Coffee is something that is sacred to me. I value heavily the flavor, robustness and quality of craft roasted beans. I read Coffee and Conservation regularly because it provides me news on the small coffee growers that are trying to grow their coffee crops in sustainable ways. Coffee plantations planted under shade trees have a direct ecological benefit to many tropical fauna and flora, including rare or endangered butterflies and birds. Large corporations that grow coffee beans on a large scale clear the land for large plantations and make the habitat unfavorable to forest fauna. This reduces soil quality very quickly. Bean flavor is related to soil quality which is one reason that Folgers, Maxwell, etc. beans lack the key characteristics of a really good coffee that you may buy at a coffee house. The other reason is that the "robusta" bean variety has been heavily engineered to be mild for the average american palate. So much so that I feel as if I am just drinking hot dirty water.
But there is a human cost to buying coffee from these large multinational corporations. It increases poverty and prevents farmers from making beyond 5-10% profit on the beans. Coffee and Conservation has a nice article up today that lays out the case with several important link embedded in the article. I highly recommend bookmarking the website and flipping through its webpages!
Can switching the coffee I drink really help?
The U.S. is one of the world's largest coffee consumers. We can make a difference. Quit supporting the poverty and environmental destruction that cheap coffee from these large multinationals perpetuates.
Good coffee for which a fair price is paid is not too expensive for most Americans. In fact, 45% of Folgers and Maxwell House purchasers have incomes greater than $50,000 a year. Even coffee that costs $15 a pound works out to well under a dollar a cup, tastes great, helps preserve biodiversity, and provides a decent living for coffee farmers.