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

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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 1: Transparency and Traceability Across the Coffee Supply Chain

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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.

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Warning: California’s Coffee “Cancer” Labels May Be Hazardous to Public Health

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Last week, a Los Angeles judge ruled that coffee roasters and retailers must serve up a cancer warning with coffee sold in California under Prop. 65 regulations, based on the naturally-occurring presence of acrylamide from the roasting process.

The decision goes against what the science shows us – including the conclusions of the World Health Organization. Study after study, conducted independently and published in peer-reviewed journals, has shown the potential health benefits of drinking coffee — from liver health to living longer.

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Being Clear on Transparency

By Angela Magnusson, Commercial Relations Manager, Fairtrade America

“At its core, transparency is the free and open access to knowledge, which implies that information flows all ways.”

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A Fairtrade-certified coffee producer based in Barillas, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Credit: Sean Hawkey, Fairtrade International

In today’s digital age, instantaneous and open sharing of information no longer dazzles us. Transparency, from the perspective of the US consumer, has increasingly become an expectation and not just a ‘nice-to-have.’

According to “Transparency 2015, Establishing Trust with Consumers,” a recent study from the Hartman Group, while general familiarity with the term “sustainability” continues to grow and shape purchases in the U.S., transparency is emerging as a new buying ideal. This trend represents more than the simple economic exchange people have with companies, but a fundamental shift in the relationship we have with the world and others around us.

More companies are sharing the stories of their products and becoming more adept at communicating just what it is this new generation of customers want to know. But to what end does transparency serve farmers and their families? How can transparency in the other direction – with farmers and cooperatives – provide the groundwork for long-term trust and sustainability in the coffee industry?

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