Yerba mate fans have been growing rainforests with Guayaki's pick-me-up drinks — and now, coffee addicts can join in the leafy fun with their morning brew. Tiny Footprint Coffee offers organic, fair trade coffee — and plants a carbon-sucking tree for every pound of beans sold!
That green practice makes Tiny Footprint Coffee the world's first carbon-negative coffee, according to the company. How so? Shipping and roasting a pound of coffee puts four pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) into the atmosphere — while planting a fast-growing tree in the Ecuadorian cloudforest removes 54 pounds of CO2e. Tiny Footprint Coffee says that is 50 pounds of negative carbon goodness per pound of coffee sold.
Of course, the calculations aren't that simple. First of all, planted trees need to be sucking up CO2 for 20 years to get to that 54-pound figure. Plus, a lot more is involved in the carbon footprint of coffee than just the shipping and roasting. At your home, for example, you'll be grinding those coffee beans and brewing your drink — a process that creates between 0.04 to 0.7 pounds (21g to 340g) of CO2e, depending how you heat your water and what you add to your drink, according to The Guardian. Since every pound of coffee makes about 50 cups of coffee, you have to factor in between 2.3 to 35 more pounds of CO2e emissions per pound of coffee you buy.
And of course, those numbers don't include the carbon footprint of growing that cup of coffee, a figure that can vary widely depending on the farming practices. Luckily, Tiny Footprint Coffee is all organic and 90 percent fair trade certified. The other 10 percent? "Our non-certified fair-trade coffees come from small family farms not eligible for fair-trade certification because they are not part of a large growing cooperative, but they grow beautiful, premium sustainable coffees that we pay above fair trade price floors to obtain," says Kyle Meehan, project manager of Tiny Footprint Coffee. "We always purchase sustainably grown organic coffees but do not limit our reach to only certified fair trade coffees."
The organic coffee is indeed delicious. I tried Tiny Footprint Coffee's fair trade Dark Sumatra; the intense, rich aroma and earthy, smoky taste will please dark roast fans. But when it comes down to the carbon negative claims, Tiny Footprint Coffee's CO2e calculations are — as most Co2e calculations are — very rough. And the company's eco-claims are difficult to compare to other coffees that plant trees.
To put Tiny Footprint Coffee's eco-claims in simpler terms, the company plants a tree per pound of coffee sold. Those trees are planted in the cloudforests of Ecuador's Mindo region through a partnership with the environmental nonprofit Mindo Cloudforest Foundation. So if you'd like to know your pound of organic, fair trade coffee resulted in a tree being planted in Equador, opt for Tiny Footprint Coffee, available at Amazon in bulk 2- to 3-pound bags for about $10 to $12 a pound.