The whole purpose of “Coffee Money Causes” is to encourage us to think about how we habitually spend our money. What if we gave the five dollars we daily drop at Starbucks to a company or organization working to meet the needs and sufferings of so many in this world?
A small decision—made on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis—with radically awesome consequences.
But I really do need my morning coffee, you might be thinking.
Last month I offered a list of five organizations working to alleviate child suffering around the globe.
This month I’m sharing five ethical coffee companies that are giving their profits back to their communities. These independent roasters are supporting farmers and families, protecting the Rain Forest, and making a positive impact on this world.
According to the International Labour Organization, there are coffee farms and plantations found in more than 70 tropical and subtropical countries—the main producers being Brazil, Colombia, and Vietnam. At least 25 million people work on these plantations, and the majority of the labor is either slave or child labor. Children as young as six years old in Honduras make up approximately 20% of the labor force during the planting seasons (June – August) and nearly 40% of the labor force during the harvesting seasons (November – February).
They, as you can imagine, have little to no rights, are exposed to harsh pesticides and chemical fertilizers that are banned in the United States, and are being exploited so we can have our daily coffee fix. Fair Trade USA notes that coffee farmers are earning less than their grandparents did decades ago.
As large as this problem may seem, it doesn’t have to be this way. By changing the daily decisions we make regarding our favorite caffeinated drink, we can offer hope. Cultivate change. DO something about it so, quite frankly, shit like this doesn’t keep happening.
Sure, supporting some of the coffee houses I’ve listed below may mean ordering your coffee beans from someplace farther than your nearest Target. It may be “inconvenient” for us to pay those few extra dollars for shipping and handling.
But sometimes the right choice isn’t always the most convenient. And if a few extra dollars for shipping means keeping even one child out of slave labor, I’m happy with a little “inconvenience.”
Check out these five awesome coffee roasters that are creatively giving back:
Three Avocados Coffee got its name after one of the founders traveled to a small village in Uganda and witnessed a Ugandan woman give all that she had—three avocados—to her village’s church so that others in the community could eat. Their goal is to make sure that “the poor throughout the world are cared for and are never forgotten.” 100% of Three Avocados’ net proceeds go to ending the global water crisis, starting with providing clean water to the people of Uganda.
Mocha Joe’s offers what they call Direct Alternative coffees that are produced through long term relationships with farmers in Cameroon, Bolivia, and Guatemala. They co-create coffees with local farmers that helps improve their economic situation and reduce any stress put on the environment. They are not only creating Fair Trade, organic, and Rain Forest Alliance coffee beans, but they are also offering a sustainable lifestyle for farmers and families in the region.
Stumptown Coffee has a “Green Team” that visits their producers as often as possible in order to build long-lasting partnerships with farmers around the globe. Producers for Stumptown make up to four times what they might get for their crop on the commodity market, earning a fair wage as well as a sense of prestige and pride for the work that goes into their crop. Stumptown buys directly from the people that are making the coffee, helping farms become sustainable and setting up businesses that help strengthen communities.
Based in North Carolina, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee is creating a path for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The coffee house is founded by the Wright family, who named their shop after their two children with Down Syndrome. Currently, Bitty & Beau’s employs 40 individuals with IDD, and they work to create opportunities for people with IDD to be included, valued, and celebrated in their communities.
Equal Exchange, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, is one of the largest democratic, worker-owned co-op in the country. This worker co-op is owned by all the employees in equal portions rather than outside shareholders or a small group of founders. Equal Exchange aims to “keep small farmers an active part of the world marketplace” and “to empower consumers to make purchases that support their values.” They source from over 40 small farm organizations across the globe and offer innovative programs such as crop diversification and women’s leadership development. They also sell tea and chocolate (!).
What other ethical coffee brands do you love? Share them below! As well as your favorite blend!
If you’re interested, read more below about the coffee industry from these great sources:
- Fairtrade International: “Child and Forced Labour“
- Food Empowerment Project: “Bitter Brew: The Stirring Reality of Coffee“
- Fairtrade USA: “Child Labor in Coffee Supply Chains“
- ILO: “International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour: Safety and Health Fact Sheet“
- FairTrade International: “Fairtrade and Coffee“