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Corruption in Coffee & How to Be a Conscious Consumer

Updated: Feb 23

Did you know that the coffee industry is one of the most corrupt in the world? Having worked for several coffee brands, I cannot express how important it is to purchase quality coffee beans & products. The social injustice & environmental atrocities that take place in the coffee industry are unspeakable, not to mention the amount of chemicals being sprayed on the beans that you are ingesting as the consumer. As consumers, we can do better, & create a world that cares for its planet & people. So, here we go with some tips for purchasing coffee!

coffee, corruption in coffee, conscious consumer

Fair Trade

You may have seen various Fair Trade labels on your products, & they do vary slightly, but at the end of the day, they are pretty similar & have the same basis. Fair Trade ensures fair trading practices between companies & communities harvesting these materials (cocoa, coffee, tea, cotton, fruit, etc.) that are later used for production. Safe working conditions & product quality are ensured. Money is funneled back into these communities through premiums, higher wages, & typically programs that the company will set up as well. As an example, when I worked with Honest Tea, they built a school, built wells, provided glasses & bicycles to communities, the list goes on! Learn about the various Fair Trade labels in my article - Explained: Why Does My Food Have so Many Labels?

If you see the USDA Organic label on your food then it will contain 95% organic ingredients. These products are allowed to include Natural Flavors as well. Read your ingredients list!

Shade Grown

The coffee industry has been known to be a big contributor to deforestation, taking down trees in order to grow heartier beans. "Encouraged by local and national governments – along with development aid agencies like USAID – many of these farmers began to cut down the trees that create the canopy under which coffee has traditionally been grown and plant in their place varietals specially bred to grow in full sun. Those selected were heartier and more resistant to disease and pests – and were also less affected by the application of chemical fungicides (Myers, 2015)." Trees allow us to breathe fresh air, so be sure to take care of them by purchasing shade grown coffee.

The Rainforest Alliance seal is similar to the Fair Trade label with more of an emphasis on environmental conservation. If you checkout the Rainforest Alliance website you will see that their seal means "that the product (or a specified ingredient) was produced by farmers, foresters, and/or companies that are working together to create a world where people thrive in nature & harmony."

Now, that you have some jumping off points for your conscious coffee shopping, here are some of my favorite brands & local Boulder shops!

Whole Bean Coffee

  • Peak State Coffee: Shade grown, Fair Trade, organic, functional & local - what more could you ask for in a coffee?! Peak State is my go to when it comes to purchasing whole beans to enjoy at home. Not only are they sustainable, local & personal friends of mine, but their coffee is fortified with mushrooms! What does that mean for you? You body gets to enjoy the medicinal benefits of mushrooms while sipping your coffee.

  • Equal Exchange: Not just Fair Trade coffee, but "a social change organization that [would] help[s] farmers and their families gain more control over their economic futures."

  • Conscious Coffee: A local Boulder roaster that provides Fair Trade, organic, flavorful coffee beans.

Instant Coffee

  • Cusa Coffee & Tea: I bring these premium instant tea & coffee packets with me everywhere. Not only are they absolutely delicious, but they legitimately brew a delicious cup of coffee in a matter of seconds. Perfect for camping, hiking, or just a lazy day at home.

Coffee Shops

  • Gabee Coffee: My favorite coffee in town - Gabee's roasts are booming with flavor! Top notch taste, organic, trusted suppliers & eco-friendly bags. Plus, the folks who run this quaint little shop are wonderful & always happy to get to know their customers.

  • Ampersand Coffee Roasters: A bad ass women-owned coffee company that provides organic & Fair Trade coffee all while empowering women to follow their dreams!

  • Find Conscious Coffee at Tod's Espresso in Gunbarrel, Fresh Thymes, Lucky's & Lolita's Markets in town.

Pretty much the only coffee I drink nowadays is Peak State Coffee, & CUSA when I'm on the go. Why? The acidity in coffee really bothers my gut microbiome, but when it comes to Peak State, the fungi adaptogens aid with digestion, & CUSA has 70% less acidity than most coffees due to their cold-steep technology. Plus, they're both local & sustainable brands that I love to support! So, there you have it! Stop drinking your shitty coffee & pick up a bag that actually supports you & our global community.

Looking for clean beauty & body care products? Check out the Embodied Ambrosia Clean Beauty Collection in the Shop!

Source: Myers, A.J. (2015, August 31). The Dark Side of Coffee: An Unequal Social & Environmental Exchange. The Conversation.

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