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How We Branched Out with the Arbor Day Foundation

Kaldi’s Coffee Global Commitments

Coffee is our passion and our vehicle for giving back to the communities we serve, as well as the global coffee community. Long time Kaldi’s Coffee customers may know that we actively search for partners with the same goals and values as part of our community commitment. Throughout the years, we have been lucky enough to create and sustain many of these partnerships. We are always humbled by the good people that we work with, and the good they do for the world. 

So, what is the Arbor Day Foundation and how did we come to partner with them? Why did a foundation focused on trees partner with a coffee roaster in the first place?

Read on to learn more about this very special Foundation and how their path crossed with ours. 

Pines and mountains

What is the Arbor Day Foundation?

The Arbor Day Foundation (ADF) is the largest 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees. More than 1 million members, supporters, and valued partners have helped them plant more than 350 million trees in neighborhoods, communities, cities, and forests throughout the world to ensure a greener and healthier future for everyone.

The impact they make on our world is accomplished through conservation and education programs. They work to restore forests, improve tree cover in communities, and inspire the next generation of tree planters to ensure this important work endures.

To quote them, they are about "creating change through trees". You can learn more about their work, mission, and values by visiting their website, www.arborday.org.

A community with treesArbor Day Foundation's work doesn't stop at forests. They also promote the benefits of tree coverage in communities

How and Why We Partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation

Decades ago, while studying bird migration to Latin America and the effects of deforestation there, John Rosenow visited the coffee farms of Chiapas, Mexico where the North American Oriole and other birds wintered. The coffee farms, shaded by native trees and rich with a diversity of other agriculture plants, had created a migration destination. John described the genesis of Arbor Day Coffee as “a personal way of connecting people to helping save critical rain forest areas by purchasing coffee from farmers who are doing it right.”

With a commitment to always offer shade grown coffee, they source and directly work with coffee producers around the world. This allows ADF to tie in their mission of preserving and nurturing rainforests around the world, while also supporting coffee producers and gaining more awareness in more places.

Arbor Day Coffee Bags

Their coffee can be bought as a subscription, purchased individually online, or gifted. You can learn more about their efforts on their Coffee Impact page.

While ADF sources their coffee, they rely on specialized roasters to do the roasting and packaging. In 2018, the Arbor Day Foundation was looking to start a new relationship with a roaster focused on sustainability, quality, expertise, and one which held shared core values. Their core value of sustainability focuses on four fundamental criteria.

Four Fundamental Sustainability Focuses: 
  • Trees
  • Water
  • Quality
  • Education  
MORE ON HOW ADF SOURCES COFFEE
Essentially, coffee farmers that ADF works with must commit to a tree management plan focused on conservation and reforestation, a water management plan focused on water usage and wastewater, a plan to increase the quality and yield of their crops, and an ongoing educational series on agriculture that touches all of these areas. This all aligns with the ADF’s foundational lens of using trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, from a changing climate to poverty and hunger.

Our decades of roasting, relationships and experience with farming communities, and our commitment to continual improvement stateside complemented the Arbor Day Foundation’s focus abroad. Our efforts over the years have been aimed solely at that core value of continual improvement. 

A Mutually Beneficial Relationship 

Our first step in our partnership was to shorten the carrying time of roasted coffee drastically (i.e. how long it sat on a shelf unused), transitioning from their previous roaster’s huge back stock of roasted coffee to daily roasts, which allows us to ship only freshly roasted coffee to match their rolling demand. 

Roasted coffee in a cooling tray

This change provided an immediate leap in quality for ADF, which we have slowly supplemented by lowering the roast levels of most coffees through careful and constant profiling, and cupping coffees regularly with the Foundation. We ship roasted samples to ADF weekly and conduct virtual cuppings with ADF team members of both current and prospective coffees. We’ve made this gradual transition from darker to medium roasts together, with their Italian Roast a bold exception, in order to highlight the complexities, sweetness, and quality of the Arbor Day Foundation coffees.

Further efforts include helping the farms that produce ADF’s La Sombra blend to both achieve and to maintain their organic certifications, while improving both quality and yield.

Raising Awareness for the Cause

Each year, as Arbor Day nears in April, we make an effort to both raise awareness of ADF’s work, as well as to create a concrete opportunity to make a real environmental impact for our company and customers. Unfortunately, in 2020, our efforts to promote ADF ran into COVID-19 complications. We purchased saplings for direct distribution to customers through our cafes, but after pausing cafe operations due to COVID-19, we had to improvise to find new homes for all of those young trees. Happily, they all found good homes and were planted.

In 2021, we pledged to plant one tree for every bag of Fair Trade Organic Birds & Bees blend we sold, leading up to Arbor Day. We chose this blend for a few reasons:

  • The FTO designation indicates that the coffee was sourced ethically, with no child labor involved, at a guaranteed price above market for the farmers, and of course, that that only organic-approved pesticides and cleaning agents were used in the growing and preparation of the coffee at all stages. 
  • The beans that make up the blend are sourced from the same regions in which the Arbor Day Foundation has ongoing reforestation and preservation efforts.
    • Notably, Peruvian coffee is a regular, seasonal component of Birds and Bees, and the Arbor Day Foundation has been working in the country for years through multiple programs.

Birds & Bees coffee blend bag in front of trees

MORE ABOUT ADF’s WORK IN PERU

Their Café Selva Norte Project is working with over 2,000 farmers through 4 cooperatives in the Cajamarca and Amazonia regions in Peru to fight deforestation and utilize land more effectively, while honing in on the Foundations four sustainability focuses. In addition to those management plans involving trees, water, quality, and education, the project has provided micro-lending to farmers, a Q-grading laboratory, and helped construct a state of the art processing mill, which is owned by the cooperatives and focuses on improving traceability and quality.  So far, the project has measured it’s impact at 12,500 hectares of conserved forest, 8,250 hectares of land converted to sustainable agroforestry, and over 1.3 million metric tons of carbon reduced and sequestered to date. 

We’re contributing our pledged Arbor Day planting to those projects in Peru this year as a tiny piece of their ongoing effort to plant over 360,000 trees. As our partnership grows, we hope to share a trip to Peru together soon, cupping micro-regions and individual farms, while gaining invaluable, granular information as we strive to keep improving the quality and impact of our joint mission to bring excellent and sustainable coffees stateside. 

A coffee producer standing next to coffee trees on his farm

How You Can Help Support Arbor Day’s Work

Of course, combating climate change and protecting the planet is harder than just buying a bag of coffee. ADF is an amazing organization filled with great, caring people, who have done decades of excellent work. We are proud to call them partners and to align with them on the mission of sourcing and roasting great coffee to improve the lives of others. 

To learn more about their vital efforts to help the environment and directly impact local farmers, please visit Rain Forest Rescue program and Cafe Selva Norte Project, and please consider contributing to those efforts.

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