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Sustainability

Business will always seek to externalize environmental impacts and all other costs. Would people be willing to pay what a truly sustainable cup of coffee would cost?


Sustainability is something that is incredibly important to our business model and to the owners personally. There isn’t one thing a person or organization can do that will truly be enough to reverse the anthropomorphic related climate changes we are seeing on a global scale. We don’t pretend to be the solution to all of our environments woes. Farmers Union Coffee Roasters is a new company and is very limited in budget and total man hours we can dedicate to any task. We are taking sustainability very seriously and plan to grow with the goals of becoming much more sustainable over time. In fact we believe so much in sustainability it is one of our core values- sustainability, hospitality, ownership and quality. These are the values that drive all of our decisions.

Current sustainability efforts:

Compostable cups, composting cafe waste, compostable coffee bags:  Anything we can buy that we can compost and not throw into the garbage is a step in the right direction.  We compost as much waste as we can at our cafe and will always be searching for the best solution to reduce waste.

Refillable coffee containers: We sell more jar refills than any other whole bean option at our cafe.  This is a major step in starting a conversation about sustainability, and we are unaware of any other coffee company selling their coffee in refillable containers.

Paper Free Sunday: We hosted Eugene’s first “Paper Free Sunday”, and have offered our customers the option to take their to go coffee in ball mason jars every day since. We plan to make “Paper Free Sunday” a regular occurance here in Eugene for many years to come.

Burlap sacks: We have thousands of burlap sacks that we have reused- some of them ended up at the community garden on the river path.

Grainpro bags: As part of our roastery, we have started to reuse our grainpro bags for our garbage waste.  


The challenges here are many- importers aren’t always transparent with the prices they pay to farmers. Importers are also not always willing to share as much information as we need to be assured our goals are met. We also are limited in the amount of money we can pay for coffee, and the amount our customers are willing to pay for a cup of coffee.

To put our current efforts into context:

Although our efforts may seem small, in all of our years working in coffee we are not aware of a single coffee roastery that is doing as much to be sustainable as Farmers Union Coffee Roasters. The goal is to be carbon neutral and create zero waste in the long term.

It’s important to bracket these grandiose goals with some grounding in the realities of business: we want to be able to do much more than we currently do! The food industry in general is plagued with sustainability challenges. How far can we go as a business without putting ourselves out of business? Should we go entirely vegan? Should we only source ingredients that we can have delivered on a bicycle? Should we even be roasting coffee? Business always seeks to externalize their environmental impact and other costs. Would consumers be willing to pay what a truly sustainable cup of coffee would cost? We think general moving things in the right direction is far better than doing nothing.

Coffee chaff: This is the thing that most coffee roasters will throw away in the garbage. We save it and use it for local chicken coops and also for composting. Chaff is naturally high in nitrogen and makes the coop smell great too. We are sure there are many more uses for this that we haven’t discovered yet.

Reusable buckets for coffee deliveries: This year we have saved about 2000, 5lb bags from being disposed by delivering all of our coffees locally in reusable buckets. We feel like this is a great step to embracing sustainability, and we are not aware of a single other roastery delivering their coffee in reusable buckets.

Green Coffee Buying: We do our very best to buy coffee from importers who share our value of sustainability. One example of a coffee we are currently selling provides a great example of this. Our coffee from Guadalupe Miramar is a coffee farmed by that village in Oaxaca. Sustainable Harvest is our partner who purchased that coffee at origin and brought it to the USA. This specific coffee saw the farmers getting $3.50 a pound for their efforts. The price we paid was $3.85 a pound. This coffee was then sold at auction for much more than that price and all the proceeds were returned to that village. We don’t always get this kind of information from importers, and we are still learning the best ways to ensure farmers receive such fair compensation for their efforts. To put this into context the current commodity price of coffee is $1.12 a pound. We always endeavor for our farmers to receive a fair price well above the commodity price that is paid for coffee.
The challenges here are many- importers aren’t always transparent with the prices they pay to farmers. Importers are also not always willing to share as much information as we need to be assured our goals are met. We also are limited in the amount of money we can pay for coffee, and the amount our customers are willing to pay for a cup of coffee.