Sustainable Coffee and Tea Brands

Never worry again about where your favorite drink is coming from when you know about these practices and brands.

Buying products you love from companies you love makes them taste even better.

When your favorite drink is coffee or tea, it is important to understand the importance of buying those products from companies that value farmers and the environment. That’s why we’re going to be talking about:

  • What does sustainable mean?
  • How coffee can be sustainable.
  • How tea can be sustainable.
  • Sustainable coffee brands.
  • Sustainable tea brands.

What Does Sustainable Mean?

Understanding what sustainability means gives you the foundation to look at brands from an important perspective.

a green dipped hand holds up a stem with leaves against a white background.
Buying sustainable coffee and tea brands allows you to feel good about your favorite drink.

Sustainability is a broad concept-- for the most part though, it entails environmental and ecological issues along with human rights. When it comes to a practice, or a brand, it is sustainable if it is beneficial to the environment, for people, communities, and can be practiced indefinitely without harm.

Sustainability stems from the word sustainable, which means something that is able to be sustained-- something that is able to be continued at a certain level over time. However, as we begin to see more environmental issues occur all over the world, sustainability has come to mean those processes and actions that allow humans to avoid losing natural resources-- there is a search for an ecological balance that doesn’t allow the quality of life of our modern societies to diminish.

Brands that label themselves as sustainable have developed a business that takes into consideration the natural environment and the community in order to produce products in such a way that does not harm the environment or people. You can learn more about coffee here

How Can Coffee Be Sustainable?

Coffee is one of the leading drinks around the globe-- so what would make them sustainable?

A coffee mug containing hot, dark coffee sits on a white table.
Because of coffee’s popularity around the world it’s important for the process to be grounded in sustainable practices.

Now that we have an understanding of what makes a brand sustainable, let’s understand why it's important for coffee to be sustainable.

First, because sustainability concerns itself with human rights issues, it only makes sense for there to be a high consideration for those who work for a certain brand. That’s why when we look at sustainable products we must also look at if the brand has fair-trade certifications.

Looking at the coffee industry in particular, when a brand is fair-trade that means the farmer who grows the coffee receives a fair price for their product while the communities and the environment benefit.

When a farmer receives a fair price for their harvest it fosters the foundation for farmers to invest in their families health care and education, while also giving them the ability to reinvest in good environmental practices. It’s an empowering model that lifts the family from poverty through trade-- this allows for a more equitable and sustainable model of trade that benefits all sides. The farmer and the local community is an important aspect to consider while looking at sustainable brands.  

Coffee production is an intensive process. Coffee trees grow for four to seven years before they even have their first harvest-- then they can produce fruit for up to twenty-five years. After the fruit has been harvested by machine or by hand, the outer layer of the fruit is removed to reveal the inner green bean that is our coffee bean. There are two ways to do this process-- the traditional way would be leaving the fruit out to dry in the sun or using a machine and water. The beans then go through their cleaning process and are shipped around the world where they go through another process that roasts and packages them for their final destination.

This process is one that uses a lot of resources and energy, something that could lead to issues with sustainability. To produce one 125 milliliter cup of coffee is 140 liters of water-- or in other words, more than two eight-minute showers.

Following fair-trade practices, coffee production can be made more sustainable by developing practices that do not deplete resources so quickly. Better crop-management, water use, the use of pesticides on crops, finding more ways to produce fertilizer by composting coffee bean waste, and using coffee hulls as fuel are all great examples of practices that can be adopted.

How Tea Can Be Sustainable?

Following coffee as one of the most popular drinks in the world, let's look at how tea can be sustainable.

Tea is grown in over 45 countries around the world. India and China produce the most, while Sri Lanka and Kenya are quickly catching up in order to meet the global demand. Despite tea being enjoyed by so many, little is being done about the lack of sustainable practices by tea producing companies. Tea production holds two main issues-- an incredibly large amount of land is needed in order to grow tea, and the intensive labor that is needed to harvest is no help either.

While human rights violations are being reported all over, the environment struggles under the weight of deforestation and contamination.

Workers are under extreme conditions while harvesting tea. They are exposed to harsh elements and extremous labor while they are sometimes making less than one dollar a day. Paying workers less allows for a cheap work force that quickly produces products and keeps the prices low for the consumer.

