What is all this shadegrown stuff?
Coffee was traditionally grown under a natural canopy - taller trees in a forest. This produced a sustainable yield, and allowed the farmers to grow multiple crops around the coffee trees, often food crops for the farmers and their families.
Why is it important?
Most coffee nowadays is grown without a canopy, i.e. the forests are being cleared to grow coffee. This means that ecosystems are being destroyed to make way for the cash crop. Subsequent effects are that the coffee plants need more supplements such as water and fertiliser, and are more prone to disease, requiring more pesticides and herbicides.
These crops require more intensive farming in a world where coffee is a commodity that is returning less and less to the farmer. When yields by this method are high, the coffee market gets swamped and prices are driven down. Some years the farmer receives less than it costs to grow the coffee! Meanwhile, with no other crop to earn money or feed his family, the consequences are extremely harsh.
We do not believe that it is ethical that our morning cup of coffee should harm either the environment or other people. The farmers should not have to use expensive, and potentially hazardous agricultural inputs to produce a sustainable and manageable crop. Farmers should be paid a fair price for their crop that is not driven by international corporations' profit margin. We believe that the benefits are a better cup that doesn't cost a lot more than a "normal cup".
What do all these things mean?
Organic is a fairly well known term - the crop is grown to organic standards. All our coffee is organically grown, we are presently working on how we get our roasting operation certified as organic without breaking the bank. You are welcome to ask us questions in relation to organics and our coffee.
Fair Trade - The grower is paid a fair, and sustainable price for the crop. You can find out more about fair trade at the Trade Aid NZ website or the Oxfam NZ website. At this stage our coffee is certified as fair trade from our broker, but not from us. We are looking at the logistics and issues regarding certification — as we made a conscious effort to keep our prices competitive, we did not factor in a Fair Trade licence. We are working on a solution, and hope to achieve this in due course. In the meantime, we are happy to answer any questions you have regarding Fair Trade and our coffee.
Shade Grown - An extension from Organic - not only organically grown, but grown in a manner that is not detrimental to the wider environment. The following site has more information on the importance of shade grown coffee.
We try to source coffee that is all of the above - we specify to our broker that it must be fairly traded, organic and shade grown. It is not necessarily certified, as the certification can cost more than the value of the crop grown in some instances. We are always happy to discuss, or answer any questions in regards to this.
We believe that the socially and environmentally responsible thing to do is to insist on organic, fair trade and shade grown coffee.
Our coffee broker is a leader in their field at establishing sustainable harvests using organic principals, and investing in the local coffee growing community.
That's why we use them...