3 triple-certified coffees with an extra fun cause

BlogHer Original Post

Today marks not only Halloween, but also the last day of the Eat Local Challenge -- and the last day of Fair Trade Month too. So I thought it'd be the perfect day to highlight some of the most eco-ethical coffees out there to go with your local, organic meals or fair trade chocolate desserts. Here are 3 tasty coffees that are not only all triple certified -- but have an additional little story to make you feel good about what you're drinking while jolting you awake too.

Arbor Day coffeeArbor Day Specialty Coffee. Here's a coffee literal treehuggers will adore. Yes, it's organic certified, fair trade certified, and Smithsonian Bird-Friendly certified -- but the eco-goodness doesn't stop there. The proceeds from this coffee go directly to the Arbor Day Foundation's Rain Forest Rescue Program to preserve rain forests.

In fact, according to the foundation, a single cup of this coffee will preserve more than two square feet of rain forest! The coffee's crown by the ISMAM Co-op in Tapachula, Chiapas in Mexico. Take the online tour to see how the coffee gets from the sustainable forest to your cup.

Eco-altruism tastes good too. Coffee Review gave the Arbor Day Blend a 92 rating -- and having tried the yummy coffee myself, I'm seriously considering buying a membership to Coffee Club. That would get me a 10-ounce bag plus an Arbor Day mug for $6.95 -- with two more bags sent every four weeks at $8.95 per bag. You can also just buy a single 10-ounce bag for $8.95 if you want to try out the coffee for yourself -- or commit to the 5-pound bulk bag if you'd like to reduce packaging and shipping costs.

Little Feet coffeeLittle Feet Coffee. Athletes and sports fans -- This coffee's for you. If you've got fond memories of playing in Little League or other kid sports teams, here's your chance to give a little kid with fewer privileges a taste of the fun opportunities you got. Buy your morning brew from Little Feet Coffee Company, and you'll be helping to deliver soccer balls to underprivileged kids around the world.

The tasty coffee -- which Coffee Review rated an 88 -- is also impeccably eco-ethical, since it's shade-grown by the Las Capucas Cooperative in Honduras and organic, fair trade, and Rainforest Alliance-certified. But it's the soccer story that's really heartwarming. Yes, there is a girls' team!

I discovered Little Feed Coffee at Whole Foods, where a 12-ounce bag (also available online) costs $12. Right now, you can also get a bag of coffee with a soccer ball for $30. A monthly subscription program's also available, though it doesn't really save you money (12 ounces of coffee for $13.95 every month including shipping).

Caffe IbisCaffe Ibis' Cafe Femenino. Feminists who want to help underprivileged women succeed economically should brew this coffee as their morning pick me up. The Cafe Femenino Coffee Project's "a social program for women coffee producers in rural communities around the world," giving women economic power in what tends to be a male-dominated profession in male-centric places.

Cafe Femenino coffee's actually roasted and sold by a number of eco-ethical companies -- but Caffe Ibis adds a triple-certified element to the mix. As you can tell by the name of the company, Caffee Ibis is all about birds -- and offers a whole list of triple certified coffees -- organic, fair trade, and Smithsonian Bird Friendly certified -- to prove its feather-friendly commitment. Caffe Ibis' Cafe Femenino coffee's grown by woman-owned and operated farms in Peru. Get it online at $9.99 for a 12-ounce bag.

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Confused as to what all these certifications mean? Here's a quick guide:

>> Organic certification, whose guidelines in the U.S. are set by the USDA, basically ensures that dangerous pesticides weren't used in growing the coffee. Yes, there are many legitimate controversies about whether or not these standards are tough enough.

>> Fair Trade certification for coffee, provided in the U.S. by nonprofit TransFair USA, ensures that the coffee's grown by cooperative farms that receive a more economically sustainable price for their coffee and a social premium to invest in farmers' communities. Again, yes, there are many legitimate controversies about whether or not these standards are high enough. Some activists are pushing for higher minimum fair trade coffee prices, others for more co-op centric standards (tea producers, for ex, don't have to be organized into co-ops).

>> Smithsonian Bird Friendly certification ensures that the coffee's not only organic but also shade-grown -- with the money from certification fees going towards funding bird research. Word on the street is that this is one of the most expensive certification seals to get -- though also one of the most rewarding for bird and rain forest lovers.

>> Rainforest Alliance Certification provides some environmental guarantees -- but tends to be controversial as it makes vague economic and environmental promises without actually guaranteeing price premiums for farmers. While Rainforest Alliance certification helps some companies make greener steps, the certification program is often criticized for helping greenwash some of the biggest, most abusive corporations (Chiquita, Dole, Kraft) that refuse to commit to more stringent standards demanded by other certifications.

Related links:

>> EcoSaon's got a list of 18 favorite triple-certified coffees.

>> Sally Kneidel at Wellsphere's Green Living Community has a list of bird-friendly chocolate and coffee.

>> Gina Telaroli at Take Part put together a shortlist of restaurants and retailers carrying fair trade products.
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BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at greenLAgirl.com.

Images via Arbor Day Foundation, Little Feet, and Caffe Ibis

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