Sustainability is notoriously complex, embedded in deeply interdependent environmental, social, and economic contexts. And coffee, which must play convoluted games of global leap frog to get from farms into our cups, is no less tricky. The coffee industry, somewhat uniquely, has intertwined itself with sustainability at a deep level. But there are no easy answers.
When I was writing Left Coast Roast, the issue of sustainability was the thorniest, and therefore led to some of the most interesting conversations I had with coffee roasters.
I was interested in exploring how ideas about sustainability have changed in the last decade, and in hearing from both coffee roasters and academics on the issue. What is known about effective solutions? What are we still guessing at? Are quality and sustainability mutually reinforcing or do they conflict? I am grateful that the amazing folks at CUESA in San Francisco were keen to take up the topic and agreed to sponsor a panel discussion on it. Below is the description—I hope to see many people there.
Coffee and Sustainability Panel Discussion
Ferry Building, San Francisco
Jan. 21, 6 pm
Coffee is a daily necessity for many of us, savored quietly in the kitchen, downed at work as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or sipped at a cafe among friends. With the exploding popularity of coffee in recent years, there are more options than ever, and more confusing messages about what “sustainable” means. Which coffee should we choose? In the Bay Area, you won’t find any coffee farms, but you will find local artisan roasters who are grappling with these questions, selecting their beans not only for quality and taste but also for values. Join CUESA for a discussion of the ethics behind a cup of coffee: What is its environmental footprint? Are the farmers taking care of the land? Are they getting a fair price, and what is the effect on the communities along the supply chain?
Hanna Neuschwander, author of Left Coast Roast: A guide to the Best Coffee and Roasters from San Francisco to Seattle, will introduce the complexities of growing coffee and moving it around the globe. She will moderate the panel.
- Christopher Bacon, environmental social scientist, professor at Santa Clara University, and co-author of Confronting the Coffee Crisis
- James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee Co. and author of The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee
- Colby Barr of Verve Coffee Roasters, 2012 Good Food Award winner