On the societal impacts of giving up caffenaited drinks

I tried to to find research about the overall effects of coffee drinking and whether it would be more sustainable to give up drinking coffee altogether or just consume fair trade coffee. I did not succeed in my quest. There were studies comparing the impact of drinking coffee to tea and the effects of different ways of cultivating coffee. Examples were given on how to improve one´s sustainability, for instance if you switch to tea from coffee your negative impact is halved. But there was no information on the possible beneficial effects of coffee  and tea cultivation for the local people.  I was left wondering if it would have a negative social impact for the farmers to  consuming caffeinated drinks altogether. Would the farmers lose their jobs? Would I be taking the bread off their table by attempting to minimize my carbot footprint? How can different aspects of sustainability be compared against each other? Or can they?

  1. Considering what a monumental task it would be to make such assessments, I’m not terribly surprised you did not find much. One of those issues that has surely made people wonder what the state of the matter is, but which is at the same time quite complex. In order to make such an assessment possible, you would have to find some way of comparing, for example, the social benefits for the farmers and the environmental problems caused by coffee along the value chain. The moral implications that come along are probably enough to deter most researchers 🙂

  2. annasofiah said:

    This is surely a very tricky subject. We once did a course report on coffee production and you can actually find surprisingly much information, but as Sarri stated it is difficult to find any trustable and more importantly objective studies on this matter. Nevertheless, our conclusion was that it was better for the local people, in some cases even for the trafficked children, that they are working on the coffee farms and thus having a place to stay and food to eat, as they might even be the providers of the families back in their home country. So it really is a tough cookie to value and compare different aspects of sustainability. When thinking about the triple bottom line, it is rather easy to understand the importance of all three parts, but when taking the local people’s point of view who are dependent on coffee producing, the social aspect quickly becomes the number one.

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