Over the years a fresh cup of coffee has become a reliable and comforting companion to my morning routine; whether it be a frosty cold brew in the summer time or a simple french press in the colder months, my love for coffee is less about the caffeine and more about the rich flavors, aromas, and rituals that come along with every cup.
Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world, so I am in good company in my love for this bold beverage. But, as I join the movement to make more healthy, eco-friendly, socially responsible consumer choices – particularly with items I use daily – I’ve learned that conventional coffee farming is fraught with problems.
As one of the most chemically treated agricultural products on the planet, conventional coffee is grown in a veritable noxious stew of pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers. And while studies, like this 2012 study in Japan, have shown that these chemicals never make it to your cup because most chemical residues are burnt off during the roasting process or rendered inert, this is still a major problem.
While consumer health may not be at risk, consider the impacts of conventional coffee farming on the farmers, their families, the surrounding communities, and the environment. Some problems include: chemicals contaminating drinking water supplies, health problems related to exposure to chemicals, and deforestation to clear land for sun grown coffee in regions typically rich in biodiversity.
Social justice issues abound in this industry as well, particularly with respect to poor working conditions, child labor, insufficient and crowded temporary housing during harvest time, and lack of contracts and low wages.
According to Oxfam, “Because coffee farmers typically depend upon coffee as their primary source of cash income, volatile and declining coffee prices can have a direct impact on access to education,housing, food, medical services, and other basic necessities. Hired workers serving coffee plantations and estates often face substandard wages and working conditions under uncertain and declining market conditions.”
Vancouver based coffee company Ethical Bean, a certified B-Corporation committed to sustainability and social responsibility, are purveyors of certified organic, fair trade coffee.
From co-founder and CEO Lloyd Bernhardt, “Ethical Bean Coffee was founded on the basis of making a lasting positive impact in the livelihoods of coffee farmers and their communities. Committing to source organic coffee means we’re helping to keep harmful pesticides and herbicides out of the food chain, protecting the farmer’s health and the health of the environment for generations to come.Sustainability is a continuous journey at Ethical Bean and we believe that third party verification is the gold standard. Our fair trade and organic certifications ensure we’re sourcing a sustainable and ethical product while our B Corp certification also verifies our operational, employee and local community impact.”
As a Certified Organic Food Processor , Ethical Bean must adhere to stringent standards to maintain their certification, which is reviewed during their annual physical inspection by the certification body QAI Organic. In addition to the environmental concerns organic growing addresses, Ethical Bean also makes efforts to be sustainable in other areas of their business recently launching compostable single serving coffee pods , among other initiatives like their LEED certified roasting facility and being carbon neutral since 2007.
Certified Fair Trade through Fairtrade Canada, a branch of the international umbrella organization Fairtrade International , all of the farmers Ethical Bean partners with are paid fair wages based on the costs of production rather than the conventional model of wages based off volatile market prices. In addition to fair wages, farms are also paid a Fairtrade premium the cooperative can reinvest back into their community any way they’d like.
The small family farms they work with are organized into democratically run cooperatives that must adhere to strict standards of labor, quality, and environmental responsibility. Consumers can read about their various coffee partners in each growing region on the Ethical Bean travel blog.
But staunchly committed to transparency, Ethical Bean goes one step further with the addition of QR codes found on every bag of beans. To my knowledge at the time of writing, they’re the only coffee company to utilize this technology to trace individual bags of coffee.
Using their app, or any other QR code reader, consumers can simply scan the code to learn information about their specific bag including: photos, maps, when it was roasted, who roasted it, which coop the beans came from, and cupping notes. All of this information is also accessible on their website via the lot number on the bag.
I tried both the Lush, a medium dark roast, as cold brew and the Super Dark roast french pressed. And since I have two bags, I’m only 10 bags away from receiving a free one through their bag return program.
From the QR code on my Lush bag I learned that my morning cup of coffee was roasted on July 16 of this year and the beans came from three coops in Nicaragua, Colombia, and Honduras . There was even a video the explaining the blend in further detail including cupping notes and flavor profiles.
I quite liked both of the beans, but I think the Lush would be my go to, everyday coffee and the Super Dark would be something I enjoyed when I want something richer.
Find Ethical Bean near you or shop online here.
This is a sponsored post by Ethical Bean. I only partner with businesses in line with my values and words and opinions are always my own.
Read more about Ethical Bean coffee at some other Ethical Writers Co member blogs: