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Sustainable Coffee

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Sustainable Coffee

Consumer trends

Overall coffee consumption in the US:

  • %83
  • A %5 increase from last year
  • %60 of coffee drinkers choose taste/quality over convenience
  • 18-25 y.o.'s this number rises to %66 or 2/3

4.5% of coffee consumed worldwide came from Rainforest Initiative farms last year. Such initiatives began as alternatives to exploitative traditional business. But higher production exposes the tension between being a viable alternative and becoming part of the mainstream.

Big Movers

The Rainforest Initiative has one of the largest positive ecological impacts.

  • 22% of total farming area are held as High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF's)
  • 118,000 farms
  • Twice the size of Yellowstone
  • Were returned to natural state through reserves set up on Rainforest In. farms
  • Totaling 2.5 million hectares
  • 40% publically owned
  • 10% private
  • 18% community/indigenous

The Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center "Bird Friendly" label has some of the most stringent guidelines:

  • Only 10.5 million pounds of coffee sold in 2012
  • Requires coffee to be grown in shade trees that promote migratory bird health
  • 10 types of shade trees required
  • Birds control pests instead of pesticides

But is protecting the environment enough?

(Greenwashing is the practice of appearing to be more ethical and environmentally friendly without actually being so. Such practices have spawned the term "fairtrade lite.")

  • Fair Trade Certified Coffee is the largest economic force
  • Sold at every New England McDonalds
  • Located in low to medium development status countries
  • But farmers only receive $2.84 /Lb
  • Most coffee sold at Starbucks is Fair Trade
  • GNI per capita from <$875--$3,465
  • When that same lb is sold for $9-$10 in the U.S. or Europe

Innovative banking solutions

  • 2.6 billion people live on <$2 a day
  • Agribusiness support is one of the best ways to end poverty
  • The global natural goods market is booming
  • Many of which are small producers
  • $10,000--$1,000,000= size of loans needed by small coffee farms
  • But with no hard collateral this is hard to raise
  • Small farms are forced to sell beans early for horrible rates


  • Opens up internet sales to local farmers
  • Year one =328,000 lbs shipped
  • Lb's sold for $9-$12 were split 50-50 with farmers

Root Capital

  • Has lent $235 million to 305 rural businesses in 35 countries
  • This supports 400,000 households
  • Well over a million people
  • >%99 repayment rate

The bottom line: We don't have to choose between people and quality roasts.

Sustainable Coffee