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Over the duration of this series, I've talked a lot about "moving along the continuum" or "moving along the spectrum" in reference to how we think about sustainability. I'd like to dive into this idea a little deeper, because it applies to how we think about a lot of things Counter Culture—not just sustainability.

Whether it's rolling out a new employee program or buying a coffee for the first time, we realize that not everything's going to be perfect at the outset of a project or relationship. There's a lot of grey area between black and white, and that leaves room for recognizing potential and working on continuous improvement. In an effort to make this less of an abstract idea, I want to spend the next few posts giving tangible examples of where we've been able to work successfully in this grey area to successfully move along the spectrum towards more sustainable practices. I'll start this exploration with a few internal projects where movement along the spectrum is easiest to measure and the outcomes easiest to control.

One of the initiatives we've worked on for a long time is diverting waste from the landfill, both in our operations and as part of our customer packaging. At the roastery in Durham, we generate the usual office trash in addition to lots of waste from green coffee packaging, coffee roasting, and coffee tasting—mainly bags, chaff, and lots of coffee grounds. We've recycled our cardboard for a long time, but it wasn't until we starting composting in 2009 that we had a good way to dispose of all of the coffee grounds and food waste we generate.

That was a big step forward, but still left us with a lots of burlap bags (used in shipping green coffee), GrainPro bags (a plastic bag used as an air-tight/gas-tight liner inside inside of the burlap bags), and chaff (papery seed casing that comes off of coffee beans when roasted). We struggled for a long time with how to divert the GrainPro bags from the trash and finally found an unlikely partner in Walmart. Walmart collects large amounts of used bags from their customers and was willing to add our bags to the mix they give to Trex, a company that creates plastic lumber.

We've also struggled with how to get rid of our burlap bags and chaff—both of which are potentially great farming inputs that we'd prefer be used for that purpose instead of sent to the commercial composter. In just the last month, we've finally found a farm partner who can pick up the burlap and chaff regularly and for whom these are useful inputs. I list these successes not because I think they're particularly praise-worthy, but because I want folks to realize that our movement towards maximum landfill diversion has taken years, and that the movement along the spectrum in this case, while tangible, has been incremental.

We have a similar story with our packaging for the coffee that we sell retail and wholesale. Freshly roasted coffee needs to put in a container that will protect it from going stale while also allowing for naturally occurring carbon dioxide to escape. For a long time, this meant foil-lined bags, which were great at protecting the coffee but had no other home except the landfill. Finally, after years of discussion and product testing, we were able to switch our retail-sized coffee bag to a compostable material last year. Again, a big step forward, but it still leaves room for improvement. We have plans to switch our 1.5-pound bags to compostable material this summer, but we haven't yet found a solution for our 5-pound bags or the non-compostable label stickers, degassing valves, or tin-ties that go on each bag.

Moving along the spectrum from unsustainable towards sustainable can feel daunting, because so much time is spent making small steps towards a goal that can be far away. On the positive side, most of the success of the steps we make internally can be measured, and that makes it easier to see and communicate progress.

In the next post, I'll talk about "moving along the spectrum" as it relates to our producer-partners and how this concept gets a little messier when measurement isn't quite so easy.
So far, we’ve focused on the sustainability impacts of growing, purchasing, and roasting coffee. This week I’d like to take a step back and talk about an issue that’s affecting the sustainability of the coffee industry as a whole: climate change. As Counter Culture works to measure and reduce our carbon footprint, we also recognize the need to account for the climate change effects that are already in motion and affecting coffee production. In this post, I’ll share two exciting climate change projects we’re working on.

High-quality coffee grows in pretty specific conditions. It needs heat during the day, cool evenings, and predictable rainfall to trigger the coffee trees to flower and produce fruit that ripens at the ideal rate. Coffee beans are the seeds of this fruit, and their flavor is highly dependent upon the right combination of these attributes. Often, these ideal conditions occur high on the slopes of mountains, generally above 1,400 meters.

Even very small changes in temperature and precipitation patterns can have a dramatic effect on the viability of coffee trees. For example, a few degree increase in temperature can raise the ideal altitude at which coffee can be grown on a particular mountain. With a temperature increase, a farmer who previously grew coffee at 1,400 meters might have to move further up the mountain—if a higher altitude exists—where that farmer may not own land or already have coffee trees planted.

