100% Kauai Coffee is Fair Trade Certified™, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified
For Fred Cowell, General Manager at Kauai Coffee Company, producing coffee in a sustainable manner is as much a cultural commitment as it is an environmental one. For more than six years, Mr. Cowell has managed the largest coffee farm in the United States by putting care for his employees, Kauai’s land, natural resources, and community at the forefront.
With Cowell at the helm and an ambitious sustainability program in place, Kauai Coffee Company has earned the unique distinction of producing triple certified Hawaiian coffee. 100% Kauai Coffee® is Fair Trade Certified™, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified. Goods that are Fair Trade Certified™ by Fair Trade USA help provide safe working conditions and environmental protections, while empowering farmers to create sustainable livelihoods and improve their communities. They do so by utilizing their “Community Development Funds,” additional money workers earn on top of wages that workers can use for improvements of their choosing. In 2022, Kauai Coffee Company will begin dispersing its Community Development Funds toward unique needs within its community.
The Rainforest Alliance seal means that farmers follow more sustainable farming practices that protect forests, improve their livelihoods, promote human rights of farm workers, and help them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. The Non-GMO Project verification program is North America’s most rigorous third-party verification for non-GMO food and products. “Our team has worked hard to earn and maintain our sustainability certifications. In the Hawaiian culture, we have a word, kuleana, which means responsibility and stewardship,” said Cowell. “At Kauai Coffee Company, we feel it is our kuleana to look after our land and resources for those who will follow and honor the contributions of those who came before,” he continued.
Kauai Coffee Company’s commitment to sustainable farming and soil management isn’t just a buzzword. With nearly four million coffee trees, growing responsibly depends on careful stewardship and technology. The 3,100-acre farm is the largest drip-irrigated coffee estate in the world, with over 2,500 miles of efficient drip tubing installed. The system applies nutrients directly to the roots of the trees, reducing the amount of fertilizer and herbicides used and eliminating the need to spray or dust the crop.
“We salute Kauai Coffee in its new commitment to fair trade sourcing and going the extra mile to ensure its farmers are treated equitably and have a voice,” said Paul Rice, Founder & CEO of Fair Trade USA. “Now, when shoppers buy Fair Trade Certified™ Kauai Coffee, they will know they’re part of a world-changing way of doing business.”
Two other critical components of Kauai Coffee Company’s sustainability program are water conservation and soil health. To conserve water during the harvest, Kauai Coffee Company diverts water from the drip irrigation system to the processing plant, where it is used to clean and remove the coffee fruit from the bean. After processing, more than three million pounds of coffee cherry pulp and mulch are composted and put back into the orchard as a soil nutrient, and the water used to clean and process the beans is filtered and reapplied on the farm. Kauai Coffee Company is also in the early stages of converting the orchard to a full cover crop operation, which has the potential to increase organic matter in the soil and reduce water requirements by 20%.
“It takes a lot more planning and people to operate sustainably, but it is better for everyone,” said Jon Ching, Kauai Coffee Company Orchard Manager. “The learning curve is big, but it is really exciting,” he continued. In June, Kauai Coffee Company will roll out new packaging for all 100% Kauai Coffee® products. The new bags will proudly display each certification badge to help consumers make informed decisions based upon where their coffee comes from, who is involved in its production, and how it is made.
“Growing coffee you can feel great about sharing with your ‘ohana (family) is our passion,” said Cowell. “Triple certification and orchard sustainability are just the beginning. We will continue to work toward our sustainability goals and produce the best Hawaiian coffee available,” he concluded. It’s not just sustainability advocates taking note of Kauai Coffee Company’s commitment to sustainability and quality. In 2021 readers of HAWAI’I Magazine recognized Kauai Coffee Company as the Best Coffee Grower in the all-island category of the publication’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards marking the fifth year in a row Kauai Coffee® has taken top honors in the competition.
“Unlike other coffee growers, Kauai Coffee Company offers consumers a direct connection to our team and our community with 100 % traceability from seed to cup,” noted Cowell. Kauai Coffee Company grows many varietals, including Acaia, Kauai Blue Mountain, Red and Yellow Catuai, Typica, and Mundo Novo. 100% Kauai Coffee® is available for purchase at the Kauai Coffee Visitor Center, most grocery stores in the state of Hawaii, and from kauaicoffee.com. Worldwide shipping and subscription services are available.
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