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What Is the Environmental Impact of Coffee and What Can We Do to Be Mindful of It?

Sustainability can be done in every aspect of your life.

When you think of environmental impact, perhaps single use plastics come to mind, or being mindful of fuel or energy expenditures, but have you ever thought about the environmental impact of the coffee you drink each morning? Coffee used to be farmed in the shade of trees, which encouraged biodiversity and the protection of the natural environment. Starting in the 1970’s the coffee producers cut trees on land that would yield a larger crop of beans. This was to increase the volume they could produce and scale. We interviewed Nora Tobin, performance enhancement and executive coach, nutrition specialist and CEO of Nora’s Naturals Coffee, discusses the importance of being aware of the environmental impact that coffee can have on local communities when sourced incorrectly. Keep reading for more!

This Is the Environmental Impact of Coffee Production

The Traditional Method of Growing Coffee

This was done In tropical & subtropical areas at high elevation, shaded under a canopy of trees. This allowed coffee growers to make a living producing coffee and while also contributing to the high biodiversity levels within the land they worked. The preserved canopies used for coffee bean production also served as a solid habitat for many indigenous animals, while also preventing topsoil erosion.

Sun-Grown Coffee

Due to increased market demand, many farmers used this method where trees are cleared to grow coffee in rows under direct sunlight. Research has reported that sun-grown coffee creates the largest yield, but eliminates plant diversity that then affects many insects, animals and ultimately the biodiversity of the region. This leads to a chain reaction of other long term environmental damage to the land (ex: deforestation of tropical forests which are critical to atmosphere dynamics, water quality & wildlife species). This process often employs intense pesticides & chemicals.

The Difference

This is something that we did not know myself. We never actually took the time to think about how coffee came to be how it is today, in the way that we know it. By choosing coffee from single origin and if possible micro-lots, the consumer will be supporting seasonal farms that maintain the natural habitat and environmental benefits where the bean comes from, as well as preserve the biodiversity of the land. It is for this reason, why Nora’s Naturals Coffee sources its coffee from seasonal, sustainable farms.


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