a Case of Ethics and Accountability
Blockchain technology is currently disrupting the entire food and drink industry supply chain, and coffee is no different. Coffee on the blockchain opens up all manner of possibilities.
The National Coffee Association ran a survey that found that around 64 percent of Americans aged 18 and over drink coffee on a daily basis.
Even after taking into account the less-caffeinated casual coffee drinkers, this still totals somewhere around 400 million cups of coffee being consumed daily within the United States alone.
Now, before you express amazement at that number, consider the fact that residents of most European countries drink even more coffee on a per-capita basis!
The result is that there are a lot of coffee drinkers!
Questions about ethics
Coffee culture has grown exponentially in recent times, and with it comes awareness and concern for where our coffee comes from, and how it’s produced.
Unfortunately, most consumers aren’t quite as clued up on where their coffee comes from as they’d like to think, with most bags merely being labeled as “100 percent Brazilian Arabica,” for example.
There is also a lot of trust put in the companies who sell us our coffee, but many times even they don’t know the exact origin of their coffee, and despite many claiming that their products are sourced ethically, they can’t verify such claims.
A significant challenge facing the coffee industry is the reliance on unethical labor practices, and while retailers may not directly purchase from specific blacklisted plantations, they can’t trace, and 100 percent verify the sourcing of each bean.
Issues with trust and transparency exist within the coffee industry just like they do in any other. Even the most ethically aware retailer cannot guarantee ethical labor practices because they have a limited scope of the entire process, which contains shippers, intermediaries and so on.
Coffee on the blockchain is the answer
Which is where blockchain technology comes into play.
One of the blockchains unique characteristics is immutability.
Once data has been recorded to the blockchain, it cannot be removed or otherwise altered.
This becomes useful at two stages of the coffee manufacturing process.
Most supply chains haven’t caught up with modern technology, with many still relying on paper, but by digitizing the process, it will reduce costs and introduces trust and transparency to the supply chain.
Coffee on the blockchain could be traced using tags attached to the bags or transportation containers, allowing organizations the use of various factors to ensure the beans inside any containers they receive match the original data.
Ethical labor compliance
A lack of documentation when it comes to plantation workers is a significant issue in the coffee industry. Unscrupulous plantation owners use a lack of documentation as a way to offer low pay and sub-standard working conditions.
Blockchain technology can be used to help identify workers, record their employment contracts, and even record digital payment which will all be available for relevant organizations to check at a later date.
Although blockchain technology provides the chance to record the data, the industry needs adoption from those who are in a position to make it a success, which is where farmers, plantation owners, and retail purchasers come in.
Despite numerous technological advances over the years, the problem of trust and verification has never been solved within the food and drink industry.
Coffee on the blockchain could provide the answer to this long-term question.
Lover of all things crypto, blockchain and AI, professional tech scribe & part of the editorial team at Crypto Disrupt.