Check out these ethical coffee brands that you can order online, so your morning cup can have lasting impacts beyond your caffeine boost.
If your morning routine is anything like mine, you can’t get going without a cup of coffee (or several). But being coffee drinkers and consumers makes us part of an industry with a difficult history, which makes supporting ethical coffee brands essential in order to really savor every sip.
The coffee industry has its roots in the exploitation of people in Africa. This history has had lasting effects on marginalized communities to this very day, especially as many large coffee companies still take advantage of their farmers. Furthermore, the demand for coffee has led some coffee producers to forego traditional shade-grown coffee methods in favor of clearcutting portions of forests to create sun-grown coffee farms.
You have the power to make sure every cup you pour has a lasting impact beyond your caffeine boost. Rather than purchasing coffee from the world’s largest roasters, you can support these five ethical coffee brands, each of which is committed to advancing positive social and environmental change, by ordering their coffee online. By making a conscious choice about which brands you buy your coffee from, you can help mitigate the negative impacts of the industry while boosting the positive efforts of such companies.
Repetition Coffee is a locally-owned and woman-owned coffee company in Lawrence, Kansas, that offers coffee beans from around the globe, including Uganda, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. The founder of Repetition, Amy Pope, had dreams of becoming a foreign diplomat, but changed course on a trip to Paris that found her engaging with the Parisian specialty coffee world.
The company’s website highlights its commitment to ethical coffee sourcing and production; Pope personally made trips to South America to meet with farmers, check the quality of the coffee beans, and ensure the farmers were operating with sustainability and social responsibility in mind.
You can buy Repetition Coffee by the bag, perusing the options, reading detailed descriptions about the coffee’s origins and production, and considering which flavor notes you are craving. Then, once you’ve found your favorites, you can sign up for either a weekly, biweekly, or monthly coffee subscription.
Spirit Mountain Roasting Co.
A Native American-owned coffee brand, Spirit Mountain Roasting Co. is located in Winterhaven, California. Founder Tudor Montague is a member of the Quechan Tribe. Through a portion of its sales, Spirit Mountain Roasting Co. supports Indigenous nonprofits, including Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli/Indigenous Roots in Minnesota and Native America Humane Society in California.
The company considers its supply chain part of its community and is committed to ensuring ethical and sustainable operations throughout it. When it can, the company chooses to source its beans from Indigenous coffee farmers directly. In addition, Spirit Mountain Roasting Co. recognizes its responsibility to the health of our planet and uses biodegradable coffee bags made from renewable materials to package its ethical coffee.
You can purchase Spirit Mountain Roasting Co. coffee by the bag along with apparel and other accessories. The company also offers its coffee wholesale.
Equal Exchange combines two of my biggest passions: coffee and democracy. If you’re like me, you’ll be excited to learn about Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative based out of St. Paul, Minnesota. The company is also a Fair Trade business, meaning the company supports small farmers around the world and pursues positive environmental and social goals through its supply chain.
As a worker-owned co-op, Equal Exchange involves its employees throughout its decision making process. When company decisions are on the table, every worker-owner (there are more than 130) gets one vote on the issue. They also get a share of profits, regardless of their position in the company. Furthermore, Equal Exchange is putting in the work to educate people on sustainable and equitable food systems by producing and gathering a robust trove of resources on its website.
Equal Exchange sells its ethical coffee online in a variety of formats: in bags, as single-serve coffee pods, and in bulk. Additionally, Equal Exchange is a wholesale coffee supplier, so you can buy coffee for your cafe, your office, your congregation, or any other group you’re a part of.
Located in Memphis, Tennessee, Cxffeeblack is a Black-owned coffee shop on a mission to connect coffee drinkers with the bean’s African roots and provide opportunities to the Black community in Memphis.
In a video on the site, co-founder Bartholomew Jones says, “[Coffee] both makes the world run and brings people together. But the lesser known reality is this: Coffee was swindled from Africa in the 16th Century. And at Cxffeeblack, we believe Black communities reengaging in coffee is both a means to reclaim a stolen destiny and build generational wealth within the diaspora.”
The company sells coffee by the bag and via its Anti Gentrification Cxffee Club Subscription Box of two bags per month plus early access to exclusive coffee flavors, monthly 8×10 prints, and music made available just for subscribers. Speaking of music, the company does in fact sell music, produced by Jones, along with many apparel items and accessories. While browsing the coffee, you can learn about the African history of coffee, how colonizers and slave traders stole it to make a profit off the backs of Black labor, and the lasting impact that has had on Black people around the globe.
Portland Coffee Roasters
As the name implies, Portland Coffee Roasters is based in, you guessed it, Portland, Oregon. (Sorry Portland, Maine.) The company has been in operation since 1996 with a focus on positively impacting people around the world since the beginning.
For three years in a row, Portland Coffee Roasters has received the Gold Certification awarded by the City of Portland’s Sustainability at Work program to recognize businesses that operate according to sustainable and regenerative environmental principles. To that end, Portland Coffee Roasters composts all of its organic waste, powers its headquarters and other buildings using 100% renewable energy, delivers its goods via bicycle for its local customers, and offers its used burlap bags to anyone who may use them.
Furthermore, the company supports community-improvement projects in the coffee growing communities it sources from. These projects have included building schools, childcare facilities, and clean water wells, and planting thousands of trees.
Portland Coffee Roasters sells its coffee by the bag, in single-serve cups and Nespresso-compatible capsules, and in bulk. It is also a wholesale coffee supplier.
Check out this amazing interview with ethical coffee brand Dean’s Beans.
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For the past couple years, Ryan has been helping purpose-driven organizations, businesses, and individuals tell their stories using a variety of digital skills and tools to reach their target audiences. Ryan's work has touched democracy reform, the impact economy, public safety, and more.