In 2013, Counter Culture partnered with a group of students from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University to form a partnership around studying climate change impacts and adaptations for coffee farmers. In the summer of 2014, the students from this group went to three co-ops we work with: CODECH in Guatemala, ASORGANICA in Colombia, and CENFROCAFE in Peru. Using various methods to gather input from farmers, co-op leaders, technical experts, and government leaders, the students researched both the effects of climate change on coffee producers and their resiliency strategies. From the data they gathered, the students made specific recommendations of adaptation strategies to each co-op. For year two of the study, a new group of students will hone in on some of the best recommendations and spend two months on the ground with the co-ops doing feasibility studies.

We’ve really appreciated the alternative perspective and expertise of the students, and we’re looking forward to learning how we can best support these co-ops as they adapt to changing climatic conditions.

As I mentioned in the post about our internal sustainability operations, we’ve measured and offset our company’s greenhouse gas footprint since 2010, but I’m especially proud of the purchase we recently made for our 2012 and 2013 emissions. Not only are these offsets independently verified, they also directly benefit coffee farmers—two things we hadn’t been able to achieve in tandem in past years.

Through Cooperativa AMBIO, we purchased enough trees to offset 1,341 tonnes of CO2. The credit to grow these trees will be allocated to coffee farmers in the buffer zone of the Selva El Ocote Biosphere reserve, in Chiapas, Mexico. Not only will this help maintain a biodiversity hotspot, it also provides these farmers with source of income in addition to coffee. According to our contact at Cooperativa AMBIO, our purchase will affect an area roughly the size of 14 soccer fields and directly impact 6 coffee-growing families.

Beyond purchasing high-quality offsets, the next step is to reduce the amount of energy we use and the need to purchase offsets. While we’re on that journey, though, we’re committed to supporting great projects.
In this post, I'm going to shift away from talking about sustainability where we buy coffee and focus on our own operations as a roaster.

A coffee grown sustainably shouldn't necessarily retain that "sustainable" designation if others involved further along the supply chain aren't also acting responsibly. Just as poor roasting can ruin a high-quality green coffee, an unsustainable roasting company can compromise the integrity of a coffee that was grown and processed sustainably. In other words, Counter Culture has a responsibility not only to roast coffee well, but also to uphold the sustainability of the coffees we buy.

Beyond sourcing sustainably grown coffee, I see Counter Culture as having three major responsibilities in continuing this momentum: environmental protection, supporting community viability, and communicating information to consumers.

Thanks in part to the personal interests of Counter Culture co-founder Fred Houk—who was a passionate bird-watcher—we've always had environmental stewardship in our DNA, though sometimes it's expression has been informal. We took a big step forward in creating systems to formalize our environmental sustainability commitments when we started measuring and offsetting our carbon footprint in 2011. The offset part has been especially cool in that it has allowed us to do some really interesting projects in the communities where we purchase coffee.

It's taken a few years to perfect the measuring process; we're now to the point where part of my new job will be not only to measure our footprint, but to work on reducing it and reporting our results. We're also creating systems to track our waste and water usage with an eye on making sure we're using resources as efficiently as possible.

As I mentioned in the first post, a full picture of sustainability encompasses not just environmental concerns, but social issues as well. Much like our environmental efforts up to this point, our social efforts have been largely focused on programs at "origin," i.e. in communities where coffee is grown—like SEEDS and collaborations with non-profits working in coffee communities.

We'll continue to work on social sustainability at origin, but we also want to strengthen our efforts in local communities. With a growing number of training centers in the U.S., it's important to us to support customers and organizations working on projects that contribute to viable livelihoods in those communities. We also have some pretty amazing employees at those training centers who are interested in sustainability and whose efforts we support through our Green Fund, which offers $500 in matching funds annually for personal sustainability-related projects.

Frankly, none of these efforts can achieve their full impact if we don't do a good job at communicating them. Our unique position in the coffee supply chain means that it's our job to tell you not only what we're doing, but also what farmers are working on and what customers can to do to consume our coffee sustainably. That's a lot of information, and, over the years, we've tried presenting it many different ways. This presentation is something we'll always be working to improve, and I see it as one of the most exciting challenges of my new position.

As a corollary to this glimpse of where we're at, the next post will talk about where we've had successes and failures at moving coffees along the sustainability continuum.


In this post, I'd like to dive in to what I mentioned in the first post as a good indicator of a coffee's sustainability: certifications. Wouldn't it be great if there were a certification and corresponding label that could simply tell us whether a coffee is sustainable or not? The good news is that certifications related to sustainability do exist. The bad news is that no one certification covers all the aspects of environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability. The chart below is my attempt to make sense of the most common coffee certifications.


