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Thread: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

  1. #1
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    [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

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    Greenies on a coffee crusade

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Coffee is the next target for sustainable agriculture crusaders. By Giles Parkinson.
    Exactly how do you define a "good" cup of coffee? Is it just the taste, aroma and texture, and its ability to sustain you through another dreaded meeting? Or should the criteria for a "good" cup also include the origins of the coffee beans themselves? How were they produced, by whom? And at what environmental and social cost?

    Does anyone care? Apparently so. The concept of ethical living and consumerism is reaching fever pitch in some societies, particularly in Europe. Consumers want to know whether the goods they buy are environmentally and socially sound. Corporations, conscious of brand and locked in battles to retain the best talent, are taking concepts such as corporate social responsibility more seriously than they ever have.

    The coffee industry is one of the worlds biggest. An estimated $100 billion of coffee beans are consumed each year, making it the second most valuable commodity after crude oil. But its also been one of the most environmentally destructive - deforestation and uncontrolled chemical use have been rampant. The growers, mostly in developing countries, receive about 3 for every $3 latte you consume. The conditions for their workers have been variously described as poor to appalling.

    Australians are relative newcomers to serious coffee drinking, but they are catching up fast. Last year, about 1.26 billion cups of coffee worth about $3bn were served in Australia, about two-thirds more than 10 years ago.

    Sabrina Vigilante, the marketing head of the New York-based NGO Rainforest Alliance, is in the middle of a campaign to attract corporations to sign up for "certified" coffee beans. Certified means that the producers meet demanding environmental and social standards, which are independently verified.

    Vigilante hopes to repeat the success the alliance struck with banana producers, an industry also once infamous for environmental and social abuses, including the use of dangerous pesticides, poor working conditions, water pollution and deforestation.

    The alliance helped steer the producers towards more sustainable and socially responsible farming practices. Now, says Vigilante, 15% of all bananas in international trade are from Rainforest Alliance--certified farms, accounting for 10,000 farms and 600,000 hectares of tropical farmland. Being certified means they have improved their water quality, run recycling and safe waste disposal programs, dramatically decreased agri--chemical use and improved the quality of life for farmer workers and their families.

    So far just 1.5% of the worlds coffee is sourced from Rainforest Alliance-certified producers, but Vigilante hopes that within seven years this can rise to 10%, covering about 12 million hectares worldwide.

    Last month the alliance signed a deal with Gloria Jeans Coffees to dramatically increase the amount of coffee sourced from certified producers. Gloria Jeans sources 20% of the coffee it serves in Australia from certified producers, but plans to quadruple that percentage.

    According to Nabi Saleh, the chairman of Gloria Jeans and owner of its franchise in Australia and internationally, this will lift the tonnage of certified beans it roasts in Australia to 1750 tonnes in the next 12 months from 207 tonnes last year. "My commitment is to reach 80% and keep going further," he says. "What you sow in life is what you get out of life. Its not just about the coffee and the poverty, its about having the world as a better place."

    Vigilante says about 60 corporations have signed up to Rainforest Alliance programs since it took its first program to the corporate world in 1999, and the number is increasing rapidly. A separate program covering the forestry industry has locked in some 40 million hectares of forest to sustainable practices.

    She says Rainforest Alliance differs from other programs because it combines both the social aspects of groups such as Fairtrade and the environmental goals of other organisations. It also wants to involve mainstream brands, rather than focusing on niche markets.

    "Its not just a marketing tool, its a business philosophy," says Vigilante. "Its the way to do business in the 21st century. It makes sense, everyone wins - the grower wins, the roaster wins, the brand wins, the consumer wins."

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    Re: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

    Support the local Aussie coffee growers and you dont have to worry about the above issues mentioned,and your money stays in Australia.The locals do grow good coffee and some of them grow exceptional coffee.The more support they get the better the product for the consumer.We should be consuming at least 1% locally grown and cafes should have a grinder seperate,full of local beans at least for us to choose.Imagine going to your local hotel to find that they serve only one type of beer,and its imported!

