The American love affair with coffee continues to grow, sparked by the advent of Starbucks and its many competitors. In spite of these purveyors pushing drinks laced with enormous amounts of syrups, creams, and foams, they have been successful in sophisticating our palettes and expanding our knowledge of coffee. Coffee is no longer a generic food; it is now defined by growing region, roasting method, and depth of flavor. Coffee is a complex, multi-categorized item, much like wine.
I recently met the owners of Caffe Ibis Coffee Roasting Company, which has taken coffee to a new level of distinction: “Tripled Certified Coffee”. The first of the three levels is organic. Sure, we have been able to buy organic coffee for some time. That is no longer that rare. But why is organic important? Well, first of all, if you don’t mind consuming pesticides and other nasty chemicals, then never mind. If, instead, you care about the environment and your health, then drinking organic coffee is a must. Corporate farmers, who bought up land in coffee-producing countries, brought with them an arsenal of bad chemicals, including synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and nematocides, all negatively impacting the local ecosystem. A coffee bean is not protected from the effects of these chemicals and neither are you!
Much of the poisons used in farming washes into the water system, eventually getting into our bodies. According to the Smithsonian, “On a global scale, more than five billion pounds of conventional pesticides are used annually for agricultural purposes, forest and rangeland management, and disease control, as well as in homes, and on lawns, gardens, golf courses, and other private properties.” Organic products don’t require these toxins.
The second level of certification is fair traded. For the past several years, we have seen fair traded coffee (as well as tea), supporting farms that promote positive business practices, including treating their workers respectably. One of the coffees sold by Caffe Ibis is from the Cafe Femenino Coffee Project, a cooperative of at least 464 women coffee farmers who sell their coffee as a “women only” produced product. This effort allows these women to improve work and living conditions for female coffee workers in developing countries, who are often abused at an alarming rate. I think that is a really cool project for Caffe Ibis to support.
The third level (one I have never heard of before) is “Bird Friendly”. Caffe Ibis seeks out coffees that have been certified as “Bird Friendly” by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (http://nationalzoo.si.edu/ConservationAndScience/MigratoryBirds/Coffee/lover.cfm). Such certified producers must produce both organic and shade-grown coffee. Shade grown coffee is becoming less common. Before the days of big business in the coffee farms, all coffee was shade grown. Then in 1972, some science nerd misfits invented hybrid varieties of coffee trees that yielded much higher production quantities. All these profit minded idiots wanted was more beans, feeling that pumping up the yields would produce better coffee. (I guess they never studied the work of wine growers, who learned that lower yields actually produce better wine.) These hybrid plants produced much high quantities of smaller beans, making the harvest easier. These new beans also didn’t need protection from the sun. These new trees, however, are not only bad for the land, as they promote ground runoff, they are also bad for the migratory birds, which need shade to rest and live. The proliferation of the corporate producers has made migratory bird populations suffer, negatively impacting the ecosystem. So while you are enjoying your cup of ordinary coffee, imagine that poor songbird without a place to land. You can be so insensitive, at times!
But, with its triple certified coffee, Caffe Ibis is able to distinguish itself as one of the most responsible coffee producers around. And, here’s the real kicker. They make great tasting coffee. Go figure!! The flavors are deep and intense, with the natural oils very evident even in the smell. Based in Logan, Utah, Caffe Ibis roasts its coffees at high altitudes and in cool climates. This process takes longer than traditional roasting, resulting in its deeper flavor.
Where can you find Caffe Ibis? Many Whole Foods Markets carry the brand. You can also buy Caffe Ibis online at https://caffeibis.com/. Taste some really delicious coffee that truly makes a positive difference in the world.