Peet’s Coffee & Tea is bringing back its ‘Las Hermanas’ coffee, made by 185 women, on their own land, belonging to a Nicaraguan cooperative. It seems that almost every coffee company nowadays has fair trade certified and organic coffee. In the midst of this growing trend, hot beverage companies are looking to newer ways to differentiate their philanthropic efforts and community-friendly products to an increasingly CSR-aware customer. Pura Vida (company summary on the Business to Nonprofit Connections website) has the sole mission of selling coffee to provide funding for its nonprofit parent. Starbucks has a certification system that aims to be better than that of fair trade. Zhena Gypsy Tea (company summary also on our website) donates profits from its organic fair trade tea to women’s issues&And Peet’s offers Las Hermanas. Women grow the coffee on their own land, and are also responsible for cultivating and tasting the offering. They have sold to Peet’s for five years, and with the money have funded community programs such as a discount pharmacy and local school construction. They represent less than a third the coop, and appear to be especially dedicated to high quality coffee and using money from its sales for community development. Corporate philanthropy and community involvement are becoming more popular in all industry. But especially in the coffee and tea industry, innovative CSR initiatives are becoming a requirement. People have pointed to the relatively small price premium for fair trade products, student involvement, and the coffee industry’s link to disadvantaged communities as explanations for this movement. Yet on a percentage basis the price premium for fair trade coffee is indeed significant, and the latter two explanations seem to be present in almost any industry. Perhaps the explanation is simply that the industry has gained attention, increased customer awareness, and created a demand for more sustainable products. In this case, the opportunity is there for any and all business. Demand and awareness campaigns have driven a standardized and relatively easy to use system of ensuring fair trade. Surely similar international standards could be implemented in other industries? And indeed they have — one example being labor standards for manufacturing. The coffee and beverage example demonstrates the ability to successfully launch these efforts if the will is there. By Louise Doyle For more information please visit the Peet’s CSR press releases at: Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Inc: Las Hermanas information: