Why the planet is being destroyed for coffee growing

coffee-plantationCoffee has become a part of many people’s daily routine.  The aroma and taste in the moment of the first sip is its own kind of experience, one which countless people can’t or don’t want to do without.  While the west has had a love affair with coffee (see AllGreatCoffee) for quite some time, few people who drink coffee know about its production outside of it coming from warmer and more tropical climates.  Safely removed from its production, few coffee drinkers realise just how much damage is being done to the environment thanks to the growth of coffee beans.  Lets take a moment to review the frightening possibility of why the planet is being destroyed for coffee growers.

The Costs Of A Cup Of Coffee

Every day, nearly 70 million cups of coffee are consumed.  The coffee you consume comes from a limited number of coffee producers, including Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Columbia.  Coffee can be produced in one of two ways.  The first kind is canopy coffee.  This is coffee in how it is traditionally grown, under the canopy of larger trees.  This version of coffee production ensures that the soil stays relatively healthy and in place, reducing erosion.  The main problem with this form of coffee production is that few places that produce coffee for outside markets use this technique.

The second form of coffee production is called sun grown coffee.  In this case, coffee is grown on plantations where chemical fertilizers are used to try and keep the soil productive.  While creating a lot of problems like erosion, these plantations often involve destroying natural habitats to satisfy an ever-increasing demand.  When the land is no longer fertile, growers move on, destroying more wilderness to continue growing.  Slowly and surely, land is being taken away and used to create coffee, only to be left relatively arid and lifeless.

The Issue With Fair-Trade Coffee

Fair-Trade coffee is an excellent system.  It ensure that individuals are paid a fair amount for the coffee they grow, limiting the potential for exploitation of workers on large scale plantations.  However, fair-trade does not get into the management of the land or ecological destruction that is occurring because of coffee growing.  As a result, additional measures are required in order to address this growing problem.

The Question Of Why

Simply put, the planet is being destroyed for coffee growers because there is an incredible market for coffee beans.  We, along with the people around us, continue to purchase coffee, raising the prices and increasing the demand.  One of the best ways to stop this ecological harm is to change how we consume coffee, and begin pushing towards better growth methods.  The question we should be considering is whether or not we want to live with more expensive coffee.  Even if it saves the environment, it may be a hard sell for some.

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