Coffee from Seed to Cup: A Case Study in Sustainable Agriculture^

^Sustainable Food Systems Track course

Instructor: Dr. Amanda Caudill

Fulfills requirement: Food, Environment, and Ecology (FEE) OR Case Study (CS)
Day: Thursday
Dates: Jan. 24, 31, Feb. 7, 14, 21 (Module 1, 5 sessions)
Time: 6:10 – 8:10 PM
Room location: TBD
Course number: ENVB 0333 N

Course Description

Coffee is a tropical crop grown in regions of the world that host high levels of biodiversity. The way that coffee farms are managed can have a large impact on the local wildlife communities that live in and around coffee farms. Although consumers in import countries pay top dollar for their cup of coffee, many coffee farmers across the globe struggle to support themselves and their families. Can coffee farms be managed in a way that protect wildlife habit and the environment, while at the same time producing a viable, profitable crop for the farmers?

This course explores this question and others related to the complexities surrounding coffee sustainability. We will investigate the coffee industry from seed to cup and have an opportunity to connect with coffee farmers, researchers, roasters/shop owners, and consumers. We will examine coffee farms through case studies; assess coffee certifications such as shade grown, organic, Rainforest Alliance, and Smithsonian Bird Friendly; learn about socio-economics and environmental issues associated with coffee; and gain an understanding of the challenges that farmers face and the nuances involved in defining sustainable coffee.

About the Instructor

Dr. Amanda Caudill is a coffee research scientist and an alumnus of Columbia University and The Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability (EICES) Executive Education program. She recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. She has worked with coffee sustainability from seed to cup and has lived and worked in the coffee-growing regions of India, Costa Rica, and Mexico. She is interested in sustainable agriculture as a means to provide wildlife habitat, foster ecosystem services, and conserve biodiversity while simultaneously providing for human livelihoods. She is the owner and creator of Blue Leaf Travels – Curated Coffee and Culture Tours. Blue Leaf provides weeklong eco-tours in Costa Rica that are a balanced mix of coffee farms, monkey-filled rainforests, cultural activities, and some rest and relaxation on the beach.