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What makes coffee sustainable?

August 2, 2016

Sustainability is a buzzword in business at all levels these days.  It applies when we’re talking about the environment, our ethical credentials, and also applies when thinking about the long term future of our brands.


The International Coffee Organisation for example, proposes measures in areas such as quality, promotion and diversification to maintain balance in the world coffee market.


Environmental sustainability


Coffee sustainability when it comes to the environment has no clear definition – as is the case in most areas of industry.  So it lies with us as individuals at each level of the industry to do our bit.  It’s up to us to be informed, do our own research and be transparent in our supply lines to have confidence in our products.


Broadly, sustainable coffee is coffee grown in a manner that is kind to the environment and its people.  A sustainable farm, for example, seeks to use renewable resources and minimize pollution where possible. It takes steps to care for the environment, and in turn cares for its employees.


However, one International Coffee Agreement 2007 objective is to encourage Members to develop a sustainable coffee sector in economic, social and environmental terms. According to the International Coffee Organisation, coffee is perceived to have a largely positive environmental impact. As an evergreen shrub, it’s a contributor to carbon sequestration. Carbon Sequestration is a process that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and holds it in solid or liquid form. Coffee, in its plant form is also effective in stabilizing soils and preserving the original bio-diversity of planted areas.


Still, it is in the production and processing we need to continue to percolate the positive vibes down to the consumer. For instance using a brewer, like the Seraphim, which unlike big bulk brewers eliminates the majority of waste. Meaning you will not throw coffee out unnecessarily.


Social sustainability


Social sustainability can mean more than one thing. Traditionally, it is about where the coffee source, fair processes and structures, and a safe, supportive and positive working environment.

UK based social enterprise Social Life however, extends the definition, saying it is:

“a process for creating sustainable, successful places that promote wellbeing, by understanding what people need from the places they live and work.”

This is an interesting concept, extending into the coffee shops and working environments espresso machines and products find their way into. It also has an impact on the consumer, already a key element, in the social nature of this unique product.

For example, when speaking to our technician, Matt recently about the benefits of the Curtis Seraphim, he highlighted the aesthetic design and user-friendly functionality. Both add pleasure to using it, but also allow the barista’s talents to stand out in an otherwise commercial environment. The barista and consumer both can be assured of a consistent, high quality outcome courtesy of a true pre-infusion. Without anxiety or time pressure because the product is meeting the needs of a contemporary society.


Economic sustainability


This is, quite literally the bottom line for all businesses.  For all the bells and whistles, a machine or business may have, economic sustainability is a hard line to walk.  From staff turnover, which has a huge bearing on the coffee industry, to training, waste, quality assurance, and production levels. There’s increasing demand to deliver high quality coffee at the speed of Starbucks.

It can leave a slightly bitter taste, but can also be an opportunity to really look for the right tools. The Seraphim can produce 10 gallons of hot water per hour (or 126.6 mugs of coffee).  It has an icon-driven, intuitive G4 touch screen and requires minimal training, helpful if you have high staff turnover.  However, it does require knowledge of coffee to get the most from it. Thus ensuring that sense of craft-driven quality, the Holy Grail of brewers for sustainable coffee business.

To find out more, speak to a member of the Curtis UK team.

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