AT on... The Continuing Coffee Debate

AT on... The Continuing Coffee Debate

Amber Byfield
Sep 24, 2009

Each morning as the trip to the office nears, we turmoil about stopping at a coffeeshop on the way in. For months, we brewed our joe at home, but over the hot summer that fell out of favor and the coffee maker currently resides on a high shelf. So until we pull that bad boy back down, we're at the mercy of the shops. And yet, it got us thinking about the debate that never seems to end: is coffee green?

While we make it a point to purchase organic, fair-trade certified coffee, and support the locally owned shops who buy organic and fair-trade coffee, too, we keep hearing that coffee is bad for the environment.

Years ago, we were employed by a large coffee chain that, ahem, shall remain unnamed. There, we learned about the different ways to process coffee beans: wet processing and dry processing. A lot of the anti-coffee information out there seems to suggest that simply processing coffee takes too much water. Well, that's true for coffee beans processed with the wet method, but what about those processed with the heat of the sun (dry)?

On top of it, we visited one coffee farm in Costa Rica and it was simply gorgeous, backing up to a rainforest and surrounded by rustic wire fences. It didn't look like an environmentally unstable operation. But it wasn't growing coffee to be sold worldwide, so we wonder if larger plantations operate similarly.

Some diatribes against coffee are directed at one very large market share. Over at EcoSalon, they didn't mince words about Starbucks, but for us that's only part of the equation.

Then again, even if we changed our twice- or thrice-a-week coffee habit... not to sound cynical, but what impact would that have on this worldwide industry?

As you can see, we're not sure exactly where we fall in the great coffee debate, but we know for sure that we love the warm beverage, and think that if we enjoy it as responsibly as possible (sipping the organic fair-trade stuff from a reusable mug and using the grounds for a higher purpose, for instance), it fits into our eco-friendly lifestyle.

Now we want to hear from you... What's your verdict on the world's favorite caffeinated beverage?

(Image: Flickr member jRa7 licensed under Creative Commons.)

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