Episode 7: Coffee with A Purpose

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka meets with local farmers who produce the beans for Gorilla Conservation Coffee in Uganda. Photo courtesy of Gorilla Conservation Coffee.

Coffee is not only consumed and beloved around the world, but it is also produced in many countries ranging from Costa Rica and Indonesia to Uganda, Brazil and Laos. Though coffee agriculture has not always been equitable for the farmers, there are innovators changing that. In this episode, we talk with two entrepreneurs who have found a way to make coffee into a sustainable and sustaining industry by creating fair-trade projects that not only provide producers with living wages, but also support local conservation and community development efforts.

Kathryn met our first guest, Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, on a trip to Uganda in 2019. Not only is she the first Wildlife Officer of the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, but she is also the founder of an NGO called Conservation Through Public Health that works with communities living around Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to promote gorilla conservation efforts there. She and her husband, Lawrence, founded Gorilla Conservation Coffee to help farmers living around the park support themselves by growing and selling coffee at fair prices.

Among other projects, folks at Saffron Coffee in Laos cultivate coffee plants in a nursery to give to regional farmers as they get started. Photo courtesy of Saffron Coffee.

Next, Eric calls Todd Moore, the director of Saffron Coffee. Along with a lovely little cafe in Luang Prabang, Laos, Saffron Coffee was founded in 2006 to help farmers in the hill villages of northern Laos shift from growing opium to farming coffee. Today, they work with more than 800 farmers in 25 of these villages. That success didn’t come without challenges, though, which we learn during our conversation.

Follow Gorilla Conservation Coffee on Instagram @gorillaconservation_coffee, and Saffron Coffee @saffroncoffee. And as always, be sure to check out our own Instagram feed @conscioustravlerpod.