Coffee berries
In Chiapas, Mexico, men transport coffee berries for processing. (© Cristina Mittermeier)

Editor’s note:September 29 marks National Coffee Day in the United States (International Coffee Day is Oct. 1.) Throughout September, Human Nature is publishing reports on the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a coalition working to make coffee the world’s first sustainable agricultural product. This post is the fourth in the series.

I remember a time when the only real choice you had to make about your coffee was to add cream or sugar.

Now? A dizzying array of brands, beans and blends competes for your taste buds (and your pocketbook). Soon — if I have my way — there will be one thing that coffee drinkers will not have to make a choice about: whether the brew they’re drinking is sustainably sourced.

On National Coffee Day, coffee shops across the United States will offer free cups of java to get you in the door. What is remarkable to me, having worked in the coffee world for over 15 years, is that despite cutthroat competition for your coffee money, these companies are starting to work together for a shared goal: to ensure a sustained supply of coffee that is good for nature and for the 25 million people who grow the crop.

How? It starts with sourcing.

More roasters and retailers are committing to source their coffee only from producers who grow it sustainably. Many of these companies are part of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a coalition of 80 actors from across the coffee sector working to…