It is little known that growing coffee has become a primary threat to national parks and cloud forests across Central America. The most commonly adopted process of creating coffee plantations requires the cultivation of forest land which firstly means clearing woodlands to make way for the coffee crop, and secondly, consuming thousands of acres of forest to provide fuel to dry the coffee harvest.
This contributes directly to the destruction of the rainforest, local biodiversity and reservoirs of plant life critical to reducing global climate change. The current rate of deforestation due to the commercial cultivation of coffee is estimated to be roughly 3cm2 of rainforest being destroyed for every cup of coffee consumed. Drying coffee with conventional wood-burning dryers has been declared an environmental emergency by the Costa Rican Coffee Institute since 2013.
Enter the age of environmentally friendly coffee!
Through the use of technology, clean energy sources, women's empowerment and education and employment of local youth, new methodologies have emerged to nearly eliminate the negative impacts of growing coffee:
Solar thermal arrays are used to power commercial coffee dryers to dry coffee without the use of wood burning.
Coffee husks are made into pellet fuel to provide a renewable energy source in addition to solar energy.
The 'Integrated Open Canopy' (IOC) method has been developed by the Mesoamerican Development Institute which is a bio-diversity friendly agroforestry system which allows coffee to be grown in and amongst the natural cloud forest. This is shown to actually increase yields and quality of the coffee beans. The IOC method also supports more migratory birds than other methods of coffee production and greatly enhances hydrologic conditions for the environment.
Partnerships with key women in local communities and education programs for local youths is helping to internalise the new methodologies and technologies to change the way coffee is grown in the region, and resulting in enhanced opportunities for locals.
All of these activities prove that the philosophy of taking care of people and the environment produces a better quality coffee, which is where everyone wins.
At Don Maslow Coffee, we intend to promote these innovative and sustainable practices to prove that this business model can work, and in fact is what our customers want. An environmentally friendly coffee is a better coffee in every sense.