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    Re: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

    Quote Originally Posted by elbeano link=1191237388/0#1 date=1191538977
    .Imagine going to your local hotel to find that they serve only one type of beer,and its imported!
    That would be great save having to drink yukky beer *:( . Thank god ive found one pub that has imported beer on tap. *;D ;) :P

    Andrew

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    Re: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

    Hmmm

    Last month the alliance signed a deal with Gloria Jeans Coffees to dramatically increase the amount of coffee sourced from certified producers. Gloria Jeans sources 20% of the coffee it serves in Australia from certified producers, but plans to quadruple that percentage.

    According to Nabi Saleh, the chairman of Gloria Jeans and owner of its franchise in Australia and internationally, this will lift the tonnage of certified beans it roasts in Australia to 1750 tonnes in the next 12 months from 207 tonnes last year. "My commitment is to reach 80% and keep going further," he says. "What you sow in life is what you get out of life. Its not just about the coffee and the poverty, its about having the world as a better place."
    While this is fine as far as it goes, and Im not speaking as a fan of their coffee (Im not) or of their business principles (probably shrewd), Im disappointed in them as theyre certainly meant to be Christians! If this doesnt mean they have a moral obligation looking after the poor and needy in all walks of life .....ie. coffee growers in fairly harsh conditions....then I dont really know what it *does* mean.

    20% is fairly shameful for an christian business, and even 80% is - wheres the 100% announcement? Now *that* would be good business for them.

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    Re: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

    Quote Originally Posted by elbeano link=1191237388/0#1 date=1191538977
    Support the local Aussie coffee growers and you dont have to worry about the above issues mentioned,and your money stays in Australia.The locals do grow good coffee and some of them grow exceptional coffee.The more support they get the better the product for the consumer.We should be consuming at least 1% locally grown and cafes should have a grinder seperate,full of local beans at least for us to choose.Imagine going to your local hotel to find that they serve only one type of beer,and its imported!
    Sure, support local growers...thats all well and good, but when the price is $35/kg green for the top stuff, there arent that many roasteries out there that can make these beans a staple part of their blends. The price is so high because a lot of it goes overseas.


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    Re: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

    When you start thinking about coffee, and other products, like this it becomes a bit of double-edged sword really. All for being careful of the impact on the enironment of the goods we buy. But than to say only buy from Australia means than taking the income away from those who make their living off farming coffee. Sure RFA and F/T at least help think about the impact on the envirnoment and fair price for the farmer and although these type of certifications mean bumping up the price of coffee some it is probably worth it. And if these arent ideal we need to work on finding initiatives that will benefit the farmer and the environment. Obviously we need to work on supporting the Aussie market as well. It is hard to find the right balance for it all, but is probably worth a lot of thought and critique along the way. It may not all change in a day but starting to change it is a good thing. I am sure mistakes will be made along the way as well, but as long as that goes into the learning process than that is fine.

    Environmental impact, fair wages, and supporting Australian growers are all things worth considering. And realistically all of these things will probably impact the price of the product through all the stages. I for one would be prepared to pay more for a more environmentally healthy and fair product. Realistically it shouldnt mean huge impacts on price though if it is done right, as long as the middle companies dont jack up the price for no benefit to the farmer. Obvioulsy Australian coffee is going to cost more with out wages and not much can probably be done about that. If we went all Aussie though we need to consider how we can supporters the farmers overseas who will lose their income in other ways.

    Some ramble I know and is considering both the environmental issues raised in the article as well as fair trade but I think the issues will go hand in hand in the future as they are both isses that need to be addressed and arent exclusive issues. Some thoughts anyway.

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    Re: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

    A lot of aussie coffee plantations from what I have heard are all mechanised, thus not requiring people to be paid. A few people pick here and there but not like brazil where something like 3/4 of the population is involved in the coffee industry and its offshoots.

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    Re: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

    Quote Originally Posted by Wushoes - David S link=1191237388/0#4 date=1191812125
    Sure, support local growers...thats all well and good, but when the price is $35/kg green for the top stuff, there arent that many roasteries out there that can make these beans a staple part of their blends. The price is so high because a lot of it goes overseas.
    Where does it go to exactly?

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    Re: [article] Greenies on a coffee crusade

    Into a grinder,machine,cup,mouth and then toilet?.....then back to Mother Earth.



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