There’s no shortage of information on how to green–up your diet, but one common indulgence many of us overlook in regard to sustainability is coffee drinking. Whether you drink one cup a month, one cup a day, or you’re hooked up to an IV drip of the irresistible caffeine bean, there are several ways you can determine what brand of coffee is the most environmentally and ethically responsible for you.
Buy Fair Trade Coffee
Fair trade coffee means the beans are grown by a farmer or company who receives fair compensation for their work, and the coffee is produced under humane circumstances and conditions. Look for a stamp that says the brand is Rainforest Alliance Certified, but even if a brand doesn’t have this costly certification, don’t hesitate to ask the coffee producers about their growing and sourcing conditions. Typically they are more than happy to provide these details as a way to reassure customers they are not drinking the product of child labor or other inhumane practices.
Fair trade coffee can be found at grocery stores such as Costco and Target, as well as restaurants such as McDonald’s, Einstein Bagels and Dunkin Donuts. If you’re skeptical, specify that you want fair trade and most places should be happy enough to brew it for you.
Put a Price on Quality
Good coffee isn’t cheap. Cheap coffee isn’t good. It’s understandable that a 5 dollar can of coffee at the grocery store seems quite appealing, especially in this economy, but the truth of the matter is that farmers who grow grocery store brand coffee get around 25 cents a pound for it. An impoverished farmer is less likely to avoid environmental concerns at the cost of saving money, convert their land to less eco-friendly or valuable crops, or abandon their land altogether. In countries where coffee is the main crop, this can cause a widespread government crisis leading to poverty, famine and suffering around the world.
Suddenly cheap corporate coffee sounds a lot less appealing, doesn’t it? Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars exploring your fair trade options, you just might discover a whole new blend of beans and flavors you never knew existed.
Try a Coffee Press
Coffee presses have been a popular household item since 1929, and aside from preserving the flavor and oils of coffee, thus creating a rich, flavorful cup, they also save water and electricity. The more fine your coffee is ground, the higher quality cup of coffee you’ll receive. Taking a few minutes to french press each morning will give you a whole new perspective on true coffee flavors, and a jolt of caffeine that gives Red Bull a run for its money.
Buy a Sustainable/Reusable Coffee Cup
Those of us who grind away the day working in an office usually rely on free company coffee to make it out alive. If you head to the break room every few hours for a new cup, leave a nice coffee mug at your desk to use rather than relying on nasty paper or styrofoam cups. If you’re a business owner who stocks the break room with coffee cups, switch to recycled brands or buy each of your employees their very own mug for a holiday gift. Who doesn’t love a present from their boss?
With more than 60 countries harvesting coffee crops, coffee drinkers have the ability to severely impact the global economy and the environment. With a few conscious decisions made before each purchase, it’s easy to enjoy your favorite beverage and make a positive impact on companies all around the world.