Sustainability – what a loaded word! It is a nebulous term that is thrown around with abandon throughout our industry as well as many others and upon asking 10 different individuals what it means, I was presented with 10 different answers. The definitions all seem to have some central themes: economic viability, environmental issues, social and community services. In doing some online research I happened upon a very simple definition: “The ability to sustain,” or in other words, “the capacity to endure.” I believe that this simple definition encompasses the true spirit we are all trying to achieve allowing each company, or individual, to then espouse on the specific methods they are employing to ensure the “sustainability” of the specific area to which they are referring. However, I don’t believe simply using the term is ever enough. Without including the specifics of the situation, the use of them term could be akin to “green-washing.” Thankfully consumers, especially the Millennials, are becoming more savvy and demanding.
That being said, the November issue begins a long-term editorial theme CoffeeTalk will be taking, focusing on how our industry can take the necessary steps for our industry to not just survive, but thrive. This is no small task as I see coffee quickly heading towards some potentially disastrous issues, most revolving around supply chain issues. In fact, our 2015 State of the Industry issue asks the question of respected industry experts, “What do you see as key threats to our industry and strategies to address them.” If you have a specific interest in contributing to this editorial, please visit coffeetalk.com and click the link in the upper left, “Submit Story Idea.” We truly value your input!
An Inspirational Example of Sustainability
A Recent trip to Colombia gave me hope for the future of the coffee industry around the world. Between the collaboration of the government and the FNC, programs have been put in place to combat the major threats to the continuation of the Colombia coffee industry: Climate Change; Gender Equality Issues; Motivating the Young to Continue in Coffee Related Careers; and Reducing Violence and Improving Community. With all that we saw we could fill an entire issue with ideas and strategies that could serve as a model for other coffee producing countries. Libby Smith, our new Editorial Director, shares her observations on page 10. In addition, I hope you all get a chance to check out our guest feature writer, Maura Keller’s exploration of the issue of “sustainability” as it relates to the various certifications for coffee on page 12.
Finally, we are thrilled to announce our 2014 Making a Difference Winner. Every July, CoffeeTalk dedicates its entire issue to projects throughout the coffee industry designed to improve the lives of those in the most need. Our goal is to help our readers connect in a meaningful way with the work being done by giving awareness to the projects and making it easy to help. We then make a personal donation of $1000 to the project that receives the most views and clicks in the issue. Of the twenty-eight projects presented this year, one stood out with more than 1,000 more clicks than any other in the issue. Congratulations to Pueblo a Pueblo’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene for Coffee Community Schools project in Guatemala. “Sustainability” truly cannot exist unless the population has access to clean water and healthy hygiene! You can read about it at