Is Sustainable Espresso The New In?

24 October 2021

Blog post

I wouldn’t say I was addicted to it.  It’s kinda a habit like, chewing a straw or biting your nails, only my day simply cannot function without my beautifully prepared iced oat milk latte with no sugar. Maybe I am a little bit addicted but, this is an addiction that doesn’t hurt anyone, or so I thought…

Coffee. 

What do we know about coffee? 

Besides that it starts most of our days, it’s what you and your talking stage go out and drink when you have that awkward first meeting. It’s what comfortably sits in your hand when you tell your professor that “traffic was terrible” when in reality the line at Starbucks was too long, but that iced cold brew was way too worth it to not get. 

Either way it is one of the most fashionable beverages and gets more popular socially as our generation progresses. In the age of iced latte pics, it becomes the topic of our insta stories. 

However, did you know that our consumption of coffee not only has an effect on us? It actually impacts many people around the world and if we are not responsible with our caffeine consumption choices, that little ‘fix’ could be impacting the environment and people involved in the creating process negatively.

At this point you may be confused, I know I was when I was standing outside Red Rabbit (local cafe) in level 3 searching up their website to call in an order. Instead I was sent to their ‘single origin’ page. Curious, I clicked on it only to be greeted with the deliciously insightful information that allowed me to recognise where my coffee was being made and by who (and I am not referring to the angelic barista), discovering the farming aspects that allow us to get that delicious bean juice.

 

Facing the facts

According to www.sustainablebabysteps.com

“Coffee farming is one of the biggest causes of deforestation, the clearing out of forests for farming or other purposes.”

In more detail, “trees are cut down, coffee is planted and within a few years the soil is depleted of nutrients from unsustainable practices and the farm is forced to move to a new location, further devastating the habitat of wildlife, plants and foods for humans and animals.” Meaning,  our harmless little fix is actually impacting communities and species both environmentally and economically and in instances, farmers are being exploited and taken advantage of by larger corporations.

All for the liquid consumption of caffeine that betters our way of life only temporarily. For others in the world, it impacts them negatively forever

Us coffee drinkers don’t purposely go out of our way to drink unethically sourced coffee, but I believe that in order to work in harmony and in support of the communities affected and to show homage as consumers, it’s definitely worth acknowledging heroes in our very own Aotearoa that strive to provide ethical and delicious choices for espresso. 

Researching for this article, I was lucky enough to speak to cafes both in and out of Auckland to record their say on the issue and the part they play as a business. I also had a lot of fun dragging my mum around to local cafes that made sustainable curation of coffee their main priority, whilst also offering sustainably appropriate enhancements to their cups and packaging and cheekily also offering tumblrs on sight. 

 

LEARNING FROM THE GODS 

The angels at Delissimo in Eden Terrace, focus their business on serving only the most sustainable blend of heaven and educating their customers through their website’s ‘sustainable’ page which reminds us of their progress to becoming a zero waste business. This approach is shown to us through their packaging ethos along with the cute reusable cups they have available (on-site and online) to reduce product waste as a whole. 

Stating that they make it a point to; “Purchase biodegradable packages, cups” and prioritize consistent reports surrounding their impact as “BioPak is sending us updates on how many trees we saved”

I was lucky enough to speak with their staff and ask them about their journey surrounding partnering with ‘Atomic coffee’ – A New Zealand based coffee roasting service that purchases from “fair trade cooperatives, the majority of the partnership with trade aid NZ.” 

‘Fair Trade Australia and New Zealand’ is an organization that works to ensure “farmers or craftspeople are paid a fair price for their product, one that represents their true worth.” Organisations like Fair Trade strive to eradicate instances of exploitation. Atomic’s affiliation with fair trade works to fund ‘social initiatives’ that include ‘schooling, infrastructure, hospitals, improving access to water, electricity supply and processing equipment.’ This is done through money earned through ‘fair trade co-ops’ which is contributed by us when we purchase through them.

As consumers, buying from organisations like Fair Trade means we can protect workers from being exploited and provide steady income for those who are prone to economic deception due to their vulnerability. In terms of coffee and sustainable practices, Atomic ensures that businesses “must meet defined labour, environmental and production standards to attain FT certification, so that to the best of our knowledge, we’re supporting sustainable practices at origin.’ Meaning that, physical labour that goes into coffee farming  is safe and that workers are being treated fairly. Fair trade also takes into account environmental factors, through bettering crop management and developing less problematic water use practices.

The staff at Delissimo Deli go on to share that it is important to recognise where our coffee comes from as it recognises the “people that produce it.” Through supporting coffee roasters similar to Atomic it’s a way of showing that ‘being paid fairly’ is a key aspect of ensuring that farmers and labourers of coffee beans are being treated fairly. This ethos becomes a priority over simply just supplying coffee to people like you and me.

THANK YOU to Delissimo Deli for all their help! Please check out @Delissimodeli on instagram and be sure to check out their store, you won’t regret it! 

I was also really privileged to speak to Bethany from People’s Coffee NZ based in Wellington and ask about their journey towards sustainability. Bethany talked me how they as a cafe do their bit to implement sustainable coffee practices.

She told me that “Sustainability is ingrained in our founding ethics, exclusively roasting fair trade coffee since we were founded in 2004. ‘Sustainability’ is an evolving set of needs and our responsibility as a sustainably focused business is to anticipate and respond to the needs of people and the planet in a changing world. In July 2021 we published our first Sustainability Report (which is in the link of their bio), a public facing document giving insight into the social, environmental and economic impact of our business and lifted the lid on the reality of the coffee industry.” 

It’s also important to recognise that “Peoples is also Aotearoa’s first B Corporation certified coffee roastery – meaning that we, along with many other ethically focused businesses, are accountable at a global level to sustainable practices.”

Certified B Corporations are the ‘businesses that meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purposes.’ Certification to be considered a B Corp business requires the business to sustain the three pillars of B Corp certification. Those pillars being ‘unique, material and credible.’ From their website, “Positive impact is supported by transparency and accountability requirements. B Corp Certification doesn’t just prove where your company excels now—it commits you to consider stakeholder impact for the long term by building it into your company’s legal structure.” This is an amazing qualification for a business to have and very honourable. Alongside People’s coffee NZ, Ben and Jerry’s, Little Yellow Bird (clothing) and Method recycling are all verified B Corporations!

There were many insightful aspects of my interview with People’s coffee, Bethany.  However, one thing that stood out to me was an answer relating to us as consumers. 

 Why is it important for people to be drinking more sustainably sourced coffee?

As consumers we have so much power and impact in how we choose to spend our dollar, buying fair trade and organic coffee is not only a reassurance that the companies you buy from are active and accountable to making a positive impact for people and the planet – it’s one of the easiest ways to do a little bit of good in the world.’

This stuck with me as we as consumers, really do have the power and choice to use our dollar effectively and in a way that betters someone else’s future. It’s so important that we remain mindful of our economic choices and really consider the impact that our $$ makes.

A big THANK YOU to Bethany and Peoples coffee for their help with this journey and the work they do to create change! Please check out their page and show it some love @Peoplescoffeenz

As both a Greenstyle writer and coffee addict, I felt as though it was my duty to inform you all about our coffee bean trail. I hope that from this article you are hopefully able to think about your next coffee trip and where you will buy from and really think about how our spending choices can really do better  for someone else.

Just to help it brew, I’ve linked a list of more sustainable choices as a whole and similar to me I hope you can find your new favourite coffee fix<3 

 (https://www.theurbanlist.com/nz/a-list/best-coffee-auckland )

This is Isabella Suruthi signing off. 

Talk soon, kiss kiss x