It is heartbreaking to watch the fires burn in Amazon over the last few weeks - due in part - to ranchers slashing back the rainforest to graze more cattle.
I've spent the last two and a half weeks in Ethiopia, visiting our roastery colleagues in Addis Ababa before heading up to the coffee farmers in the Limu region. This is a mountainous region where coffee grows mainly in forests and given it's rainy season, the challenges for local farmers are more apparent than ever.
Here in Ethiopia deforestation has also been devastating. Over the past 20 years a quarter of the country’s forests have been cut down, mostly by poor farmers seeking firewood and the chance to earn a little more by selling charcoal. But the coffee industry is also behind this destruction.
Coffee and Forests
With coffee prices low and demand growing in the global north, many farmers are burning and chopping down forests to create coffee fields.The 25% of Ethiopia's forests I mentioned that have been lost in the last 20 years is enough trees to offset the carbon every year produced by the Netherlands - or three times what Ireland produces each year.
Growing coffee in fields in the sun offers farmers much bigger harvests. A coffee tree grown in a field can yield three times as many coffee cherries as a coffee shrub in the forest. But forest grown coffee gives so much more; providing shelter and a home to hundreds of species of birds, bees and other insects while protecting the soil, water and improving air quality.
Sadly just 4% of coffee in the world comes from forests but you can help producers in the industry to protect forest ecosystems by choosing shade-grown and forest-grown coffee when you can.
Taking Action: Planting Trees for Living Income
The Ethiopian government's day of action in July to plant millions of trees around the country is an important first step in taking steps to stop deforestation here.
Poverty, particularly for coffee farmers, plays a role in deforestation and ultimately climate change.
Moyee and the FairChain foundation recently launched our One Million Tree revolution to empower coffee customers to plant coffee trees using blockchain tokens.
In Dublin during the month of August, we've partnered with FoodSpace Ireland to allow eBay staff members in their HQ to a plant coffee treeby scanning a QR code token after they buy our coffee. Soon they'll receive an email with a geo-tag location in Ethiopia where the tree was planted as well as details of the coffee farmer who received it.
And this is a money-making tree. Each coffee tree planted generates an extra €10 in income for the coffee farmer and stores 25 kg of carbon dioxide. This helps our work to increase household income from about €400 to over €1,000 a year from coffee.
Connecting Coffee Drinkers and Producers
We're looking to scale this impact in the coming year; connecting coffee drinkers in Ireland with coffee farmers and producers in Ethiopia, Kenya and soon Colombia. Importantly, we see this process as connecting consumers with the change they want to see in the world.
Are you on board? Drop us a line and see how you can help.
Killian Stokes is a co-founder of Moyee Coffee in Ireland.