Win, Win, Win vs. Lose, Lose, Lose

A coffee parable

Everyone has had the experience of making a decision that looks like a no-brainer, and then looking on in horror as everything goes awry in ways that were hard to see ahead of time.

Take for example, a coffee plantation run by farmers who seek to prosper by increasing their yields and hence their bottom line. The simplest way to achieve this at first blush is to maximize the efficiency of coffee production by clearing the trees on the plantation. This creates more room for coffee plants and makes the harvesting of the beans easier. The result is a bigger crop collected in less time and hence at a lower cost.

But then things start to slowly come apart. Coffee's rich flavors need rich soil to fully develop. Coffee trees voraciously consume the nutrients in soil, and when you remove surrounding foliage, the natural humus is reduced. With fewer roots in the ground, the topsoil is more susceptible to runoff.

The coffee grown under these conditions has no character and fetches a lower price at the market. Instead of a virtuous circle of expanding benefits, the farmers have unwittingly created a viscous circle of decreasing value and negative environmental impacts.

If the plantation takes a different approach, what at first looks like the opposite of efficiency ends up being the more direct and sustainable road to prosperity for the farmers, and also healthier for the environment.

Say the farmers leave the trees in place, meaning lower yields and more work in cultivation and harvest. But because the humus remains enriched by the falloff from the canopy of bushes and trees that enfold the coffee plants, the soil is naturally loaded with nutrients. Runoff is contained by the roots of the denser flora, so erosion is checked. The coffee harvested retains its unique flavors year to year, and the plantation remains a suitable habitat for wildlife.

They call this coffee shade grown or bird friendly, and these farmers consistently bring to market the superior beans sought after by increasingly knowledgeable coffee drinkers around the world who appreciate the superb taste and are willing to pay more for it.

Warrior One is fully organic and shade grown, with a cup that is beautifully balanced between roundness and acidity, showing sweet butter notes and a hint of citrus.

Enjoy some today at the Café 1812, or pick up a bag at the campus store, and learn more about how the Warrior Coffee project is helping people and the environment, while expanding educational opportunities for Lycoming students.