  Rainforest Alliance Fair Trade Utz Bird Friendly Organic CCC Direct Trade 4C
Water Conservation Y   Y Y Y    
Soil Conservation       Y Y    
Integrated Pest Management       Y Y    
Ecosystem Conservation Y     Y Y    
Wildlife Protection Y     Y      
Waste Management Y            


  Rainforest Alliance Fair Trade Utz Bird Friendly Organic CCC Direct Trade 4C
Community Relations Y            
Working Conditions Y Y Y        
Occupational Health Y Y          


  Rainforest Alliance Fair Trade Utz Bird Friendly Organic CCC Direct Trade 4C
Guaranteed Quality Premium           Y  
Guaranteed Price Premium   Y       Y  
Transparency           Y  

* Topic is addressed, but is either not required for certification or not measured/quantified.

I'll be the first to admit that this chart is a massive oversimplification, but I hope it illustrates my main point: No one certification indicates a sustainable coffee. While it's true that a coffee could theoretically get to "yes" in every category by obtaining multiple certifications, the reality is that certifications have costs. The supply of certified coffee is much greater than the demand, so producers aren't guaranteed a premium, even if they meet all of the criteria.

Individual drawbacks aside, certifications do offer benefits. Each of the certifications in the chart invokes a third party (i.e., not the buyer or the seller) to audit the operations of the farm, cooperative, or association of farmers seeking certification. This independent verification not only authenticates the operation, but also brings a level of scientific and technical expertise not possessed by most coffee buyers. Finally, though they may be imperfect, certifications allow consumers to compare the relative sustainability of products at a glance, which is extremely valuable.

In short, for Counter Culture, certifications are a good place to begin when assessing a coffee's sustainability. Visits to producers and cooperatives help fill in some of the gaps left by certifications, as does developing supply chain relationships—which can help to facilitate information sharing.

In the coming months, we'll be field testing an environmental scorecard from our friends at Root Capital that should help us to develop a more nuanced understanding of our understanding of sustainable coffee.

Up next: what it means to be a sustainable roaster.

Finca el Puente's Moises Herrera at the Instituto Hondureño del Café research center in Marcala, Honduras.Welcome to the first in a series of posts about what sustainability means in the context of coffee. Over the next few weeks, we'll explore questions like, "How does Counter Culture know that a coffee is sustainable?" and "What does a sustainable roasting operation look like?"

As a recent addition to the Sustainability Department, I find myself wanting to define the bigger picture and to figure out how Counter Culture fits into that picture. My intention here is to chronicle that journey in the hopes of finding some clarity in an area that can be a bit nebulous.

Sustainability in general—and especially as it relates to coffee—is hard to define. To "sustain" something means to keep it going indefinitely, but what's implied in that definition?

By this point, many people have come across the widely referenced United Nations (UN) concept of sustainability, often depicted as three overlapping circles marked "social," "fiscal," and "environmental." These three areas of focus are referred to as "the triple bottom line" and form the basis of many corporate sustainability policies and sustainability certifications (more on that later). It's worth noting that some recent UN initiatives have broken down the "social" circle into "politics" and "culture," creating four focus areas.

While accepting the need for each of these three (or four) elements of sustainability to be present in order for something to be "sustainable," the coffee industry—Counter Culture included—has yet to develop a precise definition of sustainable coffee and, instead, uses indicators to measure ourselves and our progress. Ranging from general to specific, some of the indicators used in the coffee industry include coffee quality, fiscal transparency, producer income, worker rights, biodiversity, shade coverage, environmental impact, and third-party certifications.

For a consumer-ready coffee to be sustainable, all of the practices along the supply chain should be taken into account, not just what happens at origin (where coffee is grown). I'm starting this series thinking about sustainability at origin, but I promise to get to Counter Culture's practices as a roaster, as well.

At Counter Culture, we use tools like organic certification and our Direct Trade Certification to measure whether a coffee's sustainable and as signals to guide coffee drinkers interested in purchasing more sustainable products. Indicators like certifications help to signal a sustainably produced coffee, although the categorization of a coffee falls more along a spectrum than simply being "sustainable" or "not sustainable."

