As we approach the anniversary of launching Together Coffee, we wanted to take a little time out to talk about the lifespan of your coffee beans. While most of us only see the end result of products we purchase, it’s important when moving to a more sustainable lifestyle that we acknowledge the whole life cycle of what we consume.
It’s easy to become disconnected from the process of how our food makes it from farm to our homes. But when we don’t pay attention, it becomes easier and easier for companies to reduce their commitment to manufacturing practices that are good for people and planet.
Together Coffee is about quality. Not just quality of taste, but the quality of the process around bringing these fair trade beans to your home! So let’s talk about a few of the things we look at when crafting truly sustainable coffee.
The Farmers and Their Soil
The coffee industry is rife with exploitation (much like fashion). In a world where being able to produce as much as possible, as fast as possible, for as cheap as possible, is the model, a lot of inhumane practices are put into place.
Some common exploitative practices within the coffee industry may include:
- Gravely underpaid workers in poverty-stricken countries
- Depletion and elimination of workable soil due to overproduction
- Excessive pesticides and harsh chemicals used to maximize optimal output
- Edging out of small, sustainable farms by corporate competitors
- Passable levels of mold and other harmful inclusions in the product
- Improper, damaging disposal of waste
So when you’re looking for sustainable beans, you have to start with the farm.
- Are the workers being paid fair wages?
- Is the farming regenerative and supportive of long-term environmental health?
- Are the plants curated in a natural environment with minimal toxic exposure?
If you want to know if your coffee is sustainable, you have to go to the source.
Fair Trade Designation
A Fair Trade designation is a simple way to ensure that some of the above bad actor behaviors aren’t happening. Fair Trade certification isn’t easy to get and the company has to be in line with not only the ethical environmental factors but also the humane treatment of workers.
While we’ve been trained to think “cheap is best” through 20th-century mindsets, those awakening to the reality of exceedingly affordable goods are discovering that low cost also means low quality at best and anti-human, anti-global wellness at worst.
One of the best ways we can vote for a better tomorrow is with dollars. One of the easiest ways to make sure your money is falling into the hands of caring, socially aware companies is to look for fair trade brands.
Roast Dates and Expirations
When it comes to coffee, growing the beans is just part one. A roaster is also involved and that person needs to live up to sustainable standards as well. This may mean that your coffee keeps for less time because its quality is based on freshness, not maintained by preservatives. And that’s a good thing!
Most organic, natural products innately disintegrate with time. Foods that last well beyond their natural lifespan have to be chemically altered to do so. Flipping your paradigm on shelf lives is another way to get closer to quality. The same way farmer’s market produce needs to be eaten faster, good coffees need to be drunk faster and ordered more frequently in smaller batches to preserve the integrity of the product.
Flavoring is a big divider between quality products and corporate manufactured products. Check the ingredients! The more listed ingredients that are hard to pronounce, the further you are getting away from real food.
If you need a science degree to read a label, you’re likely a far cry from ethically manufactured items.
Coffee can be flavored with chemicals or it can be flavored with other, ground-grown ingredients. Make sure you have a grip on what’s going into your cup of joe.
Sustainable has become fashionable, so there are a lot of tricky marketing ploys out there to get you to believe your products are more forward-thinking than they actually are. Look for the brands doing the tough work of receiving the designations that indicate real change and effort.
Thank you to everyone who has followed us from fashion to coffee and now into home decor. We are so proud of the care and conditions under which our products are brought to market — all with Fair Trade approval Come drink coffee with us!