Alta Organic Coffee and Tea Company, roasts only the finest organic Arabica beans from the tropical mountainous regions of Central and South America, Indonesia, and Africa. We have been a pioneer in bringing quality, pesticide-free coffee to the consumer for over 30 years. In 1984, when Alta began roasting coffee, organic coffee was still outside of the coffee discourse, and very few micro-roasters served the market. Shortly after we opened, we traveled to Central America and visited two types of farms: technified farms, or “full sun coffee”, and farms that were dedicated to sustainable, shade grown farming practices. Full-sun coffee is a hybridized coffee plant that can tolerate full sun, but only with synthetic fertilizers and pesticide applications. The yield is high but the cost to the world’s environment is great.
The giant corporations had begun clear cutting their hillsides, opening the door to massive soil erosion and bird and insect habitat destruction. Our eyes were open to the devastation that these farming practices brought to the workers and their families since the introduction of non- shade grown coffee.
Patti Spooner, owner of Alta Coffee remembers, “upon visiting the farms that were using sustainable farming practices, I realized that I couldn’t support the conventional farms, even if the profits might be higher. The use of toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers was killing the micro-life in the soil and polluting the rivers and underground water reservoirs. The lives of the farmers and their families were in jeopardy due to the unsafe living and working conditions, not to mention the birds, bees, and bascially all living things that are affected by the poisons.”
After that trip, we never looked back.
We vowed never to support “full-sun coffee” farms again.
Not so many years ago, all coffee was grown under the edge of the forest canopy or under taller agricultural trees like bananas, macadamias, almonds, citrus, mangos and avocados. These trees provide additional income for the farmers and forest canopies contributes natural fertilizing mulch from composting leaves making the soil rich and alive with nutrients. Migratory birds who live in the forests are mutually benefitial to the health of the coffee plants because they act as natural insect control.
Organic farming is a ray of hope for all living things. Sustainable agriculture can provides nourishing food for communities while conserving our natural resources and the health of workers. Furthermore, sustainablity supports a stable climate and safeguards soil and water. Our planet’s future depends on consumers who care about the quality of foods they purchase and feed their families. We must keep encouraging American consumers to buy from merchants who support organic farmers, like Alta Organic Coffee and Tea. Supporting organic coffee is a vote for a cleaner environment and a boost for a better life for the farmers.
Patti Spooner, owner of Alta Organic Coffee and Tea Co.