We often hear about investments that pay dividends down the road, a one time cost of a commodity spreading over a much longer period makes the cost, not as intimidating. Making the most of what we have and tweaking it to suit us is the best way to go on with life sometimes and businesses are learning to apply that small lesson of frugality too.
The fact that climate change is real and happening is widely accepted, unless it's a few world leaders, most of us agree with that. In the coffee industry, sustainability is finding its little place, a valuable one at that. It would go without saying that if implemented properly, little changes add up to make a substantial difference in the coffee industry.
Few companies have already started taking those small steps towards a better tomorrow. Putting aside the idea of green-washing
Starbucks by replacing the straws with a less polluting alternative but not the plastic cup, the company has taken leaps and bounds in furthering the cause of sustainable farming.
The act of addressing the issue at heart as a phenomenon that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many is one of the things brands are trying to work the way around. Starbucks has been trying to cut their energy expenditure through various commitments, like the one to have more green stores and emphasise their dependence on renewable energy.
When a big company makes the shift into better practices, it starts a ripple effect where they become the market leader in changing the perception of the greener side of things. In that way, TATA has been the face of the switch to a better way of living in India. They operate on a freeze-dried instant coffee plant that is sourced with 70% renewable energy.
The one thing that we should learn from Tata is the way they plan, based on what the market wants and to do it without disrupting the way life in forests is, a little random and a little wild. Tata focuses on shade growing and vintage water management practices of rainwater harvesting, reducing their dependence on pumping water from groundwater resources.
Their strategy isn't to clear out forests to grow coffee but to grow coffee in the place where it seems the best, forests. The shade under the shimmering canopies helps the plants relieve the physiological stress caused by rising temperatures. They have been in the coffee business since 1922 and they are still learning, that's what sustainability is. You always learn. You're always learning.
Few companies nudge you into making a better choice and sometimes a few companies decide that you have to be better, Blue Bottle Coffee of Oakland has decided to do away with single-use cups and would have you rather bring your cup or put a deposit down for a reusable one. In the words of the CEO Bryan Meehan, "Blue Bottle is not trying to dictate how you live your life. Blue Bottle is trying to challenge you to think about your consumption". Resistance to change is normal and is nothing uncalled for, if this is a path that the whole industry takes it would stop a lot of vilification, a small cost of convenience is all it takes. Awareness isn't about walking down the path with posters and slogans against an imaginary villain, it is just about knowing what thing you should be doing when given a choice and then choosing to live that life, that choice. We might not be Tata but we hope there's a ripple effect too.
- Mani Varna from Wobh