Caribou Coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified???

July 13, 2007 at 3:54 pm 3 comments

Posted by Ed:

This morning I enjoyed a cup of Dark Roast coffee from one of my favorite coffee houses. I don’t know if Caribou Coffee is considered a coffee house especially if it’s in a strip mall, but that’s a different topic. I picked up a 2 page pamphlet titled “Doing The Right Thing” that describes how Caribou Coffee is selecting coffee from partners that grow beans in a sustainable manner. While I read this brochure, I was hoping that the paper was produced with recycled paper, but what caught my eye was a seal from the Rainforest Alliance stating that they were certified. What does it take to become certified with the Rainforest Alliance?

According to the Rainforest alliance website “Certification of a farm or forest begins with a preliminary site visit to determine the changes necessary for Rainforest Alliance certification.” The “Sustainable Agriculture Standard” supplied on their website involves social and environmental management, ecosystem conservation, wildlife protection, fair treatment and good working conditions for employees, occupational health and safety, community relations, crop management, waste management. These are all great standards for the growth and harvesting of the beans, but what about packaging, assembly plants, processing plants, shipping methods? Applying a seal that says your crops are grown safely is one thing, but what about the other environmental affects? I think that the alliance is a good step, but think there should be some standards for what happens to the beans after they are grown and harvested from the crops. Manufacturing facilities sure use a lot of resources and energy. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michiel  |  July 16, 2007 at 7:43 am

    you have a good point, but i don’t think any of the existing certification schemes (Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Utz Certified, Organic) addresses this. They are all concerned with how the crop is produced. I have seen reports that show that the biggest environmental impact is on the consumer end- e.g. the water boiled for making a cup of coffee requires more energy than everything that’s happened to that coffee before…This is mostly because processing before the product reaches the end consumer is much more efficient, given the voumes involved.

    So the certification labels are a first and important step- let’s not denigrate them but at the same time let’s make sure that we realize there s more work to be done.

    Reply
  • 2. DJ, Costa Rica  |  August 5, 2007 at 1:57 am

    I work for the Rainforest Alliance in Costa Rica and can tell you we have thought a lot about what happens to the crops harvested from the farms we certify. I agree with Michiel that what happens on the farm is a vitally important first step — ensuring that farming is more sustainable matters a great deal. But there’s more we can all do. We really need consumers to show they care by buying foods and beverages that are certified as sustainably grown…that can help us push the companies that sell those goods a little bit more.

    Reply
  • 3. Rod Hagen  |  October 2, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    ‘Rainforest Alliance” = “Fairtrade Lite”.

    Certainly better than nothing, but focused really on the interests of the big plantations and the major companies with a need for a positive marketing spin, rather than on the local small producers in 3rd world countries.

    Rainbow Alliance certification requires companies to meet some basic conditions about payment of the national minimum wage and the like.

    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainforest_Alliance for some of the pros and cons.

    Reply

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