blog action day: climate change — taking action against climate change and getting a buzz doing it

so i love it when i sign up for these “everyone blog about such-and-such topic” deals and i have no idea what to write about.  ha.  this post is for blog action day, a thing i didn’t know anything about until i saw someone’s badge.  i’m all for these “get together and blog on a particular subject” things, and this project seems pretty cool, so check them out.  this year’s topic is: climate change.

actually, the problem with talking about climate change isn’t that i don’t know what to talk about, it’s how to choose my topic.  cuz this is a topic that i already think about.  for one, it’s my goal (our goal, really), to eventually be using 100% clean energy for our business operations at arcane palette (see: our commitment to being green).  i’m constantly on the lookout for good web hosts that use clean alternatives to power their data centers — real alternatives, not just carbon offsets.

but that’s not what i’m going to write about.  no, i’m going to write about something much less geeky (but nonetheless nerdy).  i want to write about coffee.

how can you change the world by drinking coffee?  i’ll tell you.

here’s the deal with coffee: your typical, mass-produced coffee manufacturers go to some south american country, level a whole crop of land, and plant coffee beans.  this creates consistency on a large scale by using huge equipment to harvest the crops.  companies hire laborers on the cheap, who aren’t trained to pick out quality beans for the coffee, just quantity, and as quickly as possible.  this is where you get, say, Folgers.

there are better alternatives.  no, i’m not going to say go organic, because you can have an organic coffee plantation and still be leveling the land required to farm it.  and as we all know, when you level a bunch of land — often tearing down native trees and rainforest, it affects the ecosystem.  animals are evicted from their homes, and the less trees we have, the less they are able to produce oxygen which we all need to, you know, breathe.  organic just refers to how the plants are grown and maintained, it says nothing about the environment in which they are planted, and in this case, it matters.

shade-grown coffee is a better alternative.

most of what i know about coffee growing and shade-grown coffee, i learned from my friends at caffe ibis, a small, local coffee roaster in logan, utah.  i visited them about a year ago with a couple of my friends from the Park City WF specialty department, and they told us about the coffee plantations they get their beans from.  Shade-grown is sort of a misnomer.  when you hear “shade-grown” you think of artificially planted trees or maybe some kind of big structure creating shade.  or maybe you don’t think that, but that’s what i think.  in reality, shade-grown means that they don’t do anything to the land.  no leveling.  no huge crops of identical plants.  no large equipment.  no destroying the rainforest for our morning beverage.  instead, the coffee is grown in its’ natural habitat, in lush rainforest.  the moist soil and shade from the trees, and the ecosystem of plants and animals going through their normal cycles, all create an ideal environment to grow coffee.  those huge plantations in full sun are ideal environments to grow bad coffee.  coffee naturally grows in shade, not sun, and the only reason companies like Folgers, and even Starbucks, use the huge plantations is because it’s cheaper and you can use the huge mechanical equipment to harvest the crops.  shade-grown coffee requires more manual labor.  each bean is hand-picked, which means there is more quality assurance that each bean is actually ready for picking.  caffe ibis takes pride in their beans, in the fact that a bag of their coffee has no fragments or beans unfit for roasting.

and since you don’t need to tear down the natural rainforest to grow shade-grown coffee — in fact, it’s the best location to grow coffee –shade-grown coffee is actually good for the environment.  and the birds, too.  something i haven’t mentioned yet is that many of ibis’ shade-grown coffee beans are smithsonian certified.  that means the smithsonian institute (you know, the one that studies birds) comes out and inspects the plantation, and certifies it as being bird-friendly.  not only are we not harming the environment by growing beans in shade, but we’re actually putting a value on leaving the rainforest intact, because it’s the ideal environment to grow coffee (and probably other stuff, too, for that matter).  see how i brought it all back to the environment?

caffe ibis is just one of a whole host of coffee roasters that feature shade-grown coffee, but they have been a leader in the industry for a long time, and are one of the few roasters that “triple certify” their beans (bird friendly, organic, fair trade).  that’s no small feat considering certifications are long, arduous processes that require, as much as anything else, the availability of trained certification experts in the area to conduct the evaluation.  ibis is awesome, and i don’t think so just because i have a thing for egyptian mythology (although, there’s that, too).  they’re great people with a passion for great coffee, and are real leaders in the industry.  and once you try their coffee, i promise you, you’ll never, ever go back to Peets, and may swear off Starbucks as well.

buy some ibis coffee now.  i like highland sumatra.

learn more about shade-grown coffee:

caffe ibis: smithsonian certified shade grown coffee
what is shade grown coffee?
eartheasy: shade grown coffee
shade-grown coffee plantations

this blog post was written as part of blog action day.