The Espresso Train to Sustainability

I am a rising sophomore civil engineering student in the Swanson School at Pitt. As an avid coffee drinker, and overall food snob, I care a lot about the drink that’s in my cup. I already feel like coffee is very much a part of my life, so it will be exciting to have the opportunity to see every step of the process and see the magnitude and delicacies of the production first hand.

Costa Rica ranks in the top ten on the World Energy Council’s global environmental sustainability ranking. Without an effort towards environmental sustainability, it would not be feasible to maintain profitable, high quality coffee in country year after year. In terms of coffee production, which is one of the country’s main exports, sustainability is crucial. Production is considered sustainable when it meets the needs of present consumption without compromising the ability to reach the same needs in the future.

Costa Rica’s efforts towards sustainability give me, as an outsider, the impression that it is very globally conscious, green (having lots of agriculture and forests), and in part, the country uses the sustainability title to appeal to tourists. While I am still speculating, a focus on sustainability makes a country seem cooler and more progressive as well.

Some sustainable initiatives undertaken by Costa Rica include green energy, becoming carbon neutral, banning recreational hunting, saving forests and protecting their oceans.

Costa Rica is using green energy such as hydroelectricity, geothermal power, wind, and solar power. The most recent statistics claim that 99.62% of the country’s electricity needs are provided by renewable power. This is impressive considering 63% of United States electricity is still provided by fossil fuels.

Forests are a topic of interest in Costa Rica since most of forests were stripped away in the early 20th century to accommodate the growing market for beef in America. The country is working to replant, using tax money and outsourcing help from smaller farmers. The goal is to have 60% of the country covered in forest.

Forests are crucial to coffee because coffee plants thrive in the shade. Some farms, like Doka Estates Coffee in San Jose, promote sustainability by growing trees and coffee plants in the same plot of land. This kind of interplanting promotes symbiotic relationship where the two species can benefit from each other and helps improve biodiversity.

Costa Rica is ranked highly in environmental sustainability because of all the efforts they are making to improve their country and minimize its footprint. I am excited to see the work in action.



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