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6Our favorite coffee when we visited Costa Rica was Cafe Britt. We did visit and toured a coffee plantation on our Hawaiian tour.

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WHAT’S IN A COFFEE FARM?

July 2016

   
What's a Coffee Farm

Have you ever been sipping a delicious cup of Joe and thought to yourself where on earth did this heavenly beverage come from? We’ve all been there and Britt is here to help answer this burning question. Coffee grows on coffee plantations, each with it’s own style and culture. Here’s an inside look at what some of the plantations we work with look like. Warning: looking at these pictures may make you want to drop everything and visit Costa Rica immediately.


Plantions in general

Costa Rica has the ideal environment for coffee growth and production so there are a lot of coffee plantations around the country


Green mountain scene
Coffee plantations with mountains behind

 

 

Plants

The coffee beans used in your favorite blend are grown on these shrubs.


Coffee plants
Coffee Pickers

During harvest season (November to February) the farms fill with coffee pickers who often live with their families in houses on the plantation until the season ends.


Person picking coffee
Trees

Costa Rican coffee is shade grown meaning it (you guessed it) often grows under the shade of the large trees and foliage of the area.


Bananas on a tree
Animals

It’s not just coffee pickers who make their home on plantations. You’ll also see lots of animals and insects.


Bird in tree
Fruits

Coffee beans aren’t the only thing growing here, there’s also an abundance of fresh fruit. Bananas? Guayabas? You choose!


Women holding guavas
Coffee Mill
Coffee mill
Chancadora

This large machine removes the pulp from the outside of the coffee bean to prepare it for roasting.


Equipment at a coffee mill
Coffee Patio

A large space where the beans are left to dry after being washed.


People moving drying coffee on a coffee patio
Green beans

It may not look like much, but these little green beans are ready to be roasted!


Person handling green coffee beans
Coffee Storage

The beans are placed in storage until it is time for them to be roasted and enjoyed by people around the world.


Coffee in burlap Cafe Britt coffee bags
 

 

 
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The ad above partly tells the story. Organic and fair trade coffee help improve these working conditions. In some coffee growing areas the working conditions are improving.

Coffee’s bitter side: addressing labor conditions

Farmer

A farmer in Colombia’s Nariño Department checks his coffee bushes. (© Neil Palmer, CIAT)

Editor’s note: September 29 marks National Coffee Day in the U.S. Throughout the month of September, Human Nature is publishing a special series of reports on the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a coalition working to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product. This post is the third in the series.

The coffee sector has a labor problem – or maybe multiple labor problems.

Pruning and weeding of coffee trees, and picking the ripe cherries, is all done by hand on the vast majority of farms, and this labor accounts for up to 60 percent of production costs. Meanwhile, climate change, disease outbreaks and price fluctuations can disrupt traditional labor patterns and lead to labor shortages and create conditions for poor labor practices.

So we have to ask the question: Who is picking our coffee?

 

Unfortunately, it’s sometimes children. Coffee features prominently among the 75 agricultural commodities listed by the U.S. Department of Labor of goods produced by child or forced labor; the list cites child labor in the coffee-growing areas of 14 countries. Recommendations for companies to prevent these labor abuses include voluntary programs that are often expensive and difficult to implement.

Sometimes, it’s people living and working in poor conditions. Last year, an investigative report revealed “conditions analogous to slavery” in some Brazilian coffee farms, affecting some major retailers.

Sadly, the issue isn’t new and it’s not unique to coffee — but attempts to address it have largely been fragmented and insufficient to tackle the issue at scale.

Enter the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a collaboration of over 80 actors from across the coffee sector working to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product.

SAVE COFFEE

Donate to help make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product.

“Most discussions of labor begin with the needs and vulnerabilities of workers, but farm owners also face challenges including paper-thin or non-existent profit margins between the wages they pay workers and the sale price that they receive for their coffee, as well as the availability of farm workers during the peak of the coffee harvest,” explained Kim Elena Ionescu, Chief Sustainability Officer at SCA.

