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The Truth About Sustainable Coffee Farming

The word sustainable gets thrown around a lot today around the world, and the coffee industry is no exception. Coffee producers are more hyper-aware than ever of the economic and environmental impact of coffee production. But what does sustainability in the coffee industry really mean? And what does it look like in practice? At Nomi Brew, we strongly believe it starts with the farmers. But before we get into that, here’s a little history for you.

The History of Sustainable Coffee

Let’s take a step back—way back—to the 1990s. That’s right about the time when coffee prices plunged. Growers around the world were hit hard. This prompted organizations like the Consumer Choice Council (CCC) to look into the economic and social problems surrounding coffee origins. And that’s when we get the first mention of the term “sustainable coffee.”

Today, part of the goal of sustainable coffee farming is to minimize pollution and focus on using renewable resources to help protect the environment. This includes things like using less water and sustainable agriculture. You’ve also probably seen or heard about coffee labels like Fair Trade, Organic, and Rainforest Alliances in conjunction with sustainable coffee. But sustainability in the coffee industry should also focus on providing things like medical care, decent wages, and good working conditions for farmers.

Nomi Brew - Specialty Coffee Online from Special Farmers Upline. Fine Coffee Processing at its Finest.Why True Coffee Sustainability Starts With Fair Wages For Farmers

You may be shocked to learn that very little of the money you spend on coffee actually goes to the hardworking farmers who grow and harvest the beans that make it into your morning cup of Joe. On top of this, rising concerns about climate change affect how farmers grow their crops, meaning they’re left with both the financial and the environmental burden resting squarely on their shoulders. If sustainable coffee farming is the answer to fixing climate concerns, first we must be sure to take care of the farmers themselves.

By producing sustainable coffee, growers can charge a premium for their beans. But, this doesn’t always equal profitability for farmers. That’s because coffee farmers are currently paid based on a commodity system known as the New York C Price, which can go up and down like the stock market. The amount farmers get paid fluctuates depending on the daily C Price. Over the last few years, the C price for coffee has been more or less equal to the cost of production for growers, resulting in little to no profit for farmers.

The good news for farmers is that coffee companies, like Nomi, who work directly with farmers, don’t have to use C pricing to pay their producers. How coffee companies operate in the coffee trading business truly can and does make a difference. True coffee sustainability means helping farmers maintain their quality of life in addition to improving environmental sustainability. At Nomi, we believe that starts with paying a fair living wage to farmers. That’s why we approach our coffee producers as true partners. And we’re committed to creating holistic and sustainable transformation in countries where we source our beans. That starts with utilizing the Sustainable Coffee Buyers Guide (SCBG), which includes a free online calculator focused on what’s known as the “farmgate price” — what the farmers actually get paid — and the true economic impact that price will have on local producers.

The Future Of Coffee Sustainability

Tackling the living wage issue may be the best path forward to improving farmer livelihoods. Fair wages for farmers can create the stability needed for the coffee industry to thrive for years to come. Of course, being sustainable isn’t easy. And it takes everyone from the growers, to the roasters, to the consumers to do their part.

As a consumer, you can help ensure the future of the coffee industry by buying coffee from roasters and companies that make sustainable coffee production a part of their mission. Rather than focusing on the labels of “organic” or “fair-trade,” this means searching for coffee roasters, like Nomi, who make living income a core part of their mission. The welfare of farmers is integral to making everyone involved with Nomi Brew happy, including you. Because when you buy and drink our coffee, you’ll know you’re a part of doing good in the world.

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