What I find most helpful in trying to understand all of this is to look at examples of producers we admire for their leadership in pursuing sustainability. The Salazar Family's Finca Pashapa is, in many ways, a model for sustainably produced green coffee. Finca Pashapa has been certified organic for many years, aided greatly by owner Roberto's knowledge of worm composting and the family's ability to manufacture all of the necessary fertilizers using materials found on the well-shaded farm. His passion for sustainable practices also manifests itself in the co-op he manages, Cooperativa Cafetalera Ecologica La Labor, where they've installed a biodigestor to capture methane from the washing station water and helped to build an activity field for the surrounding community.

So, yes, defining sustainable coffee production is nebulous and complex, but necessarily so. In the next, post I'll delve into the world of coffee certifications in the hopes of adding another layer of understanding to the realm of sustainable coffee.

Twin Trading is no stranger to the sustainability limelight. This year, they received the Specialty Coffee Association of America's 2014 Sustainability Award for their project "Congo Coffee Revival: Regenerating Communities by Linking Remote Farmers to Mainstream Markets." Twin Trading invests all proceeds from Twin—its parent company—into charity initiatives. They have been intentionally working on community development initiatives with a cooperative we buy from—Sopacdi.

The company refers to itself as “a pioneer and leader of the fair trade movement, working to build better lives for the poorest and most marginalised in the trading chain." They have enacted this mission for the last 25 years as an importer of agricultural goods—primarily coffee, cacao, and nuts.

Currently, their work involves 18 countries and more than 50 democratic farmer organizations. Twin understands that businesses are uniquely poised to support parts of the supply chain that are vital for their business's success and are often too easily ignored.

Recently, to better support their mission, they turned their focus to issues of gender justice and, specifically, inclusion of women in the agricultural sector. Twin recently printed a report with analysis of data gathered between October 2012 and July 2013. Their team interviewed and conducted field assessments in Peru, Nicaragua, Malawi, Ghana, Uganda, and India, and surveyed 14 producer organizations total. Twin quotes a statistic from a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Global Policy Brief in their gender report: "Globally, women own between 1–50% of agriculture land; on average less than one quarter of arable land is owned by women in developing countries." This statistic denotes a true barrier to women's access, representation, and ability to improve their livelihoods.

The aim of Twin's study was to examine the division of labor at every step of the coffee growing process. For coffee farmers, this meant gaining greater understanding of what women do that is different from or the same as men—from land preparation and maintenance through processing and drying to transporting the prepared good all the way to export and receipt of funds and financing. By understanding where the responsibilities fall, the hope was that they could understand issues of power and empowerment, as well. The report then provides a list of suggested best practices for more full inclusion of women as key players in the agricultural sector.

To better understand the depth and importance of Twin’s work, Kat Nolte, Coffee Marketer & Marketing Advisor at Twin, was kind enough to provide a Q&A session.

Hannah: Why does Twin think it is important to specifically focus on women for their projects of late?

Kat: Twin isn't just focusing projects on gender justice, we've built it into the six pillars of our approach to sustainable development. Empowering smallholder farmers is at the heart of Twin's mission. Eighty percent of the world's coffee is produced by smallholders, and it is estimated that women perform 70% of that work. Without a gender-balanced approach, our work in coffee quality, good governance, and sustainable agriculture would be very limited in scope.

When we embed a gender component into our projects, we ensure that all of the people performing the work in coffee production receive crucial technical information. Women's empowerment isn't about the promotion of one sex over the other, it's about balance, equality, and the engagement of all the relevant players in a supply chain.  

H: Why is it important for an importer to be involved in community development efforts in coffee growing countries?

K: The SCAA tells us that "great coffee doesn't just happen." And it is so true. Specialty coffee requires people who are passionate about their craft—from farmer to barista. And passion for coffee comes after you and your family are fed, clothed, and healthy. Passion comes after you have access to clean water. Passion comes after you have an education. Passion comes after you have a good place to sleep at night. For an industry that requires so much passion, it is not only important, it is essential to see to it that your coffee is coming from thriving communities.

H: What is Twin most proud of in its approach to or results from the "empowering women farmers in agricultural value chains" initiative?

K: As far as results on the ground, there are so many anecdotal and qualitative responses that my colleagues and I could give to this question, which is proof that working in gender justice produces fantastic results.

Bukonzo Joint in Western Uganda—who is also a Direct Trade partner with Counter Culture—is certainly at the top of my list. This group went from producing coffee scoring a 79 to producing specialty lots that have scored 87+ in just two short years. And they are continuing to invest in quality, gender, and their environment in order to keep improving.

