Is Your Coffee Responsible?
If you’ve got a restaurant in your hotel, you probably serve coffee. Where does it come from?
The use of beans (actually, they’re seeds) from the coffee plant was first practiced in Yemen and Ethiopia, and the cultivation of coffee first expanded in the Arab world, moving from there to Italy, then to the rest of Europe, and finally to the Americas.
One easy way to greenify your restaurant is by choosing coffee that is both socially and ecologically responsible:
- Fair trade. This is coffee purchased directly from the growers, generally for a higher price than standard coffee. The philosophy behind fair trade products is to promote healthier working conditions and greater economic benefits for coffee farmers. A Fair Trade Certification label is available since 1988 for coffee and other products. A large percentage of Starbucks coffee, for example, was purchased following fair trade standards.
- Organic. This is coffee that has been grown without chemical herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers. 75% of organic coffee comes from Latin America, with Peru and Mexico being the largest growers. Much organic coffee is also shade grown coffee, leading us to the next point.
- Shade grown. In its natural environment, coffee most often grows in the shade. However, sun tolerant coffee plants have been developed that produce three times the amount of coffee each year, compared to shade grown plants. Sun tolerant coffee requires chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. It is generally cultivated in areas that have been deforested specifically for the cultivation of coffee. Shade grown coffee is generally planted in an existing forest with little disruption of the native plants. In adding the coffee plants to the existing forest, the native ecosystem does not suffer a total alteration of its environment, and the shade coffee farms are often homes to a wide variety of native birds.
Sound like a hard product to source? Not really. If you Google “shade grown fair trade organic coffee sources” you’ll come up with a large list of providers that fulfill all three varieties.
Once you’ve sourced a local provider, be sure to add to your menus that all of your coffee is fair trade, organic, and shade grown. Your guests will appreciate it, and so will the planet!