Does the Coffee Industry actually contribute to Bean Belt countries’ prosperity or is that just a myth?

Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world, this just gives the idea of how many farmers work in coffee fields and how much coffee is bought and consumed around the world every day. That also demonstrates how many human rights are violated every day. 

Countries in South America, Center Africa and South Asia are also known as Bean Belt countries. Those are the countries that harvest the coffee beans which make up your coffee. But is the price of your coffee the only one that’s being paid? 

There have been researches on Nespresso and Starbucks which have proven that these coffee industries have been exploiting children and their parents to get more coffee, in less time, at a cheaper price. While Starbucks declares that these children are getting cared for as well as educated; Oliver Holland of solicitors Leigh Day says “If children are working 40 hours a week, there is no way they can also be having a proper education” (The Guardian). Apparently, the children are getting paid based on the weight of the beans they picked and they wage a little less than what you pay for your latte. 

Companies like Nespresso and Starbucks are NGOs (non-governmental organisations), meaning that they don’t respond to any of the host country’s laws. In fact, one of the things that Starbucks has been accused of is “The violation of Brazilian labour law” (Mongabay). There is also an overall violation of human rights for the farmers, the people, working in these coffee fields who don’t have any better option: “People trafficked to work for little or no pay, and forced to live on rubbish heaps and drink water alongside animals, may have worked on plantations that supply the two companies” (The Guardian). 

More specifically, in Papua New Guinea these human rights violations are still happening but people are willing to do something about it, specifically Millennials. This group of activist Millennials are finding sustainable solutions to let the farmers grow a greater variety of coffee beans which are also a better quality for the consumers. Perfect Daily Grind has proven that consumers are willing to pay a little bit more to contribute to a better life for the farmers. This group of activists also aims to let women work in the coffee industry too so they can bring more money home and not be reliant on their husbands “Endemic violence against women and a lack of rights mean that PNG women are some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the world.” (Perfect Daily Grind). 

Therefore, NGOs like Nespresso and Starbucks do contribute to your daily breakfast, meal or snack but at the same time, violate their farmers’ rights. Finally, on a brighter and inspirational note, NGO states “The trick to keep on developing is cementing the bond between consumers and producers lies in developing reliable, transparent systems and markets that are easily accessible by all” (Perfect Daily Grind). 

Works Cited

Camargos, Daniel. “Labor Rights Violations at Brazil Coffee Farm Linked to Starbucks, Nespresso.”, 30 Sept. 2021, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Doward, Jamie. “Children as Young as Eight Picked Coffee Beans on Farms Supplying Starbucks.” The Guardian, 2020, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

Hodal, Kate. “Nestlé Admits Slave Labour Risk on Brazil Coffee Plantations.”, 2016, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

“Staging a Coffee Comeback in Papua New Guinea.”, 16 Nov. 2019, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.

By Luiza G10