Why buy ethically sourced coffee?
If you care about where your food comes from, you should consider buying ethically sourced coffee. Maybe you already buy certified organic produce because you are concerned about the effects of pesticides. It’s pretty easy to tell how locally produced organic foods, like apples, contribute to the local community and to the planet. You can buy your produce directly from the farmer and sometimes even see their growing and harvesting methods first hand. For imported goods like coffee or chocolate, however, that kind of transparency is not usually possible. This means it is harder to be sure that your coffee beans are both sustainably grown and ethically sourced.
What is ethically sourced coffee?
When I go to buy coffee beans, I have to shop with a critical eye. I look for bags marked with the fair trade or direct trade label to ensure that the coffee supports farmers and the environment. Fair trade coffee and direct trade coffee are sourced following a strict set of rules that ensure products improve the living conditions of small farmers and are produced with sustainable practices. Fair trade coffee is certified by a non-profit organization like Fair Trade USA. This organization ensures that buyers contribute to sustainability and community development initiatives. They also make sure that growers have the tools to improve their living standards.
Moreover, sourcing coffee ethically means that roasters can have greater control over the quality and social sustainability of their beans. Needmore Coffee has four fair trade coffees (Cowles Bog, Nicaragua Jinotega, Peru, and Sycamore Land Trust) and two direct trade varieties (Honduras 18 Rabbit and El Salvador, Santa Elena). The coffee industry has a history of using underpaid and even forced labor abroad to cultivate and harvest its products. Thankfully, there is a growing awareness among consumers of the injustices built into our food system and many independent coffee roasters, including Needmore Coffee, are changing the face of the industry, practicing ethical sourcing so that their relationship with the coffee farmers is mutually beneficial and environmentally friendly.