Wind-blown beans deliver emission-free coffee

A growing number of companies are turning to wind-powered sailboats to provide carbon-free transportation – and greener coffee.

Last December, the twin-masted schooner Avontuur loaded 22 tonnes of Colombian organic coffee from the port of Santa Marta. With a crew of 16, she crossed the Atlantic in two months to reach the port of Bordeaux.

The sailing trip saved more than three tonnes of CO2, according to Belgian roaster Javry, which acquired the order last month.

Today, Javry is one of a growing number of roasters offering their customers carbon-free coffee.

“When we decided to embark on the adventure of imported coffee under sail, we didn’t even look at the price. Ecology is part of our company’s DNA,” said Pierre-Yves Orban, co-founder and CTO of Javry. World TRT. “When we had the opportunity to have carbon-free transport, we did not hesitate.”

Javry currently imports around 50 tonnes of coffee per year and expects that to rise to over 100 tonnes by 2025. Orban says the goal is to import at least 50 tonnes of coffee per sailboat by 2025.

The goal, argues Orban, is to show that alternative transportation exists and can work. “We want to educate end consumers but also other brands and manufacturers who could follow our example.”

Leaving Colombia, around 22 tons of green coffee crossed the Atlantic to reach France in two months, saving more than 3 tons of CO2. (Javry)

French sailing freight company, TransOceanic Wind Transport (TOWT), was in charge of chartering the shipment of green coffee from Javry along with four other roasters who agreed to buy the 22 tons of fair trade Colombian beans .

Founded in 2011, TWOT’s mission is to decarbonize the maritime industry by restoring the transport of goods by sail. It aims to develop cargo sailboats to become as competitive as traditional fuel-powered cargo.

“We want to demonstrate that ecological sailing can be credible and economically viable,” said Yael Soubeyran, TWOT’s development and public relations officer. World TRT.

At the moment, TWOT transports with 17 different old ships, including Avontuur, a century-old Dutch commercial vessel equipped with solar panels and wind turbines, with a capacity of 114 tons.

The company expects its future sailing freighters to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 90% on standard transatlantic routes compared to the same route for