Sustainability in Coffee

Sustainable Peet's
A glimpse at Sustainable Peet’s, my beans, and my method of brewing.

Barbara Kingsolver talked about her coffee methods in Small Wonder. She and her husband indulge in this one non-local treat, but source their beans from a well-managed farm that focuses on shade grown beans. Prior to reading that some years ago, I never considered the sustainable factor of coffee.

I have been buying my beans from Peet’s Coffee & Tea for about 10 years now. I will switch off between Peet’s, Cafe Mam (a roaster in Eugene, Oregon), Stumptown (another local roaster), and local coffee shops (The Arbor Lodge) that also focus on locally roasted coffee (Coava Coffee).

I don’t know the particulars from each, but common themes include well-managed forests, fair wages, and farmer controlled prices. This isn’t necessarily found in all roasters – just themes I look for and note when I can find it.

My favorite, by far, though, is Peet’s. I enjoy the experience of walking into the store. I have a friend who has worked their longer than I’ve been choosing their beans. And, the coffee is fantastic. I started with their signature blends (Major Dickinson and Arabian Mocha Java), but as I tried more coffees my preferences have tightened to specific origins: Africa and the Americas. A kind barista suggested I have a sophisticated palette, yesterday, when I thanked him for giving me a chance to review the offerings.

I love my smooth, bold flavors that wake your mouth up with every sip. I love making the boldness creamy with half-and-half. I don’t mind drinking it black. I love the smell. I love the concept.

When I consider that I started drinking Folder’s Crystals, based on what my mother was drinking at the time, my indulgence has certainly turned into an investment. I sometimes feel guilty about that – comparing what we indulge in today versus other times – thinking that I’m bathing too much in a lap of luxury. But, my coffee is like other food. I want to make sure we are putting good quality into our bodies and the people who work really hard to get this product to us are paid and treated fairly.

So, I was thrilled, yesterday, when I walked into the store and saw the stand advertising their Panama Reserve. The storyboard explained that the family who produced these beans are dedicated to preserving the Rain Forests of Panama. By securing ownership of the land that buffers the rainforest, they protect the sensitive habitat there.

I continued walking around the counter to collect my drinks (one for me and one for Levi), and was pleased to see a resurrected brochure describing the Sustainability Initiatives Peet’s enacts. A recent initiative is ensuring their roasting is done in a Gold LEED certified building. One of the reasons I started drinking the coffee is their direct relationships with their farmers. And, I was surprised to learn about their targeted philanthropy that focuses on education, kids, and the grounds around coffee.

It oft surprises me the push back sustainability gets, because it’s not supposed to be something that takes away, in the end. What sustainability is trying to make sure is that we all have enough for us and for our children and for our children’s children. In this one brochure Peet’s captured that sentiment: take care of the families that produce the product, make a great product, and take care of the land that is important to the people and the product. Et, voilĂ , a sustainability plan that makes sense is born.

Here’s to your sustainable morning cup.