Sustainable coffee is about more than green growing practices. It also means promoting economic justice and economic sustainability for coffee growers and those who pick our coffee. In the midst of the season of giving, consider giving to a charity that makes life better for the farmers who make your day better every day.
One of the things we've always loved about the speciality coffee industry is that it is an industry full of good hearts. That's not to denigrate those who work in other industries, but we've seen the love up close and personal among those who deal with coffee farmers as part of their daily business. They tend to become passionate evangelists for economic sustainability for coffee farmers and coffee-growing communities. They invest in projects and partnerships that promote better lives for the people who grow coffee, their families and their communities. Many companies in the specialty coffee industry -- not to mention the SCAA, the Roasters Guild, the Barista Guild and many other coffee organizations -- have helped establish programs that provide microloans, dig wells, build schoolhouses and help farmers and families work toward economic independence. When you're shopping around for a truly meaningful gift for the coffee lover in your life, consider making a donation to a coffee-related charity or buying from one of the fine companies that go the extra mile to help the communities where they source their coffee. We've assembled a short list of charities and good works that directly affect coffee growers and their communities.
Coffee Related Charities
Wtih more than 400 business members (including Nuova Simonelli), Coffee Kids is one of the largest, oldest and best-known charity devoted to making life better for coffee farmers. Founded and run by people in the specialty coffee industry, Coffee Kids funds multiple projects to improve education, health care and economic independnence in coffee-growing communities in Latin America.
Grounds for Health
Grounds for Health provides education and training to local providers to help detect and prevent cervical cancer. The organizztion currently runs programs in Tanzania, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru, and is exploring possible future sites.
Founded in 2004, the Cafe Fememino Foundation is focused on helping women and families in coffee growing communities. The foundation has no paid staff and operates with as little operating expense as possible. All projects originate in the needs and requests of the community. Over its nearly 10 years in operation, it has funded such widely diverse programs as community gardens and creating a chronicle of Andean folklore, with projects in more than 10 countries.
Roya Recovery Project
La roya, known to us as coffee leaf rust disease, has reached epic proportions in Central America in the past year. Specialty coffee is especially sensitive to roya because Arabica coffee, unlike Robusta, is not resistant to the disease. Many smallholder coffee farmers have been nearly wiped out by the current outbreak of coffee rust. Combatting roya can be expensive in ths short term, and may involve using products and methods that will lose a farm's hard-won organic certification. The Roya Recovery Project distributes "toolkits" to affected farmers that help them understand and weigh the various methods of preventing, mitigating and recovering from coffee rust infestation.
An excellent cup of coffee has two ingredients: stellar coffee and clean, fresh water. Imagine having to make a 3-hour round trip to fetch the water for your cup of coffee. In many coffee-growing regions, that's the reality. Charity: water brings clean water and sanitation facilities to communities that have little or no access to clean water. In six years, the orgamization has brought clean water to 3 million people through water projects: hand-dug and drilled wells, ranwater catchments, water purification systems, spring protections and latrines.
An Afterword to the Coffee Charity List
While charity and assistance is important, we also believe that the best way to support and aid our coffee-growing partners is to support businesses that treat them fairly and ethically. When you read the stories of our featured coffee roasters, you'll find that nearly all of them are committed to building relationships with coffee farmers that go beyond paying a small premium for coffee beans. We're proud to be associated with roasters and manufacturers who see ethical trade and sustainable growing as more than industry buzz words. Whenever you make a purchase from a company that is committed to fair and ethical trading, you are helping to build a sustainable future, not just for excellent coffee, but for all the people who help bring it to your table.
Photo credit: Coffee Heart | BeverlyLR