plantations require vast amounts of cleared land, displacing entire ecosystems of native plants and animals. Many traditional plantations also use pesticides, herbicides and insecticides in mass. These chemicals not only run into local water supplies, poisoning the water, they are harmful (some even cancer-causing) to the low-wage workers that manage the fields.
However, Eco friendly coffee plantations also known as "shade plantations" leave the natural canopy of trees over the plantation that gives animals, insects, birds and reptiles a protected natural habitat complete with native plants. Shade plantations allow the animals and nature to live in harmony with the coffee crops.
If you feel that Eco friendly coffee does make a difference, choosing "shade-grown" coffee is the best way to go. There are other types of certifications that are also important when looking for Eco friendly coffee such as; "Bird Friendly", "Rain Forest Alliance Certified", "USDA Organic" and "Fair Trade." Whichever type of Eco friendly coffee you choose, remember that you are making a conscious decision on the impact that coffee beans can have on the environment, humans and wildlife in those areas.
What does it all mean? How to break down what the label says:
1- Shade Grown: Coffee beans that have been grown on plantations with a natural tree canopy above the fields, instead of clear cutting the forest. This allows native animals, birds, insects, reptiles and plants to live in harmony with the crops.
2- USDA Organic: Pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals are never used during the coffee bean growing process. Many of these chemicals are known endocrine-disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals, they also are known to kill native animals and poison local water sources and the soil - which is another good reason not to ingest non-organic coffee.
3- Bird Friendly: Similar to the "Shade Grown" certification, it protects migratory birds that will be lost forever due to clear cutting of the rainforest for traditonal coffee plantations.
4- Fair Trade: Fair Trade means that the family farmers are treated respectfully, are paid a fair living wage for their coffee beans, allowing them access to medical care and educational services.
Do you consume Eco friendly coffee?
Do you feel that the benefits of Eco friendly coffee make a difference?
photo credits: Coffee Beans, Traditional Coffee Plantation, Shade Grown Coffee Plantation,