Megan's Label Database

Credit: Megan Huff is a student at UC Berkeley. 

For this project, my task was to research where ethically sourced labels (that deal with fair trade, environmental justice, and socially responsible trademarks) are used for coffee in the East Bay. The labels include Fair Trade, USDA organic, Rainforest Alliance Certified, UTZ Certified, Bird-Friendly Certified, Shade Grown, and Direct Trade. The locations where the labels are used includes coffee shops, cafes, and coffee roasting companies. I also took photos of coffee/signs that were sustainably sourced, if the establishment was close by! For my research, I heavily relied on Yelp. I searched coffee and put in the different cities of the East Bay for the location. I made sure to google what cities constitute the East Bay, so I could cover them all. During each search, I took the first 30 results that came up on Yelp that were in the respective city and were categorized “coffee”. Then, if the business had a website, I made sure to visit it and peruse the site to find where they sourced their beans from. Sometimes, I had to dig really deep (blog posts, reports, individual coffee bean listings for sale on the website). If the business didn’t have a website, I checked the photos on Yelp because people usually take pictures of coffee bean bags, menus, signs, and more. In the worst-case scenario, I could not find information. Some coffee shops use roasters that are not located in the East Bay, but I still recorded where they sourced from. As I researched, I made a word document compiled with each coffee shop/roaster sorted by city. Then I highlighted the respective labels with different colors for easy reference. I also included photos that I took from a few coffee shops. Upon researching, I also found some different environmentally-friendly and equitable practices and other certifications: the Farmlevel Initiative, Carbon Neutral, Seed Fund, International Women’s Coffee Alliance, certified kosher, mountain grown coffee, Swiss Water Processed. Some patterns I noticed are that organic and fair trade were the most repetitive labels, while shade grown and bird-friendly certified appeared the least. In addition, as you move away from the cities closest to the water/bay towards more inland (Walnut Creek, San Leandro, Dublin, Lafayette, Pleasanton) there are less specialty coffee shops/roasters and more places that just sell normal coffee (i.e. donut shops, grubby cafes, etc.). This has to do with the demographic and income-level of the people living there, as we learned in Unit IV lectures. Another surprising fact I learned was that “often small lot coffees are not certified organic, even though they are grown organically because small farmers cannot afford to certify their crop” (Alchemy Collective Café).