Deforestation in the coffee world. What is going on and what are we doing about it?


Recently there has been more attention in the media for a new aspect of sustainability. In addition to the traditional certificates and requirements, the topic of deforestation is now the order of the day.

The European Commission wants to counter deforestation and destruction of land with stricter environmental rules for the import of, among other things, soy, cocoa and coffee. Companies that place these products on the European market must guarantee that they are produced in a sustainable manner.

Read more here in a newspaper article by de Volkskant.

Because all the coffees we roast come from importing partners with whom we have very transparent and pleasant collaborations, I actually never doubted whether they also consider this subject of paramount importance.

But what they actually do or can guarantee about this is of course another question. Partly because I now received this specific question from a number of customers, I thought it was high time to process these answers in a blog.

I asked three of our important and wonderful partners what they can share about this.

People and nature central

Fortunately, overall it turned out that they consider this a super important subject when selecting green coffees. A first reaction from one of our partners:

“In addition to putting people at the center of our chain, it is incredibly important that we deal with the world in a sustainable way, in order to be able to continue working with coffee for future generations! ”.

Not very current in specialty coffee world

Another partner of ours indicates that it is a very good regulation from the EU, but that this is not very current in the specialty coffee world in which they are active.

Often areas of land used for coffee production have been dedicated to coffee production for decades and sometimes even centuries. It therefore hardly ever happens with the (producing) partners ( read: coffee farmers ) with whom this (importing) partner works, that new land is deforested for coffee production.

But of course it can always be better! A number of concrete projects in which this takes shape:

Agroforestry projects:

We come across this most often when we ask our partners the above question. Very simply, this means that forest and coffee are combined, with all kinds of beautiful effects.

Agroforestry[ 1 ] systems are systems in which coffee plants are combined with shade trees, creating a microclimate in the plantation.

These microclimates ensure increased CO2 storage, more biodiversity, and a higher nutrient cycle. This in turn results in lower temperatures and a higher moisture balance in the soil.

    • For our partner for Costa Rican coffees, this has the positive advantage that the plants thrive better during the extremely dry season and the extremely wet season. In addition, it also helps to retain more nutrients in the soil. Win win for a coffee farmer and the world!

    • At another partner, several local, but similar projects have been set up that pursue the same goal. For example , here you can read a nice piece about a food forest in Rwanda.

    • One of our partners has also written an interesting blog about making Agroforestry more mainstream . Read more about this topic here .

buffer zones

This relates to the Colombian coffee that we offer. In that region, the National Park (Parques Nacionales) has created a buffer zone for nature reconstruction.

In this buffer zone are some coffee plots of coffee farmers from the region. What happens here is that the National Park, the cooperative of farmers from the region and another local environmental organization work together con-ti-nu to maintain that buffer zone and prevent conflicts between coffee production and the pure nature of the region.

Prevention is ultimately better than cure, of course.

A piggy bank for green projects:

This is specifically at one of our partners where approximately 50% of our coffee currently comes from. Their own explanation on this:

For every kilo of coffee you buy, we set aside €0.06/kg for green projects in the country of origin. This means that the farmers themselves are given the opportunity to support their own popular project with a green characteristic. Sometimes in combination with a government subsidy, which often require a 50-50 contribution from the private sector. These projects range from training to become a beekeeper, to the purchase of seedlings, to a course in nature-inclusive agriculture” .

Not yet a ready-made stamp that says it has been double checked, but a lot of passionate people in the chain who find this extremely important anyway and who didn't even need pressure from the EU to give hands and feet to this goal :- ).

In any case, all these impactful projects make me very happy!