Recent sustainability awards

by JulieCraves on June 1, 2007

Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality. This event was started in 2004 as a competition for Rainforest Alliance certified coffees. The most recent cuppings took place last December and in April, with over 100 samples submitted. There are many top-flight sustainable coffees available; I was disappointed to see that most of these coffees scored under 90 points (specialty coffee = 80 or greater).

Here are the top farms:

  1. La Esmeralda, Panama, 90.04. Arguably, the most famous and pricey specialty coffee in the world.  We offered background here and a review here. It also won first place in the SCAA 2007 Roasters Guild Cupping Pavilion Competition earlier this month (for the third year in a row), and the Best of Panama, once again, last month. We have a jar on my desk to save up to try this one again. It just sold at auction for $130/pound, $80 more per pound than last year, it is just not worth it.  It was very distinctive and interesting, but this pricing reflects novelty/celebrity status.
  2. Carmen Estate Coffee S.A., Panama, 88.96.
  3. Santa Teresa, El Salvador, 88.25. (All bourbon coffee from four farms, from western El Salvador in Ahuachapan, is milled at the Santa Teresa Estate.)
  4. Finca Medina, S.A., Guatemala, 87.46 (Antigua;10% of the farm is regenerated native forest.)
  5. Grupo Aguadas de Caldas, Colombia, 87.04.

SCAA Sustainability Awards.  Established in 2004, this award recognizes specialty coffee companies that have created innovative projects to expand sustainability within the coffee world while inspiring others to initiate similar endeavors. These are the winners for 2007 announced earlier this month.

  • Poabs Organic/Biodynamic Estates, India. In the Nelliyampathy hills in the Western Ghats (Palakkad district, Kerala), pioneers of organic farming not only of coffee, but also tea and other crops.
  • Selva Negra Coffee Estate, Nicaragua. Sustainable coffee producer — read about their shade production, which incorporates Smithsonian Bird-Friendly criteria.
  • International Paper Company and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. For producing the first hot beverage cup made from fully renewable resources (ecotainer), a compostable corn-based material produced in a greenhouse-gas neutral manufacturing process.
  • SOPPEXCCA, Jinotega, Nicaragua. Cooperative alliance of coffee producers with many community initiatives, as well as a move from conventional to organic production.

Rainforest Alliance Green Globe Awards. RA honored companies which significantly advanced the goals set forth by the Rainforest Alliance and have integrated environmental and social sustainability into their work at their 20th anniversary gala last month. Honored were:

    • Caribou Coffee. Caribou has made a larger commitment than any other big coffee house to buying RA-certified beans, and they are up-front about exactly how much they use. By 2008, Caribou Coffee has pledged that 50 percent of its coffees will come from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms. Caribou Coffee’s lines that currently bear the seal, and the percentage certified in each blend include:    — Daybreak – 50 percent
      — Colombia – 100 percent
      — Guatemala El Socorro – 100 percent
      — Caribou Blend – 75 percent
      — Fireside Blend – 30 percent
      — Espresso Blend – 75 percent
      — French Roast Blend – 75 percent
      — Reindeer Blend – 30 percent
      — Perennial Blend – 30 percent
      — Amy’s Blend – 50 percent


  • NestlÁ© Nespresso SA. Okay, this is why I take a somewhat dim view of some of RA’s work. This recognition is for their AAA Sustainability Program. I’ve read through their whole web site, and the emphasis here is more on quality than environmental practices, and seems to lack stringent environmental criteria. Although this is a partnership with RA, it is not indicated that RA certification criteria are even required.  Some of the individual projects seem quite worthwhile. But even if we could agree that this particular program is completely righteous, it supplies 30% of Nespresso’s beans (50% by 2010).  Nespresso is a subsidiary of NestlÁ© and represents only a small amount of the total  beans purchased by this huge company which has a poor track record on many environmental issues, including pollution, water rights, and recycling (read more at Responsible Shopper).  I just can’t get behind rewarding a company like this unless they make an across-the-board effort to clean up their act.
  • Another award went to innocent, a UK smoothie brand.
Revised on July 8, 2021

Posted in Coffee and the environment,Coffee awards and competitions,Coffee news and miscellany

Previous post:

Next post: