High street chain Costa Coffee today announced plans to buy all of its coffee from sustainable sources.
The chain of coffee shops will be sourcing at least 30% of beans for its Mocha Italia blend, which forms the basis of its coffee drinks, from beans certified by the Rainforest Alliance within six months, it said.
That equates to around 1,000 tonnes of ‘green’ coffee over the course of a year.
Costa Coffee also said it was planning to covert its entire coffee supply for its shops in more than 20 countries to certified farms by 2010.
Rainforest Alliance certifies farms to ensure they meet environmental and social standards including protecting biodiversity, managing forests and providing decent accommodation for workers.
Tensie Whelan, president of the not-for-profit organisation, said the scheme paid a premium above market prices for the quality produce – which ranges from flowers to tea.
She added that the better farm management introduced by the programme could help boost productivity, while preserving tree cover had a part to play in tackling climate change.
Rainforest Alliance, which was founded in the US 20 years ago, now certifies some 3% of the world’s coffee.
David Hutchison, marketing director of Costa Coffee, said the company had chosen Rainforest Alliance out of a number of ethical certification schemes because of what it achieved in environmental sustainability and working with communities.
He said while customers were increasingly interested in where their coffee was coming from, the company had made the move because ‘it was the right thing to do’ rather than because of pressure from consumers.
The extra cost of the more expensive coffee sourced would not be passed onto customers in the UK or elsewhere, he said.
As part of the scheme Costa’s existing suppliers in places such as Uganda and Ethiopia will be assisted in getting certified by the Rainforest Alliance.
The company said its latest move built on the Costa Foundation, established in 2006, which supports coffee-growing communities, for example by building schools.
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