Coffee has become the second most traded commodity in the world, following crude oil, and it seems our thirst for a strong, rich and flavoursome coffee will not cease anytime soon.
In a society where coffee connoisseurs have raised the bar through the delicacy of bean roasting and latte art, Australians have developed a taste for high-quality coffee blends.
While many sit in favourite cafes, stare at the milk as it is frothed, and smell the coffee in the air – do they know where their beloved beans come from?
According to the Food Empowerment Project, coffee has a long history of slavery, child labour, and environmental impacts. Danwatch, an independent media and research centre, shed light on the poor working conditions within the coffee industry. It followed allegations that coffee giants Nestle and Jacob Douwe Egberts were involved in buying beans harvested by workers employed under ‘slave-like’ conditions.
The companies admitted their beans may have been harvested in plantation areas that were associated with slave labour, however they argue it is part of an endemic problem in Brazil.
“No company sourcing coffee and other ingredients from the country can fully guarantee that it has completely removed forced labour practices or human rights abuses from its supply chain,” they told RT.
With six cafes located within the University of Wollongong, we talk to Demelza Jones from Rush 2, UOW staff member Aaron Hull and coffee drinker Jarrod Wynn about ethical coffee.