It is time for one of Canada's most well known promotions, Tim Horton's R-r-r-roll up the R-r-r-rim to win. So I thought it was an opportune time to point you towards the coffee you should be drinking, iconic Canadian Businesses and contests aside.
Let's talk about what we'd like to do today while we drink our morning cup of coffee. I'll wait while you have that first sip. Okay, while I have that first sip. Got any plans? How about making a pledge that will 1) help reduce poverty in the world, 2) help slow the degradation of forests in the tropics, 3) reduce the use of pesticides around the world, 4) make the world a better place for birds, including neo-tropical migrants - those birds that we love to see return to us every spring, and 5) give you a much better tasting cup of coffee than that one you just took your first sip from?
Let's talk about sustainable coffee. First things first, there are others out there who do a masterful job of explaining sustainable coffee. If you don't already do so, make it a point to read my friend Julie's blog - Coffee and Conservation. Bookmark it. Add it to your Feed Burner/Reader. And if you haven't visited it before, explore it, poke around. It is filled with resources that succinctly explain the positive impact that the simple choice of choosing sustainable coffee over corporate brands. Julie is passionate about a number of things, birds, coffee and making the world a better place are chief amongst them.
In North America we drink a lot of coffee. It is the number one food import in the US and probably in Canada also. Over half of us over the age of ten drink coffee, and coffee drinkers average over three cups a day. Corporate coffee, brands such as Folgers, Nestle, Maxwell House, Tim's etc makes up the largest volume of that coffee drank. It accounts for 80 % of the coffee in the US and some 40% of the coffee bought world wide. Coffee drinkers, by demanding something other than the junk that comes out of those cans, could make a significant difference in the health of the environment, for not a great deal more money. I know my situation is somewhat different given where I live. But my coffee, that I mostly get from Equator Coffee (free shipping), costs me roughly the same as Maxwell House or Tim's from the local store.
Does the coffee you drink make a difference? Yes it does. Does sustainable coffee taste better? Oh yeah. Don't just take my word for it, apart from comments about the House itself, I get more compliments about the coffee I serve here than anything else. Coffee, once it is roasted, spoils quickly. Even more quickly once it is ground. That is the main reason that your stomach might get upset after a cup or two of coffee. Since I began writing this this morning I've drank a whole pot of Yirgacheffe (Organic, Fairtrade) and my stomach isn't complaining at all. My tastebuds are doing little happy dances though.
Look, it is a complex subject, just the different certifications - Fairtrade, Bird Friendly, Shade Grown, Rainforest Alliance etc. can make your head spin, and have their strengths and weaknesses. This one post is not going to do the subject justice. But here is what I'd like you to do. Go visit Coffee and Conservation and learn more. But more importantly, make a pledge that after you're finished with that can of coffee that is in your cupboard you'll switch to something better. Roll up the Rim of a bag of sustainable coffee. You won't regret it, the birds and environment won't regret it (and if you're a birder and haven't yet switched for shame - this is one of the simplest things you can do to help those birds you love), and you'll have a much better cup of coffee in the morning.