ECOSYSTEM HIGHLANDS: behind the coffee chain (new SFYN podcast episode)

09 Dec 2020

The new SFYN podcast episode is on Air

by Kumud Dadlani, Guest host on SFYN Podcast

The Coffee industry could potentially be disrupted. As seen in the study by IPCC, climate change can significantly reduce the production of Arabica and Robusta beans. Additionally, the rainforest trust reports that almost 50% of the land used for Coffee production will no longer be sustainable and viable. Taking care of the soil, land and the various elements of an ecosystem is of utmost importance.

This is true for Coffee farms around the world. While the identity of Coffee has changed from a utilitarian function to much emphasis being given as a speciality commodity now, so should the production of it change from large scale plantations to an agro ecological method of growing. Seeing Coffee for it truly is, i.e. a plant and not a crop. A lot of this can be seen in the highlands of the world, where Coffee is grown in tandem with nature and as part of an ecological & regenerative system.


by Kumud Dadlani


Building resilience is crucial at this time.

While we might be in the pursuit of adding value, what does that truly mean in the Coffee world? Can speciality Coffee also include features of the ecosystem that grew within? The birds, the bees, the animals, the land and the people who are a part of the cycle be given due diligence.

Taking care of the Highlands is about environmental management and is fundamental to the issue of climate change where a holistic approach is taken socially and environmentally. Native knowledge is a key factor here and the transferring of it to the next generation of caretakers of the land.

“When it comes to highland growers, they need to be equipped with the ability to process their own Coffee, the ability to move their own Coffee with the ability to sell their own Coffee to be able to reap the true benefit of highland Coffee.”

  Arthur Karuletwa

Coffee as a commodity presents global challenges where social inequality and loss of biodiversity is commonly seen. Understanding the role of Coffee and it’s disparities in the producing and consuming countries is not to be overlooked. This is where technology plays a part in creating access and equity through traceability and transparency in the value chain. The future of Coffee could very well depend on these factors.


by Black Baza Coffee


  • Stephany Escamilla Femat & Gerardo Hernández Martínez run the cooperative El Cafecol in Veracruz, Mexico. Together they maintain the objectives of preserving the diversity of the forest, ensure stable livelihoods, develop programs to enhance the value of Coffee and work together with the government to change local policies around Coffee.
  • Arshiya Bose, a social scientist from India who started Black Baza Coffee as a medium to help Coffee farmers to grow the plant in tandem with nature. She speaks about the biodiversity seen in India and the new definition of speciality Coffee. For her, the forest is represented in the cup.
  • Arthur Karuletwa, hails from Rwanda. At his former job at Starbucks Coffee company where he was the Coffee Traceability Director, Arthur has worked on a program using block chain technology to give back and solidify the identities of Coffee growers. He further explains how the terroir can affect the flavour and sensory quality in a cup of Coffee.
  • Emanuele Dughera, works for the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity as coordinator & as a spokesperson of the Africa and Middle East Office. Furthermore, he manages Slow Food actions, grassroots projects, food and educational activities, in the Southern African countries as well as Portuguese speaking countries in Africa. He speaks of a new project called Slow Food Coffee Coalition.

Listen to the episode in the SFYN Podcast on:



Google podcasts 


Extra materials, such as pictures, additional interviews and documents can be found on the Slow Food Youth Network Patreon page

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