Coffee Sustainability: Challenges for Farmers, Suppliers & Consumers

By | November 4, 2019

For years we have enjoyed good coffee, reasonable prices & a burgeoning industry that supplies perhaps one of the world’s favorite drinks. But there are challenges on the horizon on many fronts to the future of our favorite drink. To bring yourself up to speed… check out these links:

Table of Contents

Coffee Sustainability: what is sustainable coffee exactly?

The concept of sustainability is rather nebulous at best, however. I shall attempt to define it in three broad categories:

  • I. the cultivation and process of green beans
  • II. purchasing, distribution, processing of those beans
  • III. final destination preparation for coffee drinks and dry coffee

This article hopes to explore the issues of coffee sustainability and ask what we can do to make sure that everyone can continue to enjoy this wonderful product.

sustainable coffee

Five Kinds of Sustainable Coffee

FairTrade Coffee

FairTrade Coffee helps to bridge some of the gap between the farmers and the consumer, like you and me. The general goal is to help farmers and their workers earn equitable rates for coffee beans. But it’s not just for farmers’ incomes, FairTrade coffee aims to support both producers and appropriate practices.

Organic Coffee

Organic Coffee aims to avoid using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and other compounds commonly used in modern farming. Organic means that the coffee is 100% naturally sourced, naturally grown, and produced.

Shade Grown

Shade grown coffee plants were originally grown in the shade of trees, but with recent advances in coffee plantations, more hardened coffee plants were introduced, with the inevitable increase in unsustainable practices. Shade grown coffee is a throwback to traditional techniques.


Coffee rust disease has been decimating coffee crops across Latin America for years. GMO varieties have been cultivated for increasing coffee plant yield, fighting disease (like coffee rust), and to deal with water shortages, cold in the higher elevations, insects, and help with weed killer. Naturally, customers are apprehensive about the Franken coffees, and seek out non-GMO coffee sources.

Natural Process

Most coffee cherries, once picked, are wet processed to remove the outer fruit and skin. Dry processing involves letting nature take its time to dry out the beans, and it doesn’t require advanced machinery or power. It is often done in areas where there is less chance of rain, too.

The beans are turned occasionally to ensure that they dry out properly. It may take four weeks to dry out the beans properly. The farmers are waiting for the right level of moisture in the beans for proper storage and further processing into coffee.

Available near: What is the future for sustainable coffee?

Other kinds of sustainable coffee available in the marketplace also include Rainforest Alliance, and Direct Trade. You can find them from good retailers, large Internet stores, and local roasters, too.


Return from sustainable coffee to types of coffee beans!

What are the different types of coffee beans, find out here!

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