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Organic Coffee Suppliers – Is Sustainability Your Key To Success?

  • 6 min read

The team here at Owens Coffee could not be more excited to see our trade customers back in business following a very difficult couple of years. With our suppliers spread throughout the South West, and more recently expanding into the rest of the UK, our reach is growing. This reflects consumer trends and the ever-growing demand for a sustainable lifestyle.

As the UK hospitality industry continues to benefit from stay at home vacations and independent retailers have seen increasing support for 'supporting local businesses', we want to share some of the reasons why you should consider making organic coffee a part of your year.

The UK leading the way for organic coffee

The United Kingdom is one of the largest coffee consumers within Europe, with the continuous growth of coffee shops resulting in 25,892 outlets in 2019. Us Brits are also one of the leading markets for sustainable coffee, being the top European market for both Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certifications.

Buy organic products

Statistics provided by the Soil Association reported that in 2020, consumers spent over £50 million a week on organic products, an increase of 12.6%! At the beginning of 2020, 41% of people agreed that buying organic items was good for sustainability, which then increased to 50% by July. The global pandemic has only served to increase organic spend, as consumers associate organic with health, something which has become increasingly important due to the events of the last year.

Outside of the environmental and social benefits of organic coffee that we will outline below, tapping into consumer trends and profiting as a result would persuade even the least convinced of business owners to begin using organic coffee suppliers! In 2020, Owens Coffee had to switch focus from our hospitality trade (effectively shut down due to lockdown restrictions), to giving consumers better opportunities to buy our coffee directly from us. We saw for ourselves the scale of public demand as our consumer sales increased by 171% (Qtr 1 2021 compared to Qtr 1 2020).

Consumer demand for organic products reaches new heights

Our appetite for coffee here in the UK has only increased in recent years – despite the inability for many coffee shops to stay open during restrictions due to the pandemic, numerous coffee start-ups have popped up throughout the country. The number of 'mobile coffee shops' has soared, with entrepreneurs taking advantage of this new gap in the market. People value a good cup of coffee now more than ever, and with organic sales hitting a 15-year high as COVID shines a light on environmental issues, there has never been a better time to stock organic coffee.

Recent research has confirmed the effect of the pandemic on consumer behaviour – a third of UK respondents value ethical practices in the products and services they buy, and over a third of consumers said they were likely to buy locally sourced items. This change is even more prevalent in the younger generations, with climate change being cited as one of their top concerns both during and after the pandemic.

Climate change

Eateries can take advantage of this heightened level of awareness, and increase their desirability by affirming their commitment to environmental issues. If your spend on organic produce is more than 15% you are eligible to apply for Soil Association Organic certification. This would increase both customer footfall and loyalty among those who value sustainability practices in the products they buy. Certification positions you as a business that cares, which will attract people with aligned values who want somewhere they can trust.

You position yourself as a sustainability champion

Whether you are a foodservice customer local to us in the South West, or a business or consumer further afield, wherever you go you will see evidence of the growing desire for sustainability. With the number of people prioritising sustainability increasing with the younger generations, it's important to show that you are purpose-driven as well as profit-driven.

Customer loyalty will soar, as people increasingly turn to businesses that can provide trust, safety, and transparency. The Social Association reported that people value integrity now more than ever, and this is only expected to increase as time goes on.

You help both people and planet

The effect of pesticides on the communities that grow the coffee is no secret. The chemicals creep into their water, their crops, and into the air they breathe, and can be connected to a host of health problems down the line. Being exposed daily to pesticides, on top of not being paid a fair wage, is not a fair life for the farmers to live.

By simply choosing organic over standard coffee, you will be helping coffee farmers live a healthier life, ensuring that they aren't spending their working days exposed to chemicals that shouldn’t be anywhere near a person's lungs. Our coffee is Fairtrade, meaning the farmers are paid what is called a ‘Fairtrade Minimum Price.’ This is designed to fully cover a certified coffee producer for its production costs, as well as providing cover for any market dips. Fairtrade certification also means that a percentage of profits is put back into the coffee business to enhance productivity or quality. In addition, the Fairtrade Premium is paid on top of the Fairtrade Minimum Price to support producers and their families with training and help in expanding their business operations.

If you were thinking 'if the chemicals are that bad for people, surely they are not good for the planet, either?' You'd be correct! The rain washes away the pesticides which can contaminate the natural water sources.

Man smiling and drinking from Fairtrade coffee mug

Buy from organic coffee suppliers for shade-grown beans

Coffee is a plant that, traditionally, thrives underneath lots of foliage and big, sheltering trees. A new strain of coffee exists that can be ‘sun-grown,' meaning farmers can cut down a lot of the plants they would usually keep, to make space for more coffee. More coffee equals more money, which is the only option when those who purchase the coffee do not pay the farmers fairly.

A whole host of negative events happen when ecosystems are destroyed:

  • Canopies like the ones found above shade-grown coffee are crucial habitats for wildlife, in particular certain species of birds and monkeys who will not travel across gaps for fear of predators. It’s never good news for the animals when the forests are cut down. With shade-grown coffee, the ecosystems are left to thrive, with minimal disruption.
  • The presence of other plants among coffee plants acts as a natural pest-deterrent, reducing the need for pesticides. Coffee grown in monocultures is exposed to a much higher number of pests, which is why sun-grown coffee is almost never organic.
  • Deforestation disrupts the communities that live amongst these biodiverse regions, forcing them to relocate often. 
  • On a smaller but no less important scale, the emissions from the machinery used to cut down the trees add to the carbon content of the planet, as well as making the living conditions for the workers worse. 
  • Forests contribute hugely to the reduction of global warming and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, so much so that they are called 'carbon sinks.' When the coffee you buy is sun-grown and is grown at the expense of the forests, the carbon dioxide has nowhere to go but back up into the atmosphere. 

Shade grown coffee

Organic coffee is mostly produced by shade-grown coffee farms. And when you buy shade-grown, none of these negative events happen. The wildlife is left to thrive, the farmers experience little disruption from deforestation, and the forested coffee farms retain their natural ability to handle diverse weather conditions. It’s a safer choice for the farmers, and for the planet. 

Unrivalled taste

We all want to have a delicious cup of coffee – that determines where our money goes, and it's a bonus if the brand has strong values. Owens Coffee has won numerous awards, including the UK’s Best Organic Coffee at the Soil Association BOOM Awards and Great Taste Awards. This, combined with strong eco-credentials will morph paying customers into loyal fans.

The longer coffee beans are left to ripen, the richer their taste. Owens Organic Coffee is left to grow at its natural pace, lacking the conventional pesticides that speed up the process, resulting in a smoother taste.

Whether you mind about the smoothness of your drink or not, knowing you are drinking from a cup of coffee that protects the planet and the people that grow it will mean you'd be hard-pushed to find a cup that makes you feel better.

Choosing Owens as your organic coffee supplier or supporting your local coffee shop that stocks our products, means you can sip your cuppa knowing you're making a difference.

Not many coffee companies can say that, can they?

So you want to choose an organic coffee supplier?

Sustainability issues can start to become overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin. Purchasing Owens Organic Coffee is a simple, yet incredibly effective place to start. 

Waiter serving organic coffee

If you are a company in the business of selling coffee, get in touch with us today to find out about how we can be a part of your path to a more sustainable business – we are always on the lookout for the opportunity to spread the joy of an ethical cup of coffee.

For coffee lovers looking to purchase our beans, we’ve compiled a list of our retail stockists, too – don’t forget to save the list in time for your next outing!

If you’d like to find out more about our coffee, and the people who grow it, take a look at this blog post.



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