Our guide to becoming an ethical coffee lover.

Almost everyone’s favourite beverage, coffee, has been slowly gaining popularity, even in the UK, the past decade but there is an unpleasant history surrounding coffee production and its distribution. There has been much discussion in the past few years about the nature of how coffee is made. Where does it come from? Is it ethically farmed? Is it grown with sustainable practices? And lastly how much single-use plastic do these coffee producers use?

This issue is of great importance as almost 95 million cups are enjoyed daily in the UK alone. And most of these to-go coffees are sold in single-use plastics. Adding to that, the transportation of coffee beans and the production of coffee itself, are already putting a huge strain on the environment.

So what exactly is sustainable coffee? In essence, it is coffee that is farmed and marketed for its environmental sustainability. This includes organic, fair trade, and Rainforest Alliance-certified coffee. Coffee is classified in a number of ways to determine growers' (or the supply chain's) compliance in various combinations of social, environmental, and economic qualities.

Coffees that fall into these standards and are independently recognized or validated by an accredited third party have been dubbed "sustainable coffees." In addition, ethical or sustainable coffee abides by established regulations and provides better prospects and base living wage for the people that grow and process it. If you want to find out more about sustainable coffee you can visit the website of Sustainable Coffee Challenge that was established during the 2015 Paris Climate Change Meetings here.

But how can you, as a consumer,make a small change for the better and make sure the coffee you are buying comes from a certified source?

First of all, try to purchase coffee and or coffee beans from sources that are accredited or known for their ethical standards, while keeping in mind that Fairtrade isn't the be-all and end-all of what is ethical. A couple of good sources for you to find out more about coffee accreditation are the Ethical Consumer list and the Honest Grounds website where they have produced a list of brands that offer certified sustainable coffee.

Secondly, If you go out for coffee, try to support local small shops or small coffee roasters rather than giant corporations. You will not only be supporting local businesses, but these cafe owners will also have fairly direct ties with both roasteries and farmers. There you can look for sustainable labels that point out the legitimacy of the sustainability of the product. You can look out for various accreditations like whether the coffee is organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance Certified or Bird Friendly.

And remember to take your reusable coffee cup!

So, for when you are out and about in Glasgow, we wanted to showcase some local brands, coffee shops and coffee roasters that strive for sustainable and ethically produced coffee where you can buy and enjoy your favourite drink. Let’s have a look!

#1 Locavore Grocery

Locavore has been going strong since 2011 with its latest addition the store in Partick. They have waste reduction at the heart of everything they supply, be it food or packaging and you can buy sustainable and ethical coffee from any of their locations around Glasgow!

#2 Gordon Street Coffee

As a small-batch coffee roaster, they have been frequently adding new weapons to their sustainable arsenal futureproofing their environmentally friendly approach. Such as a regular coffee bean recycling service and the latest addition of compostable coffee capsules to use in both of their shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

#3 Roots Fruits and Flowers

Established in 1980 on Great Western Road they specialise in both wholesale and retail fresh produce that is environmentally conscious. Along with your sustainable coffee, you can also buy locally sourced snacks at their store. Talk around town is that the owners are planning on opening a completely new café soon with the same heavily environmentally friendly influence in mind… fingers crossed!

#4 The Steamie Coffee Roasters

They take their single-origin speciality coffee very seriously and they are proud to be a small-batch coffee roaster. Their coffee is ethically sourced and they only cooperate with micro-farms that follow the harvesting season to ensure their coffee is sustainable and has reached the optimum taste, flavour and freshness.

#5 Dear Green Coffee

Another sustainable and ethical coffee company that was established in Glasgow in 2011. They have opened a creative space called PROJECT on Osbourne street where they showcase their green coffee products and they offer only locally sourced bakes. They are also the founders and organisers of the Glasgow Coffee Festival that started in 2018, the first of its kind to ban all disposable coffee cups.

If you have any special places you have found around town that serve sustainable and ethical coffee feel free to share them with us and as always, don’t miss the chance to subscribe to our newsletter and get 10% off your order!


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