As with any agricultural product, “good” and “bad” exist and it’s generally tied to the process of farming, growing & harvesting. Definitions of “good” and “bad” should not be tied to a variety of the crop or a specific region. For example, it would be grossly unfair to say “green grapes are bad” and “red grapes are good.” The “good” or “bad” we assume is not inherent to the crop itself, but rather to the social constructs and economic systems which shape it.
Yet, robusta – as an entire coffee variety and segment of global coffee farmers – has explicitly been boxed into the “bad” narrative. How is this narrative harmful to global communities? Perpetuating the “robusta is bad” narrative limits the exploration to improve the robusta bean, deprives consumers from having diversity in coffee offerings, and most importantly, traps robusta farming communities around the world in economic exploitation.
Let’s address the fact that yes, a majority of robusta coffee production today is lower grade – there’s a reason for that. Historically and systemically, robusta coffee was pushed into the instant coffee market. Thus, there was no incentive or room for farmers to elevate their product. In fact, if farmers invested the time, money and resources to improve robusta, they could easily end up losing at the end of harvest season when buyers refuse to accept that robusta could be better. For generations, before the explosion of cafe culture from Starbucks to Blue Bottle, people around the world drank instant coffee. There has always been love for robusta coffee whether or not people knew their daily cup of coffee was made from robusta.
Now, what could we achieve as a global community when we reframe our perspective to, “How can we make robusta better?”
The Robusta Pledge is a commitment to advancing opportunities for robusta farming communities through inclusivity, transparency & collective care. Producers, importers, roasters, cafes, businesses and coffee enthusiasts can join the movement by signing The Robusta Pledge. Together, we're telling a new narrative about robusta and shifting the coffee industry.
As we come together to amplify a new narrative about robusta, we’ll create a powerful ripple effect from the consumer to the farmer. By generating awareness, appreciation and excitement for the resilient robusta bean, we will build consumer demand for a transparent robusta market. Through this increased demand and expectation for quality products, robusta farmers around the world will have the opportunity to improve their coffee and ultimately, their livelihoods. Together, we’re building a better coffee future for all.
I pledge to uphold transparency and mention the use of robusta coffee in my products on packaging, menus and website.
I pledge to educate consumers about the differences between arabica and robusta coffee without positioning one variety as inherently superior.
I pledge to create a more inclusive coffee industry by including robusta farming communities in conversations and opportunities for advancement.
If you're a company or professional working within the coffee industry, we invite you to sign The Robusta Pledge. There is no financial commitment required. Early signatories will have their logo displayed below. All signatories will be discoverable in a Live Public Tracker that timestamps their commitment to the robusta movement for diversity, inclusion & sustainability. Signatories will receive the Official Badge of "The Robusta Pledge" to leverage on their own platforms and receive exclusive updates about the Rise of Robusta.
The “supporter” category of The Robusta Pledge is reserved for individuals, organizations and companies who do not buy green coffee, roast or sell coffee but want to show their support to the robusta movement. All signatories will be discoverable in a Live Public Tracker that timestamps their commitment to the robusta movement for diversity, inclusion & sustainability. Signatories will receive the Official Badge of "The Robusta Pledge" to leverage on their own platforms and receive exclusive updates about the Rise of Robusta.
Signatories & supporters of The Robusta Pledge will receive an annual email update about the Rise of Robusta movement. You can view supporters who have signed The Robusta Pledge in the Live Public Tracker here.