When asked how they achieved this, the group starts by talking about their work in "gender balance." They finish with technical information on farm rehabilitation, cherry harvesting, and improved processing—and the technical know-how is usually explained by women from the group. They know that farming households sharing a joint vision between men and women to produce specialty coffee are successful. They also know that households struggling to communicate about how and when to harvest and where to sell their coffee also struggle to produce the quality necessary to reach specialty markets. They have built their business on the philosophy that men and women should be equal participants in decision making and equal participants in workload.

H: What makes this type of work possible? Who are key stakeholders or partners that you recommend for optimal success?

K: Meaningful work in gender justice is possible when you have buy-in from the whole supply chain. For example, if an organization is committed to producing "women's coffee" as a way to promote economic opportunity for widows who lost their husbands in armed conflict, the market needs to also support the program with purchases or investment. Likewise, if you have men and women who are working together to produce a higher quality coffee with a gender balanced approach, the market should also recognize the investment in gender justice that went into the production, or the organization could lose traction in the push toward quality.

Over the years, Twin has come to realize that project success is at its peak when a holistic approach is taken. Approaches to development through trade which interrelate multiple areas of need simultaneously reach communities deeply and over the long-term. In addition to engaging the whole supply chain and taking a holistic approach, patience and long-term commitment is required in this kind of work. One of our biggest challenges is reconciling long-term development approaches to a dynamic, ever-changing global coffee market across diverse cultures with diverse perspectives, values, and needs.

H: What does the future hold? What are some key hopes or expectations you have as these projects and the research continue to develop?

K: We are launching a very exciting five-year project in East Africa that incorporates work in gender justice, climate change adaptation, and technical assistance in coffee production with seven producers who will prioritize needs and invest in their organizations. This project is expected to continue to demonstrate that work in gender is positively correlated to improvements in coffee quality.

My hope is that the specialty industry continues to embrace initiatives that economically empower women. We work with a group in Rwanda who have a women's coffee field named Ejo Heza, which translates to "a beautiful tomorrow." My hope is that women in coffee find this "beautiful tomorrow" as these projects continue to promote and provide equality in economic opportunity, land ownership rights, and decision-making power.
Fabretto was founded in Nicaragua in 1948 when a Salesian missionary named Reverend Rafael Maria Fabretto found numerous impoverished children on his visit to Nicaragua.The deck is stacked against a lot of small coffee cooperatives. They are focusing intently on how to keep yields and quality high while keeping members happy with prices. Cooperative members have various needs that include access to affordable, healthy food; healthcare; and extra money for education for their children. This is where, ideally, supportive non-profit organizations can step in to help. A non-profit like Fabretto—one that is truly based in the community and, as such, knows the needs and solutions from within—is rare.
Counter Culture actually learned about Cinco de Junio, a Nicaraguan small cooperative we've purchased from for the last five years, because of their connection with Fabretto. With a grant supported by the Buffett Foundation and implemented alongside Catholic Relief Services, Fabretto was doing an analysis of community needs in Las Sabanas a number of years ago. They realized that Cinco de Junio's members and their families needed greater agronomic education, and that they could benefit from expanded economic opportunity—since Cinco de Junio was the only game in town. Luckily through their partnership—and, then our partnership—we were able to support Cinco de Junio in exactly this way.
Fabretto was founded in Nicaragua in 1948 when a Salesian missionary named Reverend Rafael Maria Fabretto found numerous impoverished children on his visit to Nicaragua. In its early days, it was a number of children's homes. Today, the organization has seven main educational centers in Nicaragua and focuses on securing livelihoods through education as well as food security efforts. (They also have supporting foundations in two additional countries.) "Padre Fabretto," as they call him in Nicaragua, was so influential that there is often a photo of him in family homes.
Kevin Marinacci, Fabretto's President and Chief Executive Officer for almost 25 years, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about the work of Fabretto:
Hannah: What is Fabretto doing right now that you consider to be the most successful piece of your work?
Kevin: We believe in education as means to a livelihood, and we have seen this work. Through our SAT program (Rural Secondary Education) families like those in Cinco de Junio are able to connect with external and commercial partners. It's a virtuous cycle—we invest in education and make education relevant to what their livelihood is. So, especially in the high school programs, teaching about sustainable agriculture makes it more likely that producers can then innovate and get out ahead in terms of market viability and trends. I also think that focusing on diversification into crops with chia and honey is important as it provides the opportunity to leave a more resilient rural economy for the students that are part of the cooperative.
Fabretto has seven main educational centers in Nicaragua and focuses on securing livelihoods through education as well as food security efforts. H: Could you talk about a key challenge for small cooperatives?
K: I think consolidating the gains they've made and positioning themselves properly is what's needed. It is hard for small cooperatives to say no (both internally and external). They have to start to define who they are as a cooperative, say that ideas are welcome, but communicate clearly that they are taking the premium market route and need people to be on board with what that means. With external partners, they have to be strategic about how they are going to connect with lenders to reinvest in their farms.
H: How is Fabretto involved in the day-to-day operations of Cinco de Junio?
K: We have a staff member of Fabretto who spends time on the ground visiting Cinco de Junio. He helps strategize and links them with opportunities like grants for technical assistance projects submissions for loans with Root Capital.
H: Can you share a hope for the future?
K: I'd love to see Cinco de Junio be so successful that they match our contribution to the education programs dollar-for-dollar or underwrite the investment for education. That would be a home run if they invested in SAT, because it would mean that they believe in the impact of education.
H: Thanks for the chat and for the great work you are doing!
K: We're not experts, by an stretch of the imagination, but we've been privileged to play a role.
Root Capital is a 15-year-old non-profit organization with headquarters in Cambridge, MA—and satellite offices and staff across the globe—that has been getting a lot more attention from the coffee industry over the last few years. A "social investment fund," Root Capital promotes prosperity in poor, environmentally vulnerable places in Africa and Latin America by lending money, providing financial training, and helping connect farmers to buyers.

