You Can Call Me Al!

Congratulations to Vice President Al Gore for winning the Nobel Peace Prize this morning! In the last year, Gore has won an Emmy, an Oscar and now a Nobel Prize! Not bad. Of course he also won the popular vote for President in 2000 in something we like to call an “election” here in the States, but his brother wasn’t the governor of any contested states, so it didn’t count. It’s not like the guy who did take office made any huge mistakes, blunders or started a land war in Asia. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

But this post is not about the past, but the future, because for all of us who make our living in the world of coffee, global climate change is going to affect our future. When I was in Costa Rica this spring for the CoE, one of the things many of the farmers and micro-millers talked about was the effects they were noticing in their microclimates already which may be caused by global warming. Rains didn’t fall when they normally did and the length of the growing season was shifting, they said. I also heard stories like this last year in Nicaragua.

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In some ways, I believe, the coffee industry is ahead of the curve in being able to combat this type of problem, because we, including everyone in the seed-to-cup chain already makes such a concerted effort to turn this into a sustainable industry. Roasters use renewable energy. Cafés have moved away from styrofoam. Farmers are investing more in organic growing methods instead of petroleum-based fertilizers. And yet we still have so far to go. Do any container ships run on biodiesel or wind power?

The costs for unchecked climate change will be devastating for the coffee industry, and we all have to do what we can to mitigate their impacts. We also have to find solutions so that we can continue to work in this field that we love on the only planet that we have. And thanks to the leadership of Al Gore and others, maybe we can get cracking on this before it’s too late!

Way to go, Al!

By the way, if you haven’t seen Al’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, you really should.


  1. Excellent, Ive been stoked about a green issue for awhile!! Lets put our heads together from all corners of the world and see what different challenges we face and what inovative solutions we have so we can push further!

  2. Great comments, Klaus and Em. What awesome editorial advisory board members you are! We have an article planned for 2008 called The Sustainable Cafe which will address some of these issues, but I think you guys may be right — it probably does deserve even more attention and exploration than one article would afford. Klaus, I’ll be interested to hear how you and the Coffee Collective are approaching these issues as you build out your company. Perhaps you could dedicate one of your column pieces to this?

  3. Well said Klaus, and I couldn’t agree more with either you or Ken. I think we need to keep up the momentum that Al started last year and specifically focus on the coffee industry – carbon credits for power consumption (espresso machines are juice suckers!!) recylcling of products, composting of coffee waste (grinds etc), packaging, roasting, growing etc… maybe we should look at a series of articles on how to be in the coffee industry in the 21st century, and make sure this industry is sustainable for a long time yet.

  4. I like the fact that I learn about Al winning the Nobel prize here on the B-Mag blog. Guess this is one of the first places I check when I turn on my computer.
    It would be brilliant to see an article about how to be environmentally friendly as a barista/cofffee shop/roaster in a future issue. I still think there are many cafés that don’t consider the effect they might be making on the environment.

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