The Black Baza Coffee Co. was started with the simple idea of creating a coffee company that conserves forests, wildlife and water by selling coffee. Their vision is to have a world in which coffee farms support biodiversity and all producers have stable and secure livelihoods.
Arshiya Bose finished her PhD in certifications and sustainable coffee production from the University of Cambridge, UK and at the end of her research found herself with a group of coffee growers who were keen to follow sustainable farming practices but needed market access to enable this.
Black Baza Coffee started as a conservation project to improve the biodiversity on coffee farms in Karnataka. They started selling coffee produced from these farms to incentivize farmers to prevent tree-felling, to promote planting of indigenous tree species, stop the use of chemical pesticide and significantly reduce fertilizers – with the aim of bringing it down to zero.
The company achieves this through conservation agreements with coffee growers who follow certain environmental and social standards and in return, Black Baza Coffee guarantees a buy-back of coffee, improved economic returns, recognition and traceability for best practices.
Black Baza Coffee label themselves ‘biodiversity-friendly’, which means their interventions around farming are beyond any existing certifications, including organic. All of the partner farms follow these principles:
- Coffee is shade-grown
Farms grow coffee under the shade of forest trees, keeping atleast 60% tree canopy cover and a minimum of 100 trees and 20 species of indigenous trees per acre.
There is reforesting of farms by planting rare and endemic forest trees that provide critical habitat for a wide variety of wildlife.
- Protect Water Sources
Streams, rivulets and ponds on farms and surrounds are protected from harmful effluents. Reforesting riversides helps prevent erosion and create stable riverbanks. This includes major rivers like the Cauvery that provides water to millions of people dependent on the river for their basic livelihood.
- No Chemical Pesticides
Coffee is sourced from set-aside areas on farms that use non-chemical methods of controlling pests.
- Biodiversity & Impact Monitoring
There is meticulous monitoring of impacts of changed farming practices through monitoring diversity of trees, birds, insects, mammals and all sorts of biodiversity.
- Committed to Fair Trade
Producers (coffee growers and plantation workers) are empowered to comply with Fair Trade standards for social well being and long-term livelihood security on the farm.
- 100% Traceable
Each cup of coffee is traced back to the ‘conservation block’ on the farm from which the beans were harvested.
The company is now looking to raise working capital to fund everyday operations with the aim of breaking even right from the get-go. Most importantly, the company is looking for you to drink more of India’s first and only biodiversity-friendly coffee!
The startup was connected to Prachi Jain, Vice President Investments, SEAF Agribusiness Fund for advising them on their business model.