Updated list of sustainable coffee sources

by JulieCraves on August 18, 2006

I’m revising the list of sustainable coffee providers once again. There are a lot of great roasters out there, and many carry sustainable coffees, but I don’t intend to list them all. The intention is to provide links to places where consumers are assured of finding the the best variety of good, sustainable coffee.

Note that not all coffees from each place will be sustainable. I’ll continue to provide reviews of additional providers and specific coffees from many further roasters.

I’ve tried to apply a few key criteria to the retailers included here:

  • Of course, they must regularly offer sustainable coffees. Smithsonian “Bird Friendly” coffees (SMBC) and Rainforest Alliance certified coffees are an obvious choice. So are many organics, although just being organic doesn’t necessarily guarantee biodiversity is preserved. Unfortunately, there are not-insignificant costs involved in various certifications, and there are many sustainable farms that are not certified. Therefore, above all, I look for roasters that mention shade, sustainability, or biodiversity specifically and include details, and/or that source from farms that I’m able to determine are biodiversity and environmentally friendly. Roasters that have direct relationships with farmers or cooperatives often provide this kind of detail.
  • They must have online retail shopping.
  • They must have clear descriptions of origins on most of their offerings — not just the country, but if possible region and estate.  Big bonuses if they also list the botanical variety and links to the farms or cooperatives.  Including these facts provide important details which help consumers make wise choices in sustainable coffee.
  • An obvious dedication to offering quality coffee.  Occasionally I come across a retailer who is more concerned with a “cause” than with the coffee.  I want consumers who try coffee to love it and become converts to great-tasting sustainable coffee.  I look for details on roast level and flavor, and outside reviews.
  • I’ve stuck to North America, mostly roasters in the U.S.
  • Bonus to roasters that themselves have sustainable business practices and outline them on their site.

My entire list of roasters is found on the interactive roaster map. This enables you to also look for a roaster near you that might have a retail outlet, or just be closer for shipping. (Don’t forget to click on the link “Show list” at the top left to…show the list of roasters.)  There are also recommended roasters listed in the page footer; refresh the page to bring up new roasters.

Revised on November 28, 2020

Posted in Retail and specialty roasters

Eric August 27, 2006 at 11:48 am

A couple of possible additions to your excellent list: http://www.sweetmarias.com — while they sell very little roasted coffee, they're great for unroasted, "green" beans. And they sell lots of organic and FT coffee, and all of their coffee offerings have tons of info about where and how they're produced.

And http://www.portorico.com , a family-owned roaster in NYC. Lots of FT, Org, and BF coffee, and a great company to do business with.

BirdBarista August 27, 2006 at 12:03 pm

I do have Sweet Maria's listed in my green bean post. I'll check out Porto Rico Importing Co. more thoroughly — but I see they do offer SMBC-certified coffees. I generally filtered out a lot of companies that only had brief origin descriptions like PRIC. This is not to say they are not commendable sources, just that I had to draw a line somewhere.

Thanks for stopping by…keep the suggestions coming!

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