We love coffee, it is the world’s favourite beverage. But the global coffee industry is a massive and unfair business with inherent sustainability issues. It is basically built on an extraction model taking cheap labour for granted and depleting natural resources.
While coffee is a multi-billion USD industry, prices paid to coffee farmers are often so low that farmers in many cases are operating at loss:
– They struggle to have an income that covers basic needs, such as healthy diets, education, housing, and healthcare.
– Farmers can’t afford to pay fair wages, reinvest in their farm, or produce sustainably.
– The coffee sector is ageing, young people are not continuing their family farms.
The way most coffee is produced today is a significant driver of both climate change and biodiversity loss. The environmental side effects of unsustainable farming are among others water pollution and contamination of waterways, poor or no waste management, greenhouse gas emissions, degrading ecosystems due to deforestation and monoculture.
But we can change this. While coffee is a wasteful business it entails opportunities, too. Today, we make use of less than 1% of the nutritional value of the coffee plant. Most of the coffee plant is wasted, just to extract the bean. A lot of that waste occurs at farm level, where it pollutes soil and groundwater. Experts estimate that 9 million tonnes of fruit pulp are thrown away. This calls for a circular transformation of the industry, and that is what we have set out to do.