When Hinterland made the decision to transition away from an apparel-centric business model to one that centers coffee, we knew we'd be doing so in a very “Hinterland-esque” way: maintaining our unwavering ethics and commitment to doing the most good and, crucially, least harm possible, both socially and environmentally. Sustainability is complex; it’s hard to create a neat, simple story out of it. As a result, it often fails to entice folx the same way that striking flavor profiles or low prices can.
Conscientious sourcing, whether it be coffee, apparel, or any number of other goods, empowers people, protects the environment, and provides a viable economic opportunity for communities growing or manufacturing the commodity in question.
While our coffee journey is still knee-high to a grasshopper, we did decide from the start to prioritize suppliers that sell organic, fair trade, direct trade, and Café Femenino beans. In the next few blog posts will focus on each designation and explore what it means, why it matters, and, in all self-awareness, how we as consumers can do and demand better.
The USDA Certified Organic designation is one that is perhaps most familiar to many of us since it also encapsulates lots of other food products and consumables. Any crop that is certified organic in the United States is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and must adhere to a number of predetermined standards, among them the prohibited use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, proximity of the organic crop to non-organic crops in the vicinity, and certain sustainable farming practices such as crop rotation that prevents soil depletion and erosion.
For the average American consumer, much of the concern over organic produce has to do with the most personally-affecting aspect: avoiding the ingestion of certain chemicals which are perceived to be harmful or whose effects are otherwise unknown. The thing about coffee is this: unlike a strawberry whose 45+ pesticides go down the hatch along with the fruit you intended to eat, conventionally-grown coffee offloads a majority of its residual pesticides during the roasting process, making for a relatively “clean” hot bean juice.
So why choose organic coffee? Because you give a shit about people and places outside of yourself and your immediate proximity. Duh!
Conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world. The synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides may not, for the most part, make their way into your cup, but they do saturate the land, air, and waterways, as well as workers’ bodies. Chemicals that kill “weeds, molds, and bugs” have broad-reaching implications for the entire ecosystem in which they are used and all of the biota that interact with them.
Choose organic, when you can, or choose us because we will always choose organic. Not for you (no offense) but for the farmers and their families, for coffee growing regions and surrounding communities. Because when we are well, we are well TOGETHER, from the most vulnerable and impacted on up, or nigh. ☠️
The Hinterland Crew
Contributions made here by either Trinia, Georgia or Alex.