Eco-Rep Green Corner: Clean beans prove to be best brew

If you are anything like the majority of college students and me, one of your first thoughts upon waking up in the morning is “I need coffee.” As a college student, it is easy to find yourself knee-deep in work. Oftentimes, it’s impossible to get enough sleep to keep you going. The solution? Coffee.

Coffee has probably been your best friend on the most stressful of days. It has been there for you when all of your friends have abandoned you for sleep, but have you ever stopped to wonder where it comes from? Stop taking your coffee for granted and learn more about how it affects the world. Take your understanding of coffee beans beyond your addiction.

Approximately 400 million cups of coffee are consumed each day in America. After petroleum, coffee beans are the second most globally-traded product. In many countries, such as Ethiopia, New Guinea and Guatemala, coffee beans are one of the only items of export. In a sense, coffee beans provide many with a means to live — whether it is a simple caffeine addiction or the economic sustainability of a country. However, like most valuable things, coffee bean production is often done in ways that are not eco-friendly. Rainforests inhabited by endangered species are often cleared for coffee plantations. When shopping for coffee, it is important to look for coffee beans that are “shade grown,” “organic” and “fair trade.”

When a bag of coffee beans is marked with “shade grown,” it means the coffee beans were grown on plantations that have a natural tree canopy over them. This kind of coffee bean plantation is environmentally friendly because it does not require whole rainforests to be cleared. These plantations prevent habitat fragmentation and promote natural animal habitats. These coffee beans are also often referred to as “bird-friendly” coffee beans.
Coffee beans that are approved by the USDA as “organic” are good because they are healthier for the consumer and the field workers. Pesticides and other chemicals used during production of inorganic coffee beans are detrimental to the health of field workers who come into direct contact with the substances. When consumed, these chemicals can be cancer-inducing. Buying organic coffee beans ensures that the coffee you are consuming is toxin-free.
Buying coffee that is fair trade is important because it prevents buyers from taking advantage of sellers. This helps the environment because when farmers sell their coffee beans at a fair price, they don’t need to sell as much in order to sustain their livelihoods; as a result, less land is cleared for coffee plantations.

As you probably already know, Rider University caters through Aramark. According to Aramark’s website, they serve coffees certified as organic, fair trade and shade grown. According to each company’s website, coffee providers such as Starbucks, Seattle’s Best and Green Mountain are also making an effort to reduce their carbon footprints and create better, cleaner coffee beans.

Buying cleaner coffee beans is not as difficult as it may seem. For example, you could pick up a bag of organic coffee beans from Small World Coffee. Coffee certified in all three areas can easily be purchased online for approximately $16 to $20.

Even though it may be difficult to afford coffee that has been certified in all three fields, it is important to understand the effects of a single cup of coffee. Being aware of where your coffee comes from, what’s in your coffee and how your coffee is grown is important.


– Jocelyn Su

Westminster Eco-Rep


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