The Case for Sustainable Coffee: Climate Change and Chemicals – Black River Roasters


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The Case for Sustainable Coffee: Climate Change and Chemicals

Hey there! My name is Justina. I’m going to be doing blog posts from time to time. Just so you know a little bit about me: I’m a full-time college student and an avid environmentalist and human rights activist, so my blog posts may touch upon some of these passions of mine!

As one of the baristas at Black River Roasters (but a devoted customer and self proclaimed coffee fanatic prior to my employment), I can say, with certainty, that Black River Roasters has some of the best coffee I’ve ever had in my entire life…I’ve become spoiled. There are multiple reasons for our amazing quality and taste…this week, as much as I’d like to overwhelm you with all of the reasons why I love this place, I’m only going to talk about one of them: our organic and sustainable sourcing.

Climate change is becoming ever more apparent and every single one of us needs to do our best to reduce our impact on the environment. I am proud to say that Black River Roasters is a certified organic roastery that offers fair trade and rainforest alliance certified coffees.

We are consistently working to improve our sustainability efforts. You may be wondering how all of this affects you. Pesticides are extremely prevalent in the conventional coffee industry. Not only is this problematic for the environment and the rapid increase of climate change but for you, the customer, as well. Pesticides have been found to detrimentally impact those that come in direct contact with them. Who are they? They are farmers and the people that deal with pesticide dispersal. In fact, pesticide poisoning accounts for around 1 million deaths every year. Pesticides invoke many health related issues: weakened immune systems, unbalanced hormone production becomes, increased susceptibility of developing gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases and an extreme increase of cancer rates to name a few. Though there is mixed research on pesticides being transferred to a customers’ coffee cup, there is no doubt that pesticides are impacting people’s health as well as perpetuating negative environmental health and degradation, which already has and will continue to impede upon our daily lives.

Climate change is being exacerbated in areas where conventional coffee growing methods and pesticides are being used. Deforestation is a massive problem in the coffee industry and is growing as weather patterns shift. The mass amount of tree clear cutting and irresponsible conventional farming practices leads to an increase of water contamination, air contamination, soil erosion and contamination of soil.

Organic and sustainable coffee bean production mitigates all of the environmental damage mentioned above, as well as utilizes very little chemicals or pesticides (if any are used they are environmentally friendly and not synthetic). In addition, farmers at certified coffee farms, are educated regarding proper farming methods, chemical and waste removal. This creates a more healthy environment for workers, wildlife and the earth itself. Unfortunately organic and sustainable coffee farming is more difficult and produces lower yields, which may come at a bit of a higher cost to the customer (I’ll expand on this in my next blog post). However, who wouldn’t want to pay a little more for fantastic coffee that is consciously grown and produced with everyone and everything in mind?! 

Remember, whether it's hot or cold, be strong and be bold!




Aktar, Wasim et. al. “Impact of Pesticides Use in Agriculture: Their Benefits and Hazards”. Interdisciplinary Toxicology: 2.1 (2009): n.p. Web.

“Deforestation”. World Wildlife Fund.

Fiore, Sara. “Organic Vs. Conventional Coffee”. 25 April 2014. Web.

Kubota, Lily. “Beyond The Quality of the Water in Your Cup: Coffee and Water Resources at Origin” 8 July 2013. Web.

León, Clarissa A. “Pesticides in Your Coffee?”. 30 July 2014. Web.

“Pesticides, Waste & Human Health: Our Impacts”. Rainforest Alliance.

Vander Velde, Bruno. “Eyeing Coffee’s Climate Impact, New Initiative Seeks Sustainability for

Entire Crop.” 1 December 2015. Web.