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Sustainability in Coffee

Matthew Berk Matthew Berk • March 22, 2022

Coffee is Big Business, and so our best advice to folks who want to participate in making coffee a more sustainable industry is simple: think Small, think Specific, and think Local. Here are ways we can all pitch in, without having to sacrifice better mornings.

Economic Sustainability

  • Choose local coffee roasters, to bolster local economies and small businesses
  • Favor roasters who conduct “direct trade” with farmers
  • Opt for microlot, specialty coffees over inexpensive commodity beans

Social Sustainability

  • Remember that economic sustainability = social sustainability for farmers
  • Seek out roasters who feature “coffees for a cause” - building schools, providing living wages, etc.

Environmental Sustainability

  • Organic certification doesn’t always mean sustainable
  • Favor coffees sourced from specific, named, multi-generation farms
  • Look for small run, hand-roasted microlots

Product Sustainability

  • Avoid flashy, slick packaging, and instead look for kraft and other recyclable materials
  • Buy only what you need (hint: try Bean Box 2-ounce sampler products!)
  • Beware certification labels, as they generally mean big farms and commodity beans
  • At all costs, avoid coffee pods

Many of our favorite coffees also participate in the virtuous cycles of sustainable farming practices and better wages for coffee growers,
making every sip even more enjoyable; check out our Curator's picks for Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and Organic Coffees. You can also read more about direct trade coffee.

We want to help you make better coffee at home. Our recommendations are our own, and never sponsored. If you see something you love and buy it through our links, we may receive an affiliate commission (thanks for that!).