The world loves coffee. We drink it in the morning to stay awake, in the afternoon to keep going, and often after dinner so we can complete our extensive to-do lists.
According to the National Coffee Association, people in the United States spend $40 billion on coffee every year. Coffee drinkers consume about three cups of coffee per day making it the most popular beverage in America.
According to marketwatch.com, in 2016, Americans drank 88.8 gallons, per capita while bottled water weighs in at only 33.5 gallons, per capita.
Almost 1 billion cups of coffee are drank every day
(and that’s only in America)!
Even though so much of our life is focused on coffee – where are we going to get it, how much does it cost, what kind will I drink today, oh no they’re out of my favorite kind?? – we don’t often stop to consider where the coffee comes from before it is poured in our cups and placed safely in our hands.
While coffee beans mainly come from Indonesia, Columbia, Brazil, Vietnam, and Ethiopia, coffee is grown in roughly 70 countries around the world.
Coffee farms are typically smaller than you might think. These small farms are susceptible to the intensely fluctuating coffee prices ($0.43 per pound in 2001 and upwards of $3.00 per pound in 2011, according to fairtradecampaigns.org).
Because the farms are not “large-and-in-charge” they do not have the power to protect themselves or bargain with their buyers.
Fair Trade practices have a “price bottom” that purchasers will not go below, meaning no matter how far down coffee prices drop, farmers and growers will be promised at a minimum a certain amount of money from their Fair Trade buyers.
In addition, $0.20 per pound of coffee sold by Fair Trade farmers is money that goes directly back to their communities promoting development, quality and productivity (fairtradecampaigns.org).
Over 50 percent of Fair Trade coffee is also certified organic, according to fairtradecertified.org. Fair Trade buyers offer an incentive to organic coffee growers by purchasing their products at a higher price point.
Purchasing coffee that is certified Fair Trade is best, but let’s not stop there. It is important to also purchase organic. According to the Equal Exchange Co-op, coffee beans are one of the most heavily chemically treated crops in the world. Not only are farmers and consumers exposed to toxic chemicals, the environment is suffering too.
Organic, natural coffee flourishes in the shade, but is difficult to harvest. Because of this, coffee crops have been genetically modified to grow best in open, sunny areas (Equal Exchange co-op_. These fields that have been plowed for sun-soaking coffee crops have contributed to 2.5 million acres of deforestation in Central America alone (fairtradecampaigns.org).
Now, don’t panic. There’s a lot of bad news here, but there’s also some good news: Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts only sell Certified Fair Trade coffee beans.
That’s right, Starbucks lovers. Starbucks states on their website that they are committed to purchasing 100 percent ethically sourced coffee.
You too, Dunkin’ lovers! In 2004, Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with Fair Trade USA and became the first national brand to sell 100 percent Fair Trade Certified coffees.
Okay, more bad news. Neither Dunkin’ Donuts nor Starbucks beans are certified organic.
As with most things, your best bet to know exactly what you’re getting and putting into your body, is to make your own coffee at home with Certified Fair Trade and Organic coffee beans. They are most expensive than conventional coffee beans, but a small price to pay for keeping our bodies, planet and economy safe while still getting the pick-me-up that we crave so much.