Deforestation strips the land of its natural biodiversity to replace the land with tea plantations that do not harbor the same sort of diversity-- the great harm done to the area harms the natural plant and wildlife that occurs there.

Buying sustainable tea products ensures that you are supporting brands that care for the environment-- they focus on how they are impacting the land around them, while they also care for and acknowledge their workforce to create a system of growth that helps workers get out of poverty.

Sustainable Coffee Brands

Now that we know all about what makes a coffee brand sustainable, let's look at some brands that follow sustainable practices.

a spoon, coffee beans, and two hands holding a cup of coffee spell out "I love coffee".
Sustainable coffee brands are waiting for you to try them-- choose a Earth conscious coffee brand for your delicious brew.

  1. Equal Exchange- Equal Exchange and worker owned and fair-trade certified. The co-op has over 100 workers/owners-- each hold an equal share in the business, while voting rights are given to each member.
  2. Larry’s Coffee- Running on biofuels and rainwater, Larry’s Coffee is always exploring ways to improve. They explore sustainable packaging options while investing in renewable energy. The company has Fair Trade and B Corporation certifications which pairs nicely with their homey aesthetic that comforts you as you enjoy their delicious brews.
  3. Café Mam- Café Man is a Fair Trade and Organic company that works with cooperatives of native Mayan farmers that live in the highlands of Chiapas. Followers of Café Mam are die hard fans that swear by their quality and consistency. The brand is in tune with the message that coffee doesn’t need to be fancy, but can thrive off of a true passion for coffee that is being produced.
  4. Kickapoo Coffee- A Fair-Trade and Organic company, Kickapoo Coffee is known for their fair pricing and lasting relationships with their partners and growers. The company has cut out the middleman and communicates with growers directly. This allows for personal relationships and the opportunity for Kickapoo to visit growers to create a mutual benefit-- they want their farmers to be treated fairly while they get the best quality possible.
  5. Allegro Coffee- Allegro works hard to make sure farmers and workers are given fair pay and working conditions. They promote organic growing methods. This ensures there are not toxic chemicals being used throughout their growing process which follows their commitment to people and the planet.

Sustainable Tea Brands

Let's look at some sustainable tea brands that give you a clear conscience.

A hot cup of tea is placed against a white background and showcases half of a sliced lemon placed on top of the tea.
Never worry about where your tea is coming from again when you buy from sustainable tea brands.

  1. Numi- With a focus on serving people and the planet, Numi works alongside farmers and partners to create a sustainable tea experience. Grown without any GMO’s, Numi’s tea leaves are handpicked by farmers before they are placed into paper filter bags for maximum sustainability efforts. They’re a readily accessible brand, Numi is found from Walmart to Kroger and can also be picked up online.
  2. Bon Temps- Filled with an infectious energy, Bon Temps makes their tea bags from a non-GMO corn fiber while they never use any bleaches, pesticides, or artificial flavors. They invest $1,000 dollars in cash to a woman through their grant program to support dreams big and small.
  3. Guayaki- Guayaki does not specialize in black or green teas, but rather goes for Yerba Mate, a plant used to make medicine. Yerba Mate contains a chocolate-y flavor, has loads of health benefits, and gives off a caffeine energy that makes it a go to for many people. Their loose leaf tea is described as rich and balanced with a hint of hearthiness that is paired with a nice softness.
  4. Yogi- Yogi makes easily accessible teas that are organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified and have several programs that allow the brand to give back to the community. Their cartons are made from 100% recycled paper and their tea bags are compostable. With lots of different options to choose from Yogi will always have something for whatever you’re craving.
  5. The Art of Tea- importing high-quality organic teas, The Art of Tea has eco-friendly loose-leaf tea that range from green, black, herbal, yerba mate, and caffeine-free to suit your mood. With lots of different flavors like citrus, floral, refreshing, and fruity The Art of Tea is a great choice while you’re browsing your tea options.

There are lots of important things to consider as you buy your products. Consider buying sustainably to help foster development of business that care about sustainability-- and enjoy that beverage with a guilt-free conscience!

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