Pt. I: Sustainability Standards For Coffee – With Hidden Agendas

Farmer with hat looking the coffee plantation field

Changing from conventional to more sustainable practices

By Morten Scholer, former UN advisor and author of the recent book Coffee and Wine: Two Worlds Compared 

The following post is first in a two-part series 


Almost half of all coffee is produced under one of the recognized sustainability standards. That’s 70 million bags, or four million metric tons.

However, only around a third of sustainably recognized coffee is eventually traded and labelled as sustainable – a discrepancy that is being addressed by all parties involved in attempts to reduce the gap.

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Part 2: What Does Direct Trade Coffee Mean?

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The following post is the second in a three-part series that looks at how the coffee industry can become  more circular and direct across the supply chain. 

Part 1: Transparency and Traceability Across the Coffee Supply Chain


By Dr. Terry Tudor and Dr. Nicholas Head, SusConnect Ltd

The global coffee industry is growing. However, it is important that there are measures taken to ensure that this growth is circular and that small farmers and producers benefit along the way.

A direct trade model, which takes account of circular business models, along with the use of blockchain technology, offers the opportunity to realize these goals.

“Direct trade” is a term used by coffee roasters who buy straight from the growers, cutting out both the traditional middleman buyers and sellers, and also the organisations that control certifications. Continue reading

Part 1: Transparency and Traceability Across the Coffee Supply Chain

cup-coffee-and-sunny-trees-background-511097429_5085x3676.jpeg

The following post is the first in a three-part series that looks at how the coffee industry can become  more circular and direct across the supply chain. 


By Dr. Terry Tudor and Dr. Nicholas Head, SusConnect Ltd

The global coffee industry is growing. However, it is important that there are measures taken to ensure that this growth is circular and that small farmers and producers benefit along the way.

Continue reading

How One Coffee Company Is Empowering Positive Change at Origin

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The following post is an edited excerpt of contend provided by Volcafe. Volcafe is an NCA member company. (Learn more about contributing guest blog posts to National Coffee.) 

Visit the NCA Coffee Gives Back Charity Showcase to learn more about how NCA members are working to support coffee communities at origin. 


Child labor is a big problem in some of the poorer areas of Uganda, which includes coffee producing communities. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution.

Any resolution demands a dedicated, sustained effort. It must get to the root cause of the problem and improve the economic viability of households so that parents can afford to let their children attend school.

Some coffee companies are choosing step up and take action to empower positive change at origin.

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5 Ways to Reduce Water Use in Your Food Processing Plant

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Optimizing your water consumption isn’t only better for the planet – it can help you cut utility costs as well. Photo: Unsplash

This post was originally published on Food For Thought

By , VP Process Engineering, Stellar

Food and beverage manufacturing facilities are notorious for how much water they consume. While water is central to your plant’s operations [Ed. note: Especially for coffee!], there may be ways you can operate more efficiently and be smarter about how your plant uses water.

Optimizing your water consumption is not only better for the planet, but it may save you in utility costs as well. Let’s look at five basic ways to reduce water consumption in a facility.

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Why the Latest Prop 65 Ruling is Bad for Coffee Farmers

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Coffee is both delicious and healthy.”

California’s Misguided Labeling Decision Impacts Coffee Growers & Drinkers

This post was originally published on the Global Farmer Network

By Luiz Roberto Saldanha Rodrigues

When a Los Angeles judge earlier this month finalized a ruling that coffee sold in California must carry cancer warning labels, many California residents may not have paid much attention to yet another labeling requirement.   

Ever since voters passed Proposition 65 more than 30 years ago, after all, Californians have watched the steady proliferation of vague statements about chemicals, cancer, and birth defects. They appear almost everywhere, from the windows of hardware stores to signs at Disneyland. They’re so abundant that Amazon even sells them as stickers in rolls of 500.  

Many people have begun to ignore these labels because they’re so common and because the information they convey is almost useless.  

So why am I  concerned if they now also show up on coffee?

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Fairtrade Data Points: Monitoring & Impact Preview

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By Kyle Freund, Fairtrade America
Follow: @krfreund

Coffee continues to be the world’s most-recognized Fairtrade product, representing an estimated 4 percent of the global market. By encouraging direct relationships, sharing of information, and stable prices, Fairtrade can provide both roasters and farmers with greater stability and a quality product.

Fairtrade America, the US-member of Fairtrade International, is preparing to release its annual monitoring and impact report, a compendium of facts, stats and data covering the full supply chain spectrum from origin to store shelves.

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Coffee Energizing Biofuels Research

January 23, 2018 - NREL scientist Phil Pienkos' research at NREL

Photo illustration by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

By Phil Pienkos, NREL

When it comes to sustainability in the coffee supply chain, industry members have been finding creative ways to conserve on every level, from the farm to the coffee shop. But what happens to the grounds after the coffee’s brewed?

Many coffee shops already have composting programs, but what if there were a way, not only to divert used grounds from the landfill, but to use those grounds to produce energy? Research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is exploring this question — and is starting to see some exciting developments with help from the coffee industry.

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Data Snapshot: Building Resilient Coffee Farms

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A New Industry Guide for Renovation & Rehabilitation

Coffee-growing regions around the world are feeling the impact of aging trees and diseases (such as coffee leaf rust, pictured above), on the quality and supply of coffee. Supporting responsible coffee farm renovation and rehabilitation is crucial to the future of coffee, and the longevity of our industry.

That’s why the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, in partnership with USAID’s Bureau for Food Security and  Dalberg Advisors, has released  a new Guidebook for Roasters, Traders, and Supply Chain Partners

The Guidebook is a comprehensive resource for companies, governments, investors, and service providers interested in undertaking Renovation & Rehabilitation (R&R) efforts; it:

  • Defines the need and makes the case for renovation and rehabilitation
  • Provides practical & useful tips on how to structure R&R programs 
  • Suggests ways that different stakeholders can engage in R&R
  • Presents case studies and links to experts and service providers

R&R investments are critical for ensuring the continued supply of coffee and meeting future demand. While governments and actors in coffee value chains have invested USD 1.2 billion in R&R so far, this has only met around 5% of the smallholder farmers in need

According to the Guidebook, if the industry did reach these farmers in need of R&R, benefits would include more coffee, higher incomes for farmers, and reduction in future deforestation.

Here’s a look at the numbers: Continue reading