The coffee industry often catches heat when it comes to sustainable and ethical practices. Coffee farmers - that tend to be in developing countries - don't ever see the type of profits that large firms reap from using their crop, growing coffee contributes to deforestation and even threatens biodiversity in some cases.
With all that said, there has been an effort to alleviate these issues, using a fair trade labels for example.
Here are seven times that the coffee industry has tried to give back to a community!
1. Grounds for Health
Grounds for Health was founded by the president of a U.S. coffee company. He was visiting coffee cooperatives in Mexico and learned about cervical cancer rates there, which were some of the highest in the world.
He and a friend set out to do something about it and to date, Grounds for Health has treated 5,023 women and screened 70,285.
2. The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at the Bogawantalawa Tea Estate
The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf buys all their teas from this estate in Sri Lanka has sponsored the creation of a community center and education facility for Bogawantalawa workers and their families. Some of their profits from the tea from Bogawantalawa in particular also funds things like a library and a daycare center for the estate workers’ children.
3. Tim Horton's Smile Cookie
Tim Horton's supports local community initiatives, through purchases of their chocolate chunk smile cookie. It raises funds for local charities across Canada and the US.
4. Starbuck's sourcing practices
Starbucks is pretty transparent about where and how they source their coffee, which is a good shift for the industry in general. They use responsible purchasing practices, economic, social and environmental standards, community development programs and more.
5. Dunkin' brands sustainable packaging
Dunkin' brands i.e. Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins have a variety of sustainable packaging initiatives like getting more environmentally-friendly pink spoon alternatives, expanding an in-store foam cup recycling program, and exploring a hot reusable mug program.
6. Coffee Vet's crowdfunding initiative
The veteran-owned roastery Coffee Vets launched “22 Heroes to Zero” in 2016. This campaign raises funds to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in military veterans.
7. The Chain Collaborative
The Chain Collaborative was founded to liaison between farmers, cooperatives, nonprofits, other coffee origin-focused organizations and people working stateside in the specialty coffee industry. They aim to connect, for example, coffee growing communities with the industry in a way that is beneficial to both parties.
While this list is congratulatory, it's not just a pat on the back for large coffee firms. There are still relatively few community initiatives compared to the number of firms and even the grief that they are causing. This should serve as encouragement for firms to do more: the world watches and appreciates their corporate social responsibility initiatives. The more, the better!