Coffee has become a part of everyday life; without it, some of us can’t even imagine a typical morning. It is part of the obligatory ritual, in the middle of which, among the awakening morning thoughts, there is no room to explore the origin and story of our coffee. And yet, I am convinced that unanswered questions await all of us, reminiscent of a child’s discovery of the unknown: How? Why? From where?

The more I knew about coffee, the more I became interested in its path – who are the people who make it grow and thrive? What conditions do they live in? My focus was not just on the coffee itself, but I also became interested in its growers. I felt connected to them; we were joined by the same grains.

Those of you who have tried to answer these questions for yourself may have found that it is not easy to get information about the situation on plantations and the pay workers receive. The coffee community is growing, and it is vital that, as coffee lovers, we see beyond the coffee grounds after drinking a cup. I am fascinated by this flow of progress, which raises our awareness and reminds us of the bigger picture, making more and more green coffee providers today offer only coffees that they can be sure have been grown responsibly (towards the environment and the community).

The Ndaroini community of the Nyeri region of Kenya

One of the African coffees currently available in the Banibeans offer comes from the Nyeri region southeast of the Mount Kenya mountains. Although the prices of Kenyan coffee beans are one of the highest and most appreciated, the number of coffee growers has been declining. A few years ago, a company representative from which I bought unroasted Kenyan coffee visited the Ndaroini community (1200 micro growers) and spent some time with them, and explored life in this part of the world. At the time of his visit, Nyeri lagged behind other regions in the quality of coffee bean production despite excellent conditions (rich soil and exceptional altitude). With the company’s help, the community increased output by about 40% in a few years. The quality of coffee cherries jumped, and the community grew day by day (today, there are more than 1,400 micro-growers). In addition, the purchase price of coffee rose by more than 50%, giving people fair pay, and the region began to develop again. They managed to build an entirely new school; people are immigrating, and living conditions have improved significantly.

What about the environmental aspect?

In addition to the responsibility to the community and society, caring for the environment is also one of the most important values. Because I am a kind of “eco freak,” caring for nature means a lot. That is why I am working with a company (supplier of unroasted coffee from South America) that emphasizes forest care. I buy Brasil Recanto coffee beans from a grower who, in addition to coffee plantations, also takes care of the forest, which is located directly next to the plantations. I am choosing growers committed not to endangering the forests essential for biodiversity and the conservation of natural habitats when planting coffee.

Illustrations: Ella Hartman

Lately, I have also gotten a lot of questions about why the new packaging depicts women representing the region/country of origin of coffee beans. The purpose of the illustrations is to emphasize that the production process is not mechanized, but people stand behind each harvested grain. The quality of coffee cherries also depends on them.

Luka Banovic, Banibeans