In partnership with organizations like USAID, Keurig Green Mountain, and Starbucks, Root Capital has become well known for offering low-interest rates on pre-harvest financing loans for farmers.

Coffee farmers generally receive one payment a year for their entire harvest. This means planning out expenses can be difficult, and, once preparations for the next harvest come around, they often have little money left over to invest in their crop. As such, they often look for loans to be able to apply to their agricultural needs each season. Root Capital sets itself apart from micro-lenders like Kiva because they are loaning amounts upwards of $40,000 each time.

Lending money to smallholder farmers can be risky. If a farmers experiences difficulty meeting volume or quality expectations with their crop, they would not meet sales goals and, ultimately, would not be able to pay back the loan. One way lenders mitigate this risk is by charging high interest rates. Root Capital, on the other hand, chooses to provide low interest rates—offers ongoing training to farmers to help to ensure their ability to repay the loan. They also engage in conversations about best practices for environmental stewardship and long-term sustainability.

I have long appreciated Root Capital's transparency: they openly share both their operation's approach, as well as a commitment to sharing the metrics used to measure what success means.

Counter Culture has been watching their good work for some time and continually tried to identify places of overlap, as well as potential partnerships. Our first entré came this year when we brought Root Capital into a study regarding coffee farmers’ adaptation to climate change that we embarked on with Duke’s Nicholas School of Environmental Management.

Root Capital and Counter Culture have a shared interest in applied research—meaning, we don’t want to do research just for the sake of researching something. We want the research to be of use, to generate an agenda, to mean something concrete on the ground to the people who were initially involved in the research. This type of project is unique in that it brings together a university, a coffee roaster, and an NGO. None of us working alone would be able to understand the issue as comprehensively as we are now able to working together.

Mike Younis, one of the six Duke students involved in the research, had the opportunity to tack on some extra time with Root Capital in their offices in Lima, Peru, as part of the overall project. Here’s what he had to say about the experience:
"It was very exciting for me to be a part of Root Capital's mission to support rural prosperity. Following up my master's thesis research on Climate Change Adaptation for Coffee Growers in Latin America with an internship at Root gave me a greater appreciation of the organization’s expertise with the important issues faced by its clients and passion for tackling these challenges in order to improve the the livelihoods of those in Root Capital communities. I am grateful for the opportunity that Counter Culture Coffee, Root Capital, and the Nicholas School of the Environment provided me with this past summer!"

Both of our business and Root Capital's business are impacted by external factors that can be hard to control. We each have to look for ways to protect ourselves and our supply chains from risks—in this case the vulnerability brought on by climate change. When farmers are impacted by climate change, their overall supply of coffee is less stable, and they are less likely to be able to repay loans or have a consistent supply for buyers. Root Capital and Counter Culture Coffee will benefit from better understanding the impacts of climate change and hopefully be better poised to be a part of the solution.

Moving forward, I believe that collaboration among interested parties from different industries and organizations—all with common goals and interests—will only continue to blossom within the coffee industry. Results from the climate change adaptation study will be shared on our website and elsewhere late-spring 2015.

Hope you’ll keep following along and be in touch with any questions or comments!

-Hannah Popish