My initial interest in coffee stemmed from my work with migratory birds, which spend the winter in coffee-growing regions, and often on shade coffee farms. All good ecologists understand inter-connectedness, so I read a lot of coffee-centric web sites to gain an understanding of how everything fits together. But my primary focus on sustainability; the environmental and ecological impacts of coffee; and how consumers, society, and the industry make their choices (my minor was in sociology) has meant my main coffee reading list contains some unique voices outside the usual industry, roaster, and barista blogs. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order, along with a link to a few posts that exemplify why I’ve found them so useful.
CRS Coffeelands – Michael Sheridan writes this informed, thoughtful, clear-headed blog on his work with smallholders in Latin America for Catholic Relief Services. When you’re ready to go beyond all the feel-good fluff of baristas at origin and corporate do-gooding in the supply chain, find out what it’s really like for small farmers trying to make a living.
- Top posts of 2011 (a great starting point if you are interested in the real story of the shake-up in Fair Trade)
- What are certifications worth in this market?
- What that study really said
Espresso News and Reviews – TheShot.coffeeratings.com. Although subtitled “Rants and Raves on Espresso”, Greg Sherwin often writes about wider topics having to do with the consumer/industry interface.
- Corporate social responsibility and the socially irresponsible consumer
- How Consumer Reports does more harm than good for good coffee
- Is that “Bean to Cup” … or “Bean AND Cup”?
- Attitudes toward organic coffee and pricing
- Where your coffee dollar goes: breakdown of costs in a pound of beans
- Why the Keurig K-Cup is the beginning of the end for great coffee
- Sustainability metrics matter, part 1, part 2, and part 3
- Mulching with coffee pulp
- Solar power adding value in Tanzania
- Actually, organic foods ARE healthier for you (and everything else living on the planet)
- Food security, organic farming, and environmental preservation in Colombia
- Listening to the birds
Finally, not really a coffee blog, but…
Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog – Luigi Guarino and Jeremy Cherfas gather news, comment and write about…agricultural biodiversity. It is extremely wide-ranging, so while coffee makes only occasional appearances, there is a wealth of information on every aspect of biodiversity in agriculture: genetic resources, maps. databases, biodiversity infomatics, research well publicized and obscure, it’s all there. Academic and wonky — I love it.