Most people drink coffee that comes from non-sustainable or traditional coffee farms. The only one who really profits from those beans are the giant corporations that focus on quantity, not quality and increasing their bottom line to make a stock owners happy. The result is growing methods that harm the earth: Rainforests with hundreds of rare animals and exotic plants have been clear cut by these global companies to make room for their factory farms. Forests that do survive the clear cutting are slowly killed as toxic chemicals leach into the soil and water. Plus, these traditional growing methods are literally making the people growing and harvesting the beans for my favorite beverage sick. To top it all off, this coffee can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
A sustainable coffee farm is the complete opposite. A sustainable farm uses only as much from the land as it gives it. These farmers use renewable resources as much as possible, work to reduce air and water pollution, take care of the surrounding nature and make sure their employees are treated well.
But what does that really mean?
An example of using a renewable resource is using discarded coffee husks for heating, rather than cutting down trees. If that isn’t an option and trees have to be cut down, new ones would be planted to replace them.
Sustainable farms reduce water pollution by making sure that fermentation tanks that process the coffee cherries don’t drain into near by lakes and rivers. Instead the water is re-used on the farm to water the trees and naturally filtered by the soil.
To avoid using chemicals like fertilizers, a farm would use natural fertilizers and organic material under the coffee trees to replace the natural nutrients that coffee farming uses. It even leads to a larger harvest over time.
These coffee farms don’t clear cut the forests to make room for their crops. Instead the coffee trees become part of the natural environment. The farmers use methods like bio-diversification, organic farming, sustainable agricultural and shade-grown to give back to nature as much as they’re using.
Sustainable farming isn’t just environmental differences. It also includes education programs, medical care for the farmers, their families and employees, as well as fair wages and working conditions for the farm’s staff.
Sustainable coffee is a long term solution to much of the environmental and social issues that plague the coffee growing regions across the world.