What we mean when we say quality
Maybe it was before we came of age, before we lost our innocence, before we knew that climate change was the greatest threat, not just a threat to some random or vague biodiversity, but to our lives. Climate change is also threatening the production of coffee, the world´s second most traded commodity, after petroleum if you can read that without the irony choking you. Maybe before this awakening we thought conservation was enough; Let´s help save some of the beautiful bits of the world and the rest will sort itself out… Now, and with every new day, we know that it´s time to pass from nature conservation to nature restoration if we want to stand a chance. Bill McKibben´s elegant carbon math makes it ever more clear… 350 parts per million of CO2 is the limit where we can keep enjoying a stable climate, and all the benefits and joys of modern living, like incredible specialty coffee from all over the world. This hits us harder and harder as citizens, as parents as people who care: September, 2016, saw us pass 400 parts per million, perhaps permanently. It´s time to do more! The atmosphere needs to be cleaned up, and land restoration is one way, even if a humble way, to do it. What we are doing and showing here at our Cloud Forest Coffee Farms is that you can produce great coffee while restoring and at the same, create jobs and bolster a local economy. Another way to think about this distinction perhaps is simply ‘old and new economy’, during and after the age of climate innocence. The new economy does not consider the possibility of doing damage to the natural ecological succession or forest succession process as part of its productive processes, rather on the contrary. Even if nature is always under pressure from human activities and resources are scare, our new formula considers the organic process as the beginning point where with minimum external inputs we are working to build rich soils and forest stocks, in and around coffee plantations. We´re storing carbon in the trees, carbon in the soil and carbon in the rest of the biomass found in biodiverse cloudforest, bromeliads, orchids, mosses, ferns, you name it. This earth first approach to quality is reflected in the cup scores and other, objective, specialty evidence we are producing. Turns out that coffee from shade and from higher altitudes ends up tasting better. It is better. We see this as a step beyond being responsible or having a sense of giving back, like we hear so often. This isn´t just giving back but is about actually creating a living possibility, the possibility for life. Sounds lovely but maybe there are skeptics out there, so as we´ve just finished our 2016 harvest, we are also beginning to organize our organic certification, such that before too long we will have one more piece of objective evidence to show our friends and customers, as if the mind blowing green where we work weren´t enough.