In recent years, consumers’ increasing preference for online shopping has reshaped some segments of commerce. While shifts in sales of clothing, groceries, books and toys get much of the attention, people are purchasing different coffees online for a number of interesting reasons. The expanded access to coffees via the Internet trumps the limited coffee options available in nearby stores. Coffee lovers can find options that are better, cheaper, more unique, produced more ethically, or just more interesting!
The benefits of ordering coffee online follow the preferences of the coffee drinker, for the most part. No matter the coffee lover’s priorities, one thing is for sure: buying coffee online always removes the hassle of picking out a coffee at the grocery store or coffee shop, buying it and lugging it home! There are many other benefits of ordering coffee online.
Expand Beyond Grocery Shelves
Across the United States and Canada, many people are limited in their local coffee selection. This is especially true in rural areas. Regions with extreme weather also limit treks to grocery stores and nice coffee shops with better options than the chain grocery store or mom-and-pop. In winter, those in the Northern US and Canada can’t rationalize driving further for food and drink preferences. In L.A. and NYC, people can’t fight traffic to shop for unique products. To maintain a supply of unique and high-quality foods and beverages, it makes sense to order online. Some coffee lovers opt for a subscription to remove the need to reorder each month.
There are an increasing number of coffee lovers in the US. With chain coffee retailers replacing diners and malls as places for young people to hang out, coffee-loving starts younger. As coffee lovers live longer, they can order better coffee when they can’t travel as far. Overall, people are getting more particular about their coffee’s flavor and origins. The internet increasingly connects them to high-quality, clean and unique coffees.
Combatting Monopolization in Coffee Sales
Coffee drinkers who don’t have any particular preference often end up “preferring” ubiquitous coffee brands without considering their choice and impact. Granted, many people who would prefer not to drink coffee from the largest retailers don’t realize they have a choice. In rural areas and discount or big box stores, corporate coffee companies often offer the best quality coffee a store can supply consistently. Corporate coffee companies’ retail locations entice people in with a convenient bite to eat, free Wi-Fi or an inexpensive place to gather. Some customers feel a status boost: getting my special coffee made by Company X. So it seems everyone purchases from big coffee chains, or fast food chains with notable coffee, at some point.
However, consistently purchasing from coffee corporations has multiple drawbacks. As these corporations grow more powerful, they put local coffee shops out of business. They buy up great real estate in small towns, suburbs and metropolises. Stalls in downtowns, malls and airports that could be occupied by local businesses get usurped.
Also, these corporations don’t have a reputation for being great employers. By keeping workers in a low-wage state, increased reliance on second jobs and government assistance doesn’t help anyone—except that company who refuses to value them. The coffee may have exploited the farmers or workers. It may contain pesticides, fungicides and carcinogens. By supporting coffee corporations that only care about their bottom line, we all suffer.
Benefits of Ordering Coffee Online – Transparency and Ethics
Ordering coffee online allows consumers to spend their money wisely in a number of ways. Most importantly, expanded access to coffees can meet a person’s individual taste. Also, it’s difficult to find out the origins and treatment of large retailers’ coffee. Likewise, the mass-production companies (like those selling a lot of instant) that have been around for decades rarely provide sourcing information. In fact, many deliberately avoid providing transparency. Bulk coffee production can be shady.
One of the benefits of ordering coffee online is that it usually eliminates one or more links in the supply chain delivering the coffee. Some online retailers only sell coffee of a certain quality level. Others only offer coffee that was grown and traded ethically, sustainably or both. Websites selling coffee can provide coffee lovers with greater transparency. Taking out the middleman of a retail store can lower the price too. You may get the best coffee from Honduras for the same marked-up price if you order directly.
The Dangers of Untraceable Coffee
To make the desire for source and treatment transparency hit home, let’s take the example of a coffee with a horrible history. Let’s say a fast food chain sells mass-produced coffee whose origins they don’t care to trace—and couldn’t trace if they tried. This coffee may use a combination of arabica and robusta beans from eight unscrupulous farms throughout Guatemala and El Salvador. All of the farms planted GMO coffee trees in the sun and doused them in pesticides and fungicides. Machines harvested and processed the coffee, with little regard for selecting the best beans. The few humans involved in the growing, harvesting and processing were paid so little they were basically wage slaves. They barely have money for the necessities in life. (However, the fast food chain can still mark up the coffee but keep the price low)!
Next, a portion of the coffee is decaffeinated with solvents known to cause cancer. The coffee is sold to a coffee distributor, which is how the fast food chain gets it even cheaper; they or their supplier buy in bulk. This contaminated coffee is sold by the fast food chain throughout the US and Canada, to unsuspecting customers who may drink it several times a week. By buying it, corporations and their customers incentivize this nasty supply chain.
If these customers instead ordered ethically grown coffee online, they might spend between $10 and $20 more on coffee per month. If they bought it at a shop instead of brewing it at home, they might spend $20-$40 more. However, they would lower their risk of contracting cancer. Their purchase could do some good instead of causing small farmers in developing countries to operate in the red or keeping workers trapped as wage slaves. Without knowing where their food and drinks come from, consumers can incentivize health and environmental risks, along with the poor treatment of workers in other countries.
Sustainability in Coffee Farming
People who purchase coffee with unknown origins, or who knowingly purchase it from poor conditions, can contribute to environmental problems. Coffee naturally grows in tropical forests near the equator. When these ecosystems are preserved and treated well, they absorb a lot of carbon, which slows climate change. Coffee farming that’s not responsible can damage the soil, the surrounding plants and animals and the waterways. Also, an established coffee farm can provide jobs, instead of working to log and clear valuable forests.
Benefits of Ordering Coffee Online – Responsibility and Flavor
Another benefit of ordering coffee online is being able to discover a single-origin coffee that you love. Single-origin beans were grown and processed on one farm. At Subida Coffee Co., we have prioritized ethics and sustainability, in terms of both the environment and labor. We received Rainforest Alliance certification. In addition, Subida operates with the goal of educating the next generation of Honduran farmers and entrepreneurs. The non-profit operating Subida provides traditional and agricultural education (and exposure) on the site of the coffee farm. Subida’s dark and medium roasts of single-origin coffee empower youth to improve their lives. Some students go on to enrich their community. The superior taste of Subida coffee helps put single-origin coffee from Honduras on the map of premium coffees too.