You have either heard or seen the word sustainability in many places. Sustainability is the ability to maintain something that already exists. In 1987, the world was introduced to this definition by the report "Our Common Future" published by the World Commission on Environment and Development. In its simple form, something sustainable can renew itself or maintain its current state. While meeting our own needs with a sustainable lifestyle, we also provide opportunities for future generations to be self-sufficient.
The future of coffee depends on the sustainability of the process from planting it in the field until the cup is filled with its pleasant smell.
What is sustainability?
Briefly; To improve and improve the lives of coffee farmers and coffee workers economically and socially, to provide them with a better standard of living, is to ensure the continuation of coffee in the coffee production, distribution and sales process by being respectful to people, the environment and the future.
When we talk about coffee and sustainability, we can talk about three sub-topics: people, planet and profit.
In the countries where it was grown (usually countries located on the equator and consisting of rainforests), coffee was grown by planting it in the empty lands under the forests. Countries could develop and meet their main needs such as health and education thanks to coffee. But when people and companies saw the increasing demand for coffee and took action, it caused both the farmers producing coffee and therefore the countries to become poorer. They have become unable to meet the simplest education and health needs. The companies that deal with the production started to produce coffee made under the forest by converting forest areas to agricultural areas in order to gain more profit. In other words, they cause long-term environmental impacts for short-term profits. Production is increasing, coffee is getting cheaper. While large companies engaged in mass production make a profit, domestic farmers become unable to meet their simplest needs.
There is also the process of collecting coffee. Picking small coffee berries is a time-consuming and injurious task. Due to the maximum efficiency to be obtained from the agricultural area, only physically weak workers can enter among the frequently planted coffee trees. In this case, young children make up the largest workforce in the coffee plantations. Unfortunately, one of the areas where child labor is the highest is coffee farming.
Sustainable farming gives more to the land and people than they take in. By using renewable resources as much as possible, it is distinguished from others using non-renewable resources. Sustainable agriculture also minimizes pollution by taking measures that protect the environment.
For example, in sustainable farms, heating is provided by burning coffee residues and old coffee trees instead of cutting eucalyptus trees. New trees are planted in place of the trees used for heating.
The dryers used in coffee drying are solar dryers that do not pollute the environment.
Some measures are taken to reduce water use in sustainable farming. The water used is purified and reused. Waste water used in fermentation tanks is not poured into lakes and rivers. It is naturally filtered with soil and used to irrigate coffee trees again. In some very good farms, coffee beans with softened tops are fermented for a short time without using any water and then sent to the sorting machine. This method allows to maintain some of the best Brazilian coffees while also reducing water consumption.
In the sustainable farm, the coffee poured under the coffee trees is ground and composted and used as natural fertilizer to feed the field. It has been observed that this type of fertilization keeps the natural mineral balance of the field at the best level and increases the yield.
Trainings are given to develop employees in sustainable farms. Health care is provided for employees. Better wages and favorable working conditions are offered.
Research the sustainability of your coffee, its origin and farming method when buying your coffee. Consider the most sustainable way to prepare. And consider whether you can support the projects of an organization that promotes sustainability.
You can look at some of the certificates your coffee brand may have so that you can drink your coffee with peace of mind without harming the ecosystem and anyone. Certificates are valid only for their field and do not guarantee that the brand is 100% sustainable, but it is a big step for sustainability.