International Coffee Day: Wake Up And Smell A Sustainable Future

Alina Gross

How many times have you been told, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my first cup of coffee.” Thanks in part to this early morning ritual, it should come as no surprise that coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Since today is “International Coffee Day,” let’s take a moment to celebrate the impact of coffee on society and how its continued vitality depends on a sustainable future.

A lifestyle for millennials

Coffee has never been more popular with an estimated three billion cups consumed every day, a number which continues to rise. Whether your favorite brew comes from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Hortons, McCafe, or your local barista, coffee is a fashion accessory and a trademark. Many millennial consumers are initiated into coffee drinking by their culture, which is broadcasted far and wide throughout social media. Ultimately, many young consumers want to be a part of something bigger than themselves – and once a product becomes representative of a lifestyle, it can be extremely seductive.

I have to admit that I only slowly start drinking coffee myself, and I still like it best with lots of milk and sugar or even syrup. For many, one or even two or three black coffees are simply required in the morning, an espresso after lunch, and then more cups of the caffeinated hot drink in the afternoon. And let’s not forget a frozen, iced, or cold brew coffee on a hot day.

The supply chain of coffee: From bean to cup

What’s also noticeable is that many young people pay attention to the origin of the coffee and attach importance to whether the beans were planted and harvested under fair conditions – even if that means paying a higher price.

There are different stages that form the coffee-making process: growing, harvesting, hulling, drying and packing, bulking, blending, and roasting. The entire supply chain is further extended by several intermediaries, including global transporters as well as exporters and retailers.

In many stages of the supply chain, sustainability can be consciously taken into account. A sustainable supply chain extends from sustainable cultivation, through harvesting, to green distribution and fair purchase of the bean. An essential part also is social responsibility towards all involved in the chain – first and foremost the small farmers.

Fair-trade coffee

International Coffee Day is also about the necessity of fair-trade coffee and aims to raise public awareness of the working conditions of coffee farmers. The contents of  fair-trade standards are focused on social, ecological, and economic impact.

This approach strengthens the position of coffee farmers and coffee sustainability to address, among others, the prohibition of child labor and discrimination and regulated working conditions. New farming methods can also be explored to ensure more environmentally friendly and sustainable cultivation, the elimination of pesticides and genetic modifications, and the protection of natural resources. Plus, from an economic point of view, pre-financing through small loans, transparency of the flow of goods and money and payment of regulated minimum prices and premiums are considered.

Fairly traded, sustainably grown coffee prevents overexploitation of the environment and ensures the survival of an intact ecosystem for future generations. The conscious, responsible use of resources encompasses all levels and extends to people and nature.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, “Sustainable Design: The Key To Unlocking A Sustainable Future,” companies must make a major contribution toward a sustainable future. But we as individuals must also contribute sustainability by choosing, for example, sustainably produced coffee on today and years to come.

Creating a sustainable future for our customers and society is also SAP’s focus. For more information, visit SAP Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Furthermore, download the IDC report “Leveraging Your Intelligent Digital Supply Chain to find out about the options available to your organization to increase sustainability.

This article originally appeared on Forbes SAP BrandVoice.


Alina Gross

About Alina Gross

Alina Gross holds a BA in international business and is currently deepening her knowledge by adding an MA in international marketing management. As a working student at SAP she focuses on marketing and project management topics within the field of supply chain, especially around content marketing, event management and social media.