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Why is Sustainability Important in the Coffee Industry?

Sustainability has been a hot topic in the past
five years; however, the enduring environmental, economic and social health of
the coffee farmers are integral for the coffee industry to survive. A decreased
amount of biodiversity in farm lands and farmers being paid pennies are some of
the key issues that the coffee industry is experiencing.

What is Sustainability?

In simple terms sustainability means that we’re
meeting the needs of the people today without jeopardising the needs of people
in the future. In terms of coffee we’re taking into consideration the triple
bottom line which includes: people, planet & profit.

How Does Sustainability associate with the Coffee

Sustainability hasn’t just come onto to the scene
in terms of importance, it’s been considered since the very first international
coffee agreement which took place in the 1960’s. There was a conversation on
how to reduce the amount of excess in the coffee industry to make sure of
financial sustainability. Many coffee farms are based in third world countries which
have a high poverty rate and a non-existent social infrastructure. The exposed
coffee farmers and their families are living in a highly unpredictable coffee
market which isn’t economically sustainable for them. Economic sustainability
is linked to social sustainability of the poorest communities in the coffee

Coffee prices have always been unstable and this gives
coffee farmer’s families uncertainty regarding access to: education, food and
healthcare. Since coffee farms are in largely isolated locations, this effects
the costs of purchasing important tools and transporting goods along the coffee
chain. When the coffee price falls this cost remain constant making the tools
and transportation costs unaffordable, leading to farms having to close.

There are other social inequalities that has had
detrimental effects on the industry. Gender inequalities are a huge problem.
Women coffee farmers produce less crops than male farmers because they have a
significant lack of equipment. There is research that suggests that if we
reduced the gender gap, we could create up to 30 billion more cups of coffee a
year. The other key issue that needs addressing is child labour as they’re
regularly used as cherry pickers in plantations in third-world countries. 

Importance of Environmental Sustainability

This is one of the most important issues facing the
coffee industry. Sustainability looks after the environment for future
generations.  Coffee farms require large
plots of land which leads to huge scale deforestation.  Not only does the deforestation of thousands
of trees have an impact on the environment, the subsequent exports of goods
effects climate change.  Climate Change leads
to erratic weather systems which can sometimes  
destroy crops by flooding, draughts and unpredictable rainfall. When
this happens, they have no crops to sell on to make a profit, to sustain their

Coffee Farming has a detrimental effect on the
biodiversity of the land. However, some methods are more harmful than others. Growing
coffee under shade trees helps preserve the local environment.  Although, the majority of farms are
monocultural farms, which means that only one crop is grown there. This a
negative impact on the quality of top soil and growth of crops.

How Does Fair Trade Help Sustainability of the
Coffee Industry?

Fair Trade requires companies to pay sustainable
prices for the product they’re receiving. The organisation tries to eliminate
the injustices facing the poor farmers that aren’t getting sustainable wages
that they deserve. Fair Trade has been effective in its responsibility of
monitoring the agreement between the large corporations and the small coffee
farms. They have enhanced the standards of living of many vulnerable

Us for Coffee Industry Consultancy

If you’re looking for coffee industry consultancy services, look no further, we have the industry experience to meet your requirements. Please get in touch with our friendly coffee engineers on 02039 574961 or you can use our contact form. We serve the UK and Ireland.

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