The legal drug of choice for many of us is liquid caffeine. Some folks get theirs in tea or pop (soda, or whatever you call it in your neck of the woods!) but many of us drink coffee. How many cups a day do you average?
Me, I prefer mine mixed with hot chocolate to make a cheater homemade mocha. I only allow myself one mug a day and take it to work in a thermal mug to sip all morning. Jim drinks the rest of the pot, taking it to work in a thermos. Sometimes he’s still looking for more when that’s all gone. I suspect he has more company in his habit than I do in mine.
What kind of coffee do you drink? I’m not asking so much for the brand name as for the ethical qualities of it. The majority of coffee is grown in vast plantations clearcut from jungles. It’s heavily sprayed and the workers don’t have adequate protection against the chemicals used. They’re also paid a very minimal wage.
There are several tag phrases to look for when purchasing ‘ethical’ coffee.
Coffee grown under a shade canopy produces less ‘berries’ than that grown in the open–about 1/3 as much yield. How is that a good thing? Well, the shade benefits songbirds. Approximately 120 varieties live in these canopies and they reduce the need for fertilization and herbicides according to this article from Coffee Research. Cutting down less trees benefits the planet as a whole, helping to keep the Earth habitable for future generations. And for you? Shade-grown coffee tastes better.
Non-organic coffee also has a higher yield than organically grown. Yes, pesticides and herbicides work to promote yield, but do you really want them in your body? I’m guessing not. But not only is your health at stake, so is the health of the workers who grow your coffee. An organic plantation has way fewer health hazards than a non-organic one.
3. Fair Trade
You expect to make a fair wage for the job you do. In North America, we not only expect this but in many cases, we demand it. The people who work on coffee plantations may not have any job options at all. Their voice typically isn’t heard because they are at the mercy of those of us who demand their product. If a coffee is labeled ‘fair trade’, you know the workers growing your joe are making enough money to live on in their local economy.
Local coffee roasteries have surfaced all over the western world. Here in BC, we have several options for ethical coffee that also provides local jobs. I usually buy Kicking Horse coffee, which can be shipped all over North America. We usually drink Grizzly Claw! Here’s a short video on the Kicking Horse company as presented by CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).
Do you have local options that meet the three main ethical considerations for coffee? Are you supporting them?