One of our coffees this week is a Rainforest Certified coffee, and we wanted to make sure our loyal customers know what that means.
A Tiny Dose of Coffee Education
What is Rainforest Alliance Certification?
So, what's the deal with this Rainforest Alliance Certification? Well, according to their website, "Rainforest Alliance Certification offers farms a way to distinguish their products as being socially, economically and environmentally sustainable." With hundreds of crops being farmed in areas that have rainforests, there is a great deal of flora and fauna that naturally live in those delicate ecosystems - something that people want to make sure is still there decades to come.
When it comes to farming specialty grade coffee (I'm not talking about Folgers here), most coffee is cared for by hand by poor people who live on the side of a mountain - people whose livelihood is tied to the sustainability of their land. As a general rule, they tend to be careful with how they do things. Coffee is a crop that naturally desires some shade and actually grows well under a canopy of taller trees and vegetation. Rainforest Alliance Certification comes along and rewards farmers who comply with their list of sustainable practices by allowing them to tout their coffee as environmentally friendly - albeit for a nice price (think "application fee"). Nevertheless, for people in the Industrialized world (mostly the States and Europe) who make their buying choices based on certifications that resonate with their value systems, such certifications serve a purpose.
In the end, I guess what I'm saying is... Whereas this certification may be more significant for the farming of, say bannanas, I believe it is of less significance when it comes to specialty coffee. I'm sure every coffee we sell could bear this certification if the poor farmers who are trying to feed their children decided to spend a few thousand of their hard earned dollars for the right to print the little green frog logo on their bags. In the case of the El Salvador, it just so happens that we decided to buy a coffee that has the frog.
We really value coffee farming that is sustainable - which honestly most of all specialty coffee achieves. Just a word of explanation about this certification.