Using Coffee to Preserve Rainforests

Most coffee drinkers are aware of the massive, unrelenting destruction of temperate and tropical rainforests around the world to satisfy our need for everything from cheap beef to paneling for the den. But are you aware that historically, large coffee "estates" (sounds better than plantation, doesn't it?) and many smaller ones have been carved from rainforests, as well, trading the rich ecological web of plants, animals and peoples for the profit from a single crop.

This process continues today in many coffee lands. In addition, the loss of forest cover inhibits our planet's ability to self-regulate the heat and moisture of the atmosphere, contributing to global warming and erratic weather patterns worldwide. At our end of the coffee cycle, roasting operations add heat and carbon dioxide to an already burdened atmosphere. At Dean's Beans, we recognize that our work impacts the intimate connection we have with the human, plant and animal communities of the coffee lands, as well as with the less obvious dynamics of our atmosphere. It is critical to us that our actions be taken with a consciousness of and respect for the larger systems within which we live.

To this end, we are continually revisiting how we show up in the world, and how our behavior reflects or varies from our values.

As most of our customers know, we only purchase organic coffee and only buy from cooperatives and small farms. Our purchasing insures that we do not contribute to the often indiscriminate use of toxic chemicals standard in the coffee world with its impact on the environment and public health. Further, small, organic farm operations are largely "shade-grown" (though not necessarily!), with interplanted fields supporting the complex ecology needed to sustain the local flora and fauna, as well as migratory species. We have also joined the efforts of the Global Classroom Project to protect and preserve endangered rainforest in Costa Rica. The area is to be known as the Aula Reserve, and close to one hundred acres has already been purchased and titled for the project. The reserve will not only preserve the forest from logging, grazing and other destructive activities, thereby protecting important habitat for jaguar, quetzal and many other species, but will also provide hands-on educational opportunities for students from around the world.

We purchased six of the acres for the reserve to date, repatriating the profits of the coffee world to protect the very forests it endangers. At home, we are also taking responsibility for our own impact on the atmosphere. Besides our extensive recycling, reuse and composting programs, we have recently installed an afterburner system that has virtually eliminated the smoke and particulate emissions that coffee roasting produces. Since this can only be accomplished using high temperature burners, we are designing a waste heat recycling system that will help heat our facility and lessen our use of natural gas. We are also working to calculate the total carbon load our operation creates, so that we might offset it with further tropical rainforest protection and hardwood planting at home. We cannot live a life without impact on our natural world. However, we can work towards a greater consciousness of our impacts, and take responsibility for them.

We welcome your input as to how we might achieve our goal of using great coffee to make the world a better place.

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