You might’ve seen the term “sustainable coffee” thrown around your local coffee shop or on the shelves of your supermarket, but what does that really mean? Sustainability can come in many forms, and in the coffee industry, it is becoming an important factor to consider.
As climate change continues to impact and affect coffee farms around the world, companies have come up with various ways to adapt to the challenge.
High Brew takes pride in our sustainability efforts and looks to continue making a future impact. Here’s a little bit more about what it means to make coffee sustainable and how we’re finding a way to make sure coffee sticks around long term.
What Is Sustainable Coffee?
Making coffee sustainable isn’t just about agriculture and natural resources; it’s also about the people behind it all. At every step of the coffee supply chain, from bean to brew, steps can be taken to ensure that the coffee is good for the environment without sacrificing the livelihoods of the people who make it.
As a result, sustainable coffee-producing practices can be broken down into two specific groups: environmental impact and societal impact. Both categories are vital to sustainable coffee’s success, and one can’t thrive without the other.
Keep reading to learn about problems the coffee industry faces and some ways companies (like High Brew) are fighting them.
Coffee can only be grown in particular conditions, meaning that most of the world’s coffee farms are in South and Central America’s tropical climates.
The limited regions for coffee growth can pose a significant problem for coffee farmers, as an expanding demand for coffee farms can often lead to deforestation and the destruction of sacred tropical rainforests.
As farmers work to maximize their land’s potential, they can often struggle to produce coffee at a viable rate, forcing them to either expand their farmland or use hybrid coffee crops that can damage the soil due to the higher use of pesticides.
Coffee also faces environmental challenges during processing, as the fruit of the coffee bean plant must be separated from the coffee bean through a process known as Wet-Milling. This process uses vast amounts of water, and if not correctly handled, the water from these mills can contaminate the water in surrounding areas.
Steps Towards Sustainability
Thankfully, steps have already been taken to combat these environmental impacts. To work against deforestation, farms have found more efficient growing methods, such as shade-growing.
Shade-grown coffee is the traditional technique to grow coffee, as most coffee plants thrive best in the shade. By pairing shade-giving trees, or cover crops, with coffee plants, farmers can maximize the efficiency of their existing land while helping improve the soil around their farm. This eco-friendly, resourceful change can help combat our earth’s ongoing deforestation, all while providing a healthier, tastier coffee bean.
To help prevent water contamination, High Brew works with our Direct Trade Partners to create centralized wet-mills with better and more efficient water purification. Centralizing these wet-mills decreases water usage from 10 gallons, to less than one per pound of coffee. In addition, water is filtered after the production process and returned to local rivers cleaner than when it started.
Unfortunately, sustainable farming is just half of the battle...
Making sustainable coffee relies heavily on the production from coffee farms, and when there is an increased demand for productivity, the growers can get exploited. As the initial step in the supply chain, growers must sell their products in order to profit. When they cannot meet the demands on the other end, they often have to clear more land or rely on harsh chemicals to help them meet the ever-growing demand.
This is mostly why sustainable coffee must be about both the environment and the people that produce the coffee.
Steps Towards Sustainability
At High Brew, we recognize how important our farmers are to our product’s success and sustainability, which has driven our efforts to support local farms and growers in Columbia. Our partnership helps to support over 65,000 acres of a coffee farm in Columbia by improving the infrastructure and quality of life for our growers.
For every purchase of High Brew coffee, a portion of the proceeds go directly to our partnership, providing funding for better infrastructure, fair and equitable wage practices, loan programs, and education grants.
Through this practice, we have raised over $2 million in education grants, funding 1,069 people as they go to college and university. We have also constructed 20 warehouses for our growers to sell their crops at the best market prices and give out over $15 million in loans to the families and farms that we couldn’t function without.
By investing in the communities around our coffee and providing many support levels to our growers and producers, we hope to continue to create sustainable coffee in every sense of the phrase.
Great Coffee and Good Vibes
High Brew is a coffee company for the people! We want to make a difference in the world. We are a team that embraces adventure, independence, and passion for what we do, and we wanted to reflect that in our company.
High Brew Coffee also proudly sources our Direct Trade beans from Colombia, enabling us to purchase coffee from the highest quality sources, while supporting production at centrally located wet mills in the area. This helps us to create sustainable farming and business practices for everyone involved in our coffee journey.
We don’t just want to create delicious, naturally caffeinated coffee; we want to create sustainable coffee for a better tomorrow.