October is Fair Trade month, which means it’s the perfect month for us to get moving on a change we’ve long hoped to make in our office kitchen – buying better coffee.
Our decision to buy better coffee was spearheaded by one of our Life Cycle Assessment specialists, who has spent the better part of the past month researching coffee certifications. In addition to Fair Trade, we took a look at the Rainforest Alliance certification, Bird-Friendly certification, Utz certification, 4C Association, USDA Organic standard, and Starbucks’ CAFE practices. These certifications identify coffees that are produced in an environmentally-conscious and/or socially-responsible manner, so we were eager to use them to find out whether the coffee we had been brewing was the best of the bunch. We found that we could be doing a lot better with our coffee purchase, which led to the more contentious process of convincing the coffee drinkers to accept a new type of brew.
After a tester week with a higher rated coffee, we received blessing from the office coffee drinkers to switch our coffee brand. To our pleasant surprise, this switch isn’t going to cost more, as our new coffee costs the same as our old coffee. The issues of taste, efficacy and cost, which most of us run up against when trying to do the right thing, were fortunately not deal breakers for our office. It was very clear, though, that when picking a product (whether it’s a cup of joe, a shampoo, or a cereal) the decision isn’t only based on health, environmental, and social impact. Perhaps the more important lesson here is that only by prioritizing these issues highly enough will you be willing to go through the effort of changing habits.
By the way, if you’re wondering whether you’ll be able to make a similar change in your home or office kitchen, worry no more. GoodGuide’s coffee ratings will be launched later this fall!