Over the last few decades, there has been an undeniable trend in many food and drink industries towards sustainability. As companies and consumers alike have started working towards more sustainable and ethical practices, we have begun to understand our impact on the world with greater clarity.
Things within the coffee industry look no different, and in recent years, there have been significant culture shifts for many coffee producers looking to create sustainable coffee standards. For companies, there is now a greater focus on options like organic certification, bird-friendly farming techniques, and ways to create quality coffee beans without sacrificing the environment.
Not only do these choices benefit coffee farms and the land surrounding them, but they also benefit more people up and down the supply chain. With better sustainability practices comes better working conditions and economic stability for the people who need it most, creating a healthier, more complete coffee ecosystem.
These changes are all significant and represent positive shifts in the mindset of the coffee industry, but these are actions that a coffee company can take.
So, what can be done on the individual level?
On the other side of the market, coffee consumers have started to examine their habits through the same lens. We rounded up a few of the best personal changes and choices you can consider to make your at-home coffee experience more sustainable. From where you buy your coffee to how you use your old coffee grounds, here are a couple of tips to help coffee become more sustainable for everyone.
Influencing Coffee Production
At first glance, it might seem like a lot of what makes coffee sustainable is out of your hands. Of course, you can only do so much as a single person, but your actions can create a significant amount of change. Though you might not directly see the results, one of the best ways to promote sustainability is with your wallet.
The coffee you choose to buy and the companies you buy it from are the most direct sources of change that you can impact, and one of the most considerable distinctions you can make is between fair trade and direct trade coffee.
Fair Trade vs. Direct Trade
You’ve probably seen the labels “organic” and “fair trade” on a lot of coffee bags, and while neither of those classifications are bad, there are some other classifications that can make more significant impacts.
For instance, if you’re debating between fair trade and direct trade coffee, we recommend opting for direct trade. This is because fair trade coffee producers must adhere to globally standardized rules and regulations to pay their workers, price their coffee, and reduce environmental impact.
The fair trade regulations create a decent system that has helped some farmers, but the end result still focuses more on helping larger corporations that act as the middle man instead of the actual farmers. That is why we recommend (and participate in) direct trade partnership coffee.
Direct trade partnerships are between the farmers and coffee roasters, so instead of buying coffee from a fair trade corporation, direct trade partners purchase coffee from the source. Buying directly from farms allows for the individual farmer’s needs to be taken into account, as they can agree on the best market price for their coffee, as opposed to a global standard.
Apart from using your money wisely, and supporting sound business practices, how you use your coffee can also help push for sustainability. By adhering to just a few small habits, you can get a lot more out of your coffee and help the environment while you’re at it. Many of these habits are apparent, such as using reusable cups, switching to plant-based milk, and ditching your K-Cup machine, but what about coffee composting?
Coffee Grounds Compost
Most of us will toss out our coffee grounds once we have a cup of joe in hand. Coffee grounds are entirely biodegradable, so this in itself isn’t damaging, but did you know that you can use coffee grounds in several ways after your coffee is brewed? The uses for used coffee grounds span from furniture buffer to fridge deodorizer, but none are as effective as coffee ground composting.
After you make your morning brew, don’t throw out your old grounds! Instead, you can use them to help the environment directly around you. Coffee beans contain a decent amount of nitrogen and can help create a rich, nutrient-filled compost when combined with other organic matter, grass clippings, and soil. However, before putting it in your garden or on your plants, make sure you research what plants like coffee grounds. Try to lean towards acid-loving plants for the best impact.
Composting is a good practice for anyone, not just people with gardens and yards. If you have any houseplants, adding coffee grounds compost to their soil can help them thrive better than ever before! Don’t have any plants? Composting helps to reduce odors from your garbage and can dramatically cut down the amount of waste in landfills! If you’re feeling ambitious, you could even start a composting worm bin, as worms love coffee grounds and will help turn them into rich compost.
High Brew and Sustainability
Here at High Brew, we recognize that coffee sustainability is about more than just being eco-friendly. As mentioned above, we participate in a direct trade partnership that helps us support and empower the farmers who provide our coffee. A portion of sales from every sale goes towards our partnership, helping to provide fair prices, infrastructure, and resources to our farmers. This helps to promote sustainability at every level while also creating top-quality coffee.
We know that it takes a lot of effort to create great sustainable, ethical coffee, and we are constantly working to make that a reality. We are proud to promote healthy farming practices, and by ensuring the livelihoods of our farming communities, we think that we can help make coffee more sustainable for everyone.
Our delicious, naturally caffeinated, cold-brew coffee is perfect for anyone with a sense of adventure and a love for the planet. So try out High Brew today because it’s not where you take your coffee, but where your coffee takes you.