While Laird Superfood uses water intensive and contaminating processes to process their coffee beans and has a higher carbon footprint due to international shipping, the brand uses organic ingredients and ethically sourced, shade grown coffee to prevent rainforest degradation. Also, at $14.95 per 12 oz their coffee beans are relatively inexpensive, especially for higher end coffee brands. If you are someone that wakes up every morning craving a cup of coffee, but you are also someone that cares about sustainability, health, and ethically sourced products then you should consider buying from Laird Superfood!
Laird Superfood prides themselves on their products being made from solely whole food ingredients, so I wasn’t surprised to see the simple and healthy ingredients in their mushroom coffee. The ingredients of every Laird Superfood product are laid out clearly on each product’s page on their website, making it easy for the health-conscious consumer to know exactly what they are purchasing. The Medium Roast Ground Mushroom Coffee has four simple ingredients: organic Chaga mushroom, organic Cordyceps mushroom, organic Lion’s Mane mushroom, and organic Peruvian coffee. The Peruvian coffee beans are USDA Certified Organic, hand-picked and shade-grown at high-altitude coffee groves in Peru. This type of coffee bean, known as Strictly Hard Bean, is grown above 4,000 feet altitude in the Andes.
Laird Superfood does not explain where the organic Chaga, Cordyceps, and Lion’s Mane mushrooms are sourced from. Chaga mushrooms are rare mushrooms that cannot be cultivated domestically and are found on birch trees in cold northern climates. Cordyceps mushrooms are most commonly found in tropical rainforests in Asia. Lion’s Main mushrooms are found throughout the Northern United States and Canada.
The Medium Roast Mushroom Coffee comes in a plastic packaging system that replaces oxygen with food-grade nitrogen to keep the coffee from going stale. According to Laird Hamilton, coffee gets stale just two weeks after exposure to oxygen! That means that most of our coffee is already stale once it reaches our shelves. While this coffee’s packaging is made of plastic (bummer), it allows the coffee to last about 6 months before it goes stale, so it prevents more food waste than other coffee packaging.
The Peruvian coffee beans are grown organically in a high-altitude valley in the Andes. Instead of clear-cutting the forest so they can grow coffee, the farmers grow the coffee underneath the forest overstory. Shade grown organic coffee is not only better for the planet but also tastes better and is better for your health! The coffee beans are allowed to mature slowly and no chemicals or pesticides are used during the process.
Once the beans are hand-picked, the flesh is then removed from the beans and they undergo a special process called wet processing. This prevents mold contamination and flavor degradation of the coffee. While wet processing may make the consumer happier because their coffee beans will keep their superior flavor, wet processing is the most water intensive way of processing coffee beans. Apparently it can take approximately 40 liters of water to wet process just 1 kilo of coffee! Not only does this process use a lot of water, but it also produces acetic acid wastewater which is often expelled into local waterways and has negative impacts on the aquatic environments.
Next, the beans are slow-roasted in small batches in a drum roaster and then shipped to the Laird Superfoods factory in Sisters, Oregon. Laird Superfood does not describe how or where the mushrooms are found and processed, but it is likely that since the Cordyceps mushroom is most commonly found in Asia it would also have to be put on a boat and shipped to the factory in Sisters, Oregon. Sadly, since some of the ingredients in this coffee have to be shipped internationally, it is likely that this product’s individual carbon footprint is much higher than locally sourced coffee beans. Once the coffee beans and mushrooms make it to the Laird Superfoods factory in Oregon they are turned into a powder or ground up, mixed together, packaged, and then shipped.
Laird Superfood was founded by Laird Hamilton, a professional surfer and whole foods advocate. Hamilton’s products began with the simple goal of maintaining consistent energy throughout the day while eating a plant-based diet. With Laird Superfood Laird Hamilton was able achieve that goal and much more. Laird Superfood aims to be responsibly sourced and organically grown (when possible). They are Fair Trade Certified, but do not explain their worker’s conditions or how much they are paid in Peru. In the Sisters factory they have a devoted Sustainability Team that makes regular evaluations of their manufacturing processes, raw ingredients, and packaging materials.
Laird Superfood chose to put their factory in Sisters, Oregon because they wanted to choose a location that would impact the local economy in a positive way. Sisters, Oregon does not have many job opportunities for middle class workers, so the Laird Superfood factory has created jobs for people that live in Sisters. People that work at the factory compost and recycle whenever possible and Laird Superfood offers sustainable commute benefits for employees. Laird Superfood is also in the process of upgrading to solar power in the Sisters factory!