To keep labor at the forefront of the coffee sustainability conversation, SCA has made it one of the key focus areas for Avance, the association’s first sustainability conference, being held in Guatemala City on October 11th and 12th. It was important, Ionescu said, to have these difficult conversations in a place coffee is produced — with the people producing the coffee.

As companies along the coffee value chain commit to sustainable sourcing as part of the Challenge, the focus is increasingly on labor issues. While still in its relatively early stages, the Challenge aims to be a powerful platform for improving labor conditions in coffee.

To start, it is shedding light on efforts underway by the sector to address labor conditions and to understand the thicket of laws and legal frameworks that govern — or in fact, don’t — farm labor in the countries where coffee is produced.

“Coffee presents an economic development opportunity for many communities across the tropics — but it must benefit the entire community – including the farm workers who arrive during the harvest to pick the coffee,” said Bambi Semroc, senior strategic adviser at Conservation International, a member of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge. “Addressing labor conditions is critical, yet probably one of the greatest challenges — not just for coffee but for the entire agricultural sector.”

The goal, Semroc says, is to develop guidance and tools that enable the coffee sector to pinpoint potential labor hotspots and to align on joint actions. When taken at scale, these steps will help to professionalize coffee labor in a way that enhances quality and creates a pathway to prosperity for coffee workers and their families.

Sophie Bertazzo is a senior editor at Conservation International.

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LOVE THE ROOSTER-ONE OF MY NEIGHBORS HAS ROSTERS WHICH OFTEN WALK ACROSS MY YARD( TO GET TO THE YARD ON THE OTHER SIDE!) ONE IS BIG & WHITE- I CALL HIM "FOGHORN LEGHORN"& IT ALWAYS GIVES ME A SMILE. I LOVE YOUR GIANT TECHNICOLOR ROOSTER!
SUPERGIRL, NO REALLY I MEAN IT! HER REAL NAME & MINE ARE THE SAME( FIRST 2 NAMES ARE)
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RiSE AND SHINE I'TS COFFEE TIME ❣
GOOD MONDAY MORNING MY COFFEE LOVING FRIENDS ❣
Y'ALL HAVE AN AWESOME DAY ❣ DRINK LOTS OF COFFEE TODAY ❣
MAY YOUR COFFEE BE STRONG AND YOUR MONDAY BE SHORT ❣

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GREETINGS,

I AM GOING TO A COFFEE TASTING TODAY WITH THE VISITING PUPS. SO GLAD THE SEALS SENT ME DIFFERENT COFFEES, NOW I WILL BE ABLE TO TELL THE COFFEES APART. PLUS, DAVE POSTED THE HISTORY OF COFFEE. I SHOULD BE VERY PREPARED. IF NOT THE PUPS ARE SO TRAINED. I WILL GET POINTS FOR THEM.....NANCY

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I LOVE STRONG COFFEE- HAVE DRUNK FRENCH ROAST SINCE MID-80'S. ONLY COFFEES STRONGER WOULD BE TURKISH OR ETHIOPIAN. A LOT OF WHAT'S SOLD THESE DAYS THAT PURPORTS TO BE "FRENCH ROAST" ISN'T. TURKISH MAYBE? STRONG IS GOOD! ENJOY-& "WAKE UP & SMELL THE COFFEE" AS ANN LANDERS WOULD SAY!
SUPERGIRL, NO REALLY I MEAN IT! HER REAL NAME & MINE ARE THE SAME( FIRST 2 NAMES ARE)
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I JUST OPENED UP ANOTHER TYPE OF COFFEE THE SEALS SENT ME. A TURISH  BLEND. EVERY DIFFERENT FROM EVERYTHING I HAVE TASTED BEFORE... SINCE I WATCHING 4 FUR BABIES, I NEEDED ALL THE BOOSTING THIS COFFEE SUPPLIES.... NANCY

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