A cup of specialty coffee is at the heart of the principle of sustainable development
When we drink a cup of delicious coffee, we may think about its price. Sometimes we find it high, sometimes – low, sometimes reasonable or else said, equal to the taste in the cup. In our blog, we keep telling you what happens before coffee reaches your cup so that you gain a more in-depth understanding of how and how much you contribute to the social well-being of hundreds of humble farmers around the world that work hard year after year, and they tackle challenges of all kinds, some of which you don’t even suspect exist. When you choose any coffee from our catalog, you contribute to the sustainable development of the specialty coffee sector.
Sustainable development and specialty coffee
What exactly do we understand as sustainable development in the context of the specialty coffee sector? It means coffee farmers use natural resources in a way that they remain fertile and at the same time are preserved for future generations.
It means that the money invested in growing specialty coffee will have a return that not only feeds the farm owners and all permanent or seasonal workers, but also is sufficient to cover all the basic costs, all the costs for renovation and expansion of the farm – eg. buying more land for cultivation and / or new processing machines, will be enough also for additional training for workers to improve production practices, will cover their health insurance, pay wages that are sufficient to secure their own housing and education of their children. With the latter, the sector also fights child labor.
In order for this to happen, a partnership is needed among absolutely everybody of the players in the chain – individual farms, resellers, exporters, the coffee industry in general and its relationship with other industries and on a national level – governments.
A cup of specialty coffee is at the heart of the sustainable development principle
The specialty coffee industry is founded on the principle of the sustainable development. It was born because people were and still are looking for better quality coffee, and it actually exists. The mere fact that global consumption has increased to 10% in two decades, according to The International Trade Center‘s Coffee Guide, means that the money and effort put into it is paying off. But not immediately! It takes 5 years for a coffee bush from planting on to begin to bear fruit for your cup of coffee. And constant and varied efforts to continue this over time.
You can’t earn a year’s wage for a work in a single day especially in the world of specialty coffee, where what farmers do every day influences the end result – it can have a positive or negative effect on the harvest at any time. Sometimes the factors are human, sometimes natural.
The specialty coffee industry aims at sustainability as it feeds not just the families that produce coffee – because this sector is dominated not by family farms, but by entire communities. Its purpose is not to exploit the land aggressively for a fast profit and when it consumes the soil’s nutrients, to move to another location or to shut down production – quite the opposite.
Our planet suffers from global warming, disturbed biodiversity, and in many coffee producing countries the percentage of people living in extreme poverty is high. The gradual resolution of those problems requires a shift towards sustainability in development that provides long-term solutions to economic, natural and social problems.
Specialty coffee meets today’s needs without compromising life for future generations. The coffee industry as a whole has a negative impact on biodiversity. But specialty coffee is grown among other crops – it is best grown in the shade of different trees, and mixing different crops in one place is more beneficial to the flora and fauna.
For sustainable production, it is necessary to actively use various organic farming techniques, including composting of organic materials, mulching the soil under the trees with organic materials, use of biological pesticide control, and investment in the light regulation.
Economic sustainable development = social sustainable development
The coffee market is unpredictable and as a result, coffee producers are very vulnerable. Economic sustainable development directly improves the social development of the community. The varying coffee price affects access to education, housing, food, health care and other basic needs. The geographical isolation of many farmers automatically raises prices for everything from transporting coffee to buying the tools they need to work.
Let us not forget gender inequality in the specialty coffee industry. There have been more and more organizations fighting against it in the producer countries in the recent years. Only 10% of the women employed in the coffee industry are land or farm owners, and the largest part is still seasonal field workers. Also, as in many other spheres of life, women still have a much longer working day because they care for the household and the children after they get home.
What are the farms’ characteristics that have adopted sustainable development and that we work with?
As we have already mentioned, most of the specialty coffee farms are family owned, with some having over 100 years of coffee growing experience. Some are the sole reason for the emergence of towns around them because they have offered work to the local community. At the moment, all the farms we offer coffee from are family owned, even in the cooperatives of small producers in Ethiopia or Colombia.
Specialty coffee farms require producers to be more careful during harvest and pick only the ripe coffee cherries. A large number of farms have held various seminars and trainings to further develop growing coffee skills and coffee expertise for small producers so that they have a consistently better harvest.
The farms we work with grow different types of crops, with coffee being one of them. They take into account the cultivation of coffee with the surrounding flora and fauna and rely mainly on natural sources for irrigation and fertilization.
Guatemala, for example, has 170,000 coffee producers and only 20 exporters. And they do all the export. But work directly with all producers and we do not look for resellers – in any of the countries that we buy coffee from.
It is of utmost importance for the farms we work with to support their local community – the welfare of their workers (peasant women and men) is the main reason why they try to the extent possible support. They try to address most of the needs of their families such as provide health care, infrastructure, school supplies for their children, deliver food, clothes, toys for the children.
In some farms, they have built houses for their permanent workers. In other, they give women permanent work throughout the year and not only during harvest. And in some, men and women are paid equally.
Some of the farms develop ecotourism by offering to enthusiastic coffee lovers to visit them and appreciate not only the well-preserved nature but also to learn more about how to grow and process coffee, by visiting the farms’ labs.
For all the farms we work with is important to have a close relationship with their roasters. Before we entered in partnership with some of them, they visited us in Bulgaria and saw how we take care of our coffees before we serve them to Bulgarian coffee lovers got to know our philosophy of life.
How does DABOV Specialty Coffee support sustainable development
The most important thing for us at DABOV Specialty Coffee is good partnership at all levels. We select the farmers we work with the idea to establish lasting relationships with them. Those of you who have enjoyed our coffees for years have certainly noticed how many long-lasting partnerships we have built and how many coffees from the same farms we have offered you.
We import our coffees directly from the producer. We select coffee plantations that care for the quality of the green bean and have a traceable and guaranteed origin. We never bargain for the price – thus we show our respect for our partners’ hard work.
We are looking for high quality coffee beans and winners in prestigious competitions such as Cup Of Excellence, Best Of Panama, etc. That is why we are also members of Alliance for Coffee Excellence and Specialty Coffee Association, which gives us the opportunity to gain experience and knowledge in the vast coffee world. And then to share this knowledge with you at our DABOV Specialty Coffee Academy.
We roast our coffee on demand, which means keeping the coffee’s freshness and taste. We pack the coffee up to three hours after roasting it in packs with one-way valves. Our 200, 8g packs are suitable for one week average consumption per person. We work with two of the best coffee roasters – Probat, and more recently Loring, which has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions from the industry roasters.