How Does Coffee Affect the Environment?
Coffee is a beverage enjoyed by millions of Americans. We consume it at an ever-increasing rate, but is it sustainable? The crop is highly valued all over the world, and is in higher demand than ever before. One way we can ensure that our coffee habit will not harm the planet is by checking and double-checking where our coffee originates, and the methods by which it is grown.
Coffee that is produced under organic and natural circumstances will be a bit more expensive, but will be fairer to the farmer growing it, the supplier importing it, and the customer buying it, which makes everyone more responsible to the planet in the end. But the biggest potential damage to the environment comes from the production of the coffee beans themselves.
By producing coffee beans organically, through sustainable practices like shade-growing, we can make coffee a more environmentally friendly beverage. Let’s take a look at how this works.
Shade Grown Coffee Helps the Birds
Enjoying your morning brew, knowing it comes from shade grown coffee should make your morning brighter, because that means your coffee habit isn’t contributing to deforestation of the Amazon or other necessary and vital rainforests. The benefits of shade grown coffee outweigh the perceived negative side effects, that is, the production of “lesser” coffee beans.
Shade grown coffee is essentially coffee grown underneath the shade of a rainforest canopy. This incorporates principles of natural ecology and promotes undergrowth relationships among the types of flora. This also promotes the health and vitality of the bird population that calls the rainforest their home.
A strong connection is present between the bird population, coffee crops, and the farming community, and can be further explored with the preference of shade-grown coffee crops. Shade-grown coffee also promotes the health of bees that pollinate and help arabica and robusta coffee crops reproduce. On shaded plantations, there is also significantly less runoff water, which is better for water conservation, especially in water-stricken countries. This is also better for the coffee planet overall.
Make Your Coffee Organic
“Organic” coffee is a label used mostly for the production of coffee crops that are begotten through fair-trade and fair-use laws, under the provenance of the Rainforest Alliance Certification body and other organizations that protect the purity of coffee crops. Organic coffee is grown by farmers who are committed to using renewable resources, and conserves more soil and water than traditional coffee growing methods.
Although the chemicals used in non-organic coffee growing methods burn off during the roasting process, they are still harmful to the environment around it. Farmers should use organic matter when fertilizing crops and resist the impulse to use various forms of pesticides. This will help the environment greatly.
Shade-growing coffee helps the crop grow organically without the interference of pesticides and other harmful agents. The terms “shade-grown” and “organic” are excellent and necessary labels to look for when purchasing your next batch of coffee beans.
[Image Via: Wikimedia Commons]