Earth Day and Coffee

April has come and gone, but let’s not forget Earth Day so soon. Earth Day represents the birth of the modern environmental movement. Your imagination is the only limit to the things you can do to celebrate. Any idea you may have to become more environmentally conscious is fair game. The specialty coffee industry has many participants eager to help. There are three major eco-friendly movements within the specialty coffee industry: the Fair Trade organization, the shade grown coffees practice, and the organic farming method.

Earth Day
Earth Day [112:365] by Michael Daines

Fair Trade is an organization dedicated to creating direct trading relationships with the small coffee farmers. This business model cuts out the middle-man and directs more of the profits to the family coffee farm. This keeps the good small farmer from being squeezed out by the large plantations, and allows small farmers to provide for their families. Look for the Fair Trade Certification on coffees in your local shop, or visit Fair Trade USA at to learn more about their organization.

Shade grown coffee has risen with the movement to protect the rain forests and now to help protect migratory birds. Coffee has been shade grown for many centuries by small farms, but only recently has it become a selling feature. Bird lovers were interested in protecting the habitats of migratory birds that winter in Central and South America. Bird lovers are trying to use their consumer powers by purchasing ‘shade’ grown coffee in an attempt to increase the demand. They hope that more shade grown farms will be created to fill the new demand. Look for the shade grown label.

Lastly there is organically grown coffee. A simple definition of ‘organic’ is coffee that is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides which can harm the local environment. A lot of confusion is caused by producers labeling their coffees as organic when they are not. You must look for an authentic organic certification label to be sure. If you find yourself confused about organically grown coffee, the best thing to do is to contact your local roaster, who should be more than happy to help. You can also find a lot of good information about organic coffees on the Internet by starting at and following the links.

By simply using coffee prepared from the methods described above you can say you are doing your part for Earth Day every day of the year.

Written by
Creative editing provided by Frank Mand
Copyright 2001

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CB Miller

Small coffee roasters are perking up all over the country, recreating styles and blends which were nearly impossible to find just a few years ago. The quality of these blends remains unparalleled by those of the giant coffee companies. However, it is difficult to experience these wonderfully fresh roasted coffees because the roasters are scattered all over the country.

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