Although the concept of ethically and ecologically conscious coffee has been around for decades, the significance of supporting companies whose business models employ such standards is often undervalued.
Some reports suggest that coffee is the second largest commodity in the world with more than two billion cups of coffee consumed every day, and while it can be easy to overlook the gravity of that statistic on its surface, the commercialization of the coffee industry has also made it one of the world’s largest carbon impact foods.
By supporting companies who commit to transparency, single-origin beans, and building equitable long term relationships with its farmers and producers, Canadians can enjoy their cup of joe knowing their purchase promotes a sustainable and socially responsible standard in an industry in dire need of change.
49th Parallel Coffee (Vancouver, B.C.)
Since opening its first location in Vancouver back in 2004, 49th Parallel has become one of Canada’s most iconic coffee roasters and cafe chains. Through its Crop to Cup model, 49th Parallel commits to creating long term relationships with its producers, while constantly looking for innovative ways to become more ecologically sustainable.
Ethical Bean Coffee (Vancouver, B.C.)
The aptly-named Vancouver-based coffee company offers ethically-sourced coffee that is both fairtrade and organic certified. Along with providing QR codes on each bag to trace the coffee’s exact origin, Ethical Bean ensures each bag is produced with practices that promote ecological balance, biodiversity, and organic farming methods.
If that wasn’t enough, the company also donates a portion of its annual proceeds to Guatemalan non-profit organizations and participates in various local community initiatives and events.
Kicking Horse Coffee (Invermere, B.C.)
This Rocky Mountain-based coffee company has been a global leader in the production of ethical and sustainable coffee for more than 25 years. Kicking Horse’s coffee is roasted on location in Invermere and is made with 100 per cent organic certified and fair trade Arabica beans.
Wayne and Freda (Penticton, B.C.)
Wayne and Freda owners Jen and Ryan Hawk partner directly with farmers in South America, Central America, and Africa to produce coffee made from top grade, fair trade, and single-origin coffee beans.
In addition to thorough tasting notes, each of the roasts on offer at Wayne and Freda also come complete with a comprehensive breakdown about the production process and the farmers themselves.
Calgary Heritage Roasting Co. (Calgary, AB)
In addition to their unique brand of green coffee beans being Rainforest Alliance, direct trade, and USDA organic certified, former firefighters turned entrepreneurs Mike Wenzlawe and Jamie Parker are committed to planting one tree for every 340g bag of coffee sold. In 2020 alone, Calgary Heritage Roasting Co. planted a total of 30,600 trees on Canadian soil.
Common Grounds Coffee (Calgary, AB)
Common Grounds is a non-profit company that believes in building meaningful relationships with developing coffee regions of Southeast Asia who are committed to producing ethically and sustainably-sourced coffee.
The Calgary-based company also supports a number of local and international charitable organizations and commits to donating 50 per cent of monthly net profits to various anti-trafficking organizations.
Road Coffee Co. (Saskatoon, SK)
Saskatoon-based Road Coffee Co. implements its own BeyondFair program which, as the name suggests, employs an ethos that goes beyond certifications like fair trade, direct trade, and organic.
Not only are Road Coffee’s beans ethically and sustainably sourced, the BeyondFair program removes unnecessary middlemen from the supply chain and allows Road Coffee to provide both liveable wages and manageable micro-loans directly to its partnering smallholder farmers.
Sisters’ Story Coffee (Guelph, ON)
Along with the incorporation of values that include fair trade, mutual aid, equity, and diversity, the recently-launched Sisters’ Story Coffee purchases its beans exclusively from farms owned and operated by Indigenous women in the Andes of Northern Peru.
In keeping with its mission to empower and support women across borders and within local communities, 15 per cent of each online sale is allocated to a participating Canadian women’s shelter or sexual assault centre of the purchaser’s choice.
Pilot Coffee Roasters (Toronto, ON)
This multiple award-winning Toronto-based company has been committed to sourcing ethical, direct trade coffee beans and building transparency in the farm to cup process since 2009.
Pilot works closely with the farmers it partners with to build long lasting relationships and guarantees its farmers a purchase price that is at least 25% above the Fair Trade price.
Dispatch Coffee (Montreal, QC)
Dispatch Coffee’s mission is to provide Canadians a responsibly-sourced and transparent coffee option that reinforces a positive social and environmental impact, while promoting practices that directly support small scale farmers from over thirteen countries (71 per cent smallholder farmers and 45 per cent women-driven business).
Through its monthly subscription program, Dispatch aims to modernize Canadian caffeine consumption by providing a more sustainable, transparent and high quality coffee offering than the traditional model.