Sustainable Coffee to Get On Your Next Grocery Run

environmental impacts food & beverage lifestyle social impacts sustainable living Jul 24, 2023

If you’re anything like us, then you probably can’t start your morning without a cup of coffee. We’re not coffee experts and we couldn’t tell you all the technical ins and outs of what makes a particular coffee better than the rest, but we can help you find preferred coffee options to reduce your impact at home or the office. So, let’s get into it!

Coffee has been one of the hardest-hit industries affected by climate change, with a number of farms and farming communities at risk of losing their livelihoods or only source of income. While many of us working in the apparel industry won’t be able to drive systems change in the agricultural sector outside of how cotton is farmed, we can vote with our dollar.

So, how can you be sure the coffee you’re about to buy is a preferred option? No surprise - you’re going to look for certifications!

Three of the gold-standard certifications to be on the lookout for are Rainforest Alliance certified, Fair Trade certified and certified Organic. Let’s take a quick peek at why each of these is important and how they are helping reduce environmental or social impacts. 

Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping restore forests around the world and empowering the communities that are reliant on these ecosystems. Currently, they have four issues they are tackling: climate, forests, human rights, and livelihoods, each with different impact areas that require dedicated resources to drive systemic change. By buying products with the Rainforest Alliance seal, you’re helping to contribute to that change.

Fair Trade is another nonprofit organization with a broader focus on communities around the world. When a company meets the Fair Trade standards, they can start selling products with the Fair Trade label. As consumers buy the certified products, companies pay out a Fair Trade premium which is returned to the producers of the product (such as coffee farmers!). From there, the community votes on how they would like to spend the money generated from the premium which can go to building schools, developing healthcare centers, or countless other employee/community wellness programs.

Lastly, Organic certification is one of the most readily available product categories on the market. The certifying body will depend on where you are in the world, but in the United States, the US Department of Agriculture is responsible for certifying food and beverage to USDA Organic standards. Without using pesticides and herbicides, organically grown foods ensure that soil health is protected, farm workers are safe from hazardous chemicals, and waterways are protected from hazardous chemicals entering the ecosystem.

We’ve got the basics covered, but how can you tell if certified coffee is worth it? We’ve been there before - strolling down the coffee aisle at the store and seeing all the certified products but one bag costs $17! 

Buying preferred coffee doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. We’ve done some research (and a few taste tests) to find some of the best, relatively affordable certified coffees on the market.

365 Pacific Rim Organic Dark Roast Coffee

If you live near a Whole Foods or have an Amazon account, try the Pacific Rim ground dark roast coffee. At $13 for a 24-ounce bag, this bag of beans is a steal compared to others on the market. 

Besides the great price point, it has also gained Fair Trade certification, so you can rest easy knowing you’re saving a few dollars while still supporting communities around the world. We love that even though this is a dark roast, it doesn’t have the bitter taste that typically comes with darker roasts.

If you like your coffee extra strong, we have an option for that too!

Allegro Organic Sierra Espresso

Also sold at Amazon and Whole Foods, Allegro provides flavorful coffee at fair prices. If you’re an espresso fan, you can grab this blend for about $12 and still feel good about your purchasing decision.

Organic and Rainforest Alliance certified, the Sierra Espresso is a go-to when you’re running on only a few hours of sleep. Since it’s an espresso, it pairs perfectly with some steamed milk (or non-dairy alternative) and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

While Allegro and 365 are both sold through Amazon, we understand that some of you may be trying to avoid shopping with Amazon. Fear not - we still have a few options for you to choose from!

Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Sumatra Whole Bean Coffee

Trader Joe’s is an uber-popular destination for shoppers who want quality products at an affordable price and their Sumatra Coffee does not disappoint. 

For a 13-ounce bag of whole beans, you can get some of the most flavorful beans for only $8.99. Similarly to the 365 beans, the Trader Joe’s beans are certified Organic and Fair Trade but these beans have a slightly more robust taste, so if you’re a fan of dark coffee, this one’s for you!

Okay, we’ll admit that we haven’t tried the last blend on our list, but we’ve been dying to get our hands on it!

GoodSam Everyday Coffee

You may have seen us reference GoodSam in the past for their variety of snacks and other goodies, but we can’t wait to try their coffee. Offered in a 32-ounce bag, the Everyday Coffee is a medium roast Colombian coffee offered for $24.99. While this blend comes with a higher price tag, we think this is a pretty good “bang for your buck” deal.

Not only is it certified Organic, GoodSam’s products support regenerative agriculture worldwide. Interestingly, they take a different approach to their supply network. Instead of participating in the Fair Trade system, GoodSam has gone the direct trade approach. Direct trade allows companies to work directly with farmers, which cuts out middlemen and allows the farmers to get a larger cut of the revenue generated from sales. 

For all the lighter to medium roast lovers out there, the Everyday Coffee may be the perfect addition to your morning routine!

Those were just a few of our favorite sustainable coffee picks of 2023 (so far!), but there are countless other preferred options out there. Next time you need to pick up a bag of coffee, be on the lookout for some of the key labels and certifications. You have the power to drive change through your purchases - remember to vote with your dollar!

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