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What constitutes ethical coffee?

What constitutes ethical coffee?


Out There Coffee Co

Coffee and Ethics

What constitutes ethical coffee?

Changing coffee landscape

Our world is shifting, the old paradigms no longer hold water. With increasing population pressures and changing environmental factors, the way our coffee is being produced will change as well. It is imperative that our consumption behaviors change to meet the new demands to create a more sustainable chain. At Out There Coffee Co our focus is on this very intersection. How do we enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning knowing the coffee producers are equipped to meet these new demands?

Where most coffee comes from

Nearly a third of all coffee comes from Brazil and Vietnam and yet climatic change data indicates that current coffee-producing regions in these countries are already affecting production. Even without climate change, these countries are moving coffee production into regions and clearcutting to maximize short term land use. This decreases bio-diversity and long-term prospects for local communities. I have seen first hand the issues that clear-cutting and annual burn-offs create for producing communities in Laos and Thailand(1).

You may already be buying coffee from other regions such as Colombia or Guatemala. These regions are facing unique challenges coupled with climate change. The micro-lot we currently have on offer from Francisco at Finca El Alto was established by a farmer returning to land he was displaced from during armed conflict. I have been working with Guatemala through research and a partnership with Texas A&M graduates in the Yepocapa region. This community has suffered under government oppression, low coffee prices, and predatory commercial practices (2).

When you know where coffee comes from you can connect to something bigger than yourself. Our work looks to contribute back to these communities, encourage and train on sustainable practices, and simply engage and get to know the people. We focus on shade growing, organic, and other economic factors that help ensure long-term success for these communities.


So what can you do? Buying coffee from people that care about these factors and make an effort to connect the consumer to the producer is a start. These producers are very real and the choices you make with your purchase have an actual impact. Communities that rely on seasonal cash crops are particularly vulnerable to climate change and price fluctuations.

It brings me great joy to work with these producers, to be on the phone with them, hear their gratitude and excitement when we want to work with them. It has the potential to improve their lives and they get to do it with honor and the dignity of ownership.


Works Cited:

  1. Bunn, C., Läderach, P., Ovalle Rivera, O. et al. A bitter cup: climate change profile of global production of Arabica and Robusta coffee. Climatic Change 129, 89–101 (2015).
  2. Baker, Peter. (PDF) Global Coffee Production and Land Use Change. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from (PDF) Global Coffee Production and Land Use Change
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