Earth Day - What it means to be Certified Organic

Posted by Rosa Sarabia on

It is the 51st annual Earth Day and we are reflecting on what it means to commit to sustainability and the future of this planet. We want to reaffirm our year-round dedication to sustainability for you, our customers, and to our farmer-owners whose livelihoods depend on enacting real change. 

At Pachamama Coffee, we view sustainability on three separate fronts: economic, social and environmental. Fifteen years ago we created a simple supply chain to address issues of equity and equality that challenge the coffee, and this is only one of the steps to take in pursuing sustainability in coffee. Today, we’ll dive into our environmental efforts and what it means to be certified organic coffee. This goes beyond the label and into the lives of the small-scale farmers who own Pachamama. 

What is Certified Organic?

Certified organic products must meet rigorous standards from seed to final packaging. This means that on the farm there are no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and only natural products are used to help grow the coffee. The facilities used to store, sort, process, and even roast the coffee must also meet these standards. Organic farming practices are not only great for the quality of the final product, but this way of farming protects the land, water sources and preserves soil for future crops and generations to continue to work the land. 

“The most important thing of producing organic coffee is not polluting the water sources,” said Eriberto, a Pachamama farmer in Nicaragua. “The water sources are used by humans, but also by other animals and the bees.” Video tour of an organic coffee farm in Nicaragua.

What is shade grown coffee? 

On top of being certified organic, our coffee is also shade grown. Shade grown coffee differs because the coffee trees are grown in their natural habitat. Coffee growing regions typically have forest canopies and biodiverse habitats that rely on the natural environment to coexist. Many large scale coffee growing operations have clear cut areas in order to grow more trees, but shade grown coffee preserves the integrity of the soil and protects animal habitats. . Our farmers are small-scale producers, not large scale multinationals. Our farmers rely on a healthy, natural environment to continue producing their crops. 

Pachamama coffee farmers in Nicaragua 
Why is organic and shade grown important?

Climate change is already affecting coffee producing regions, and it will only continue unless the mass majority of us commit to sustainable harvesting practices. We can already see damage to coffee trees through things like coffee rust, insect infestations and declining supply that will continue to change the quality and quantity of crops. According to a study in the journal Climatic Change,  about half of the land used to produce high-quality coffee could be unproductive by the year 2050. 

Investing in organic practices on our farms and shade grown coffee are just a few actionable steps we take on a day to day basis to try and protect our environment and the future of coffee. 

We don’t see this certification as a checklist of things to do. It’s a commitment to the environment, to our farmers’ futures, to the coffee system, to our consumers and to the future of this planet. We were awarded the 2021 Sustainable Business Model by SCA and we don't take this lightly. We know there is so much more work to be done and we are committed to continuing our mission and to always do better. 

Starting this month, online purchases have carbon offsets to cut down on our emissions from shipping: this is done through the company Pachama, who invests into maintaining and preserving forests around the world. We are committed to switching our coffee packaging and to-go services in the cafe to more compostable and recyclable products by 2022. 

From packaging to shipping to single-use waste, we are looking for broader solutions to address these large scale issues and to start we are creating an internal sustainability task force. If you or someone you know has ideas for solutions, let us work together to make the future of coffee more sustainable: fill out this form with any suggestions or feedback, so we can get the conversation started.

Our work has only just begun. 

If you are looking for ways to invest in the future of coffee, consider donating a tree to our coffee farmers in the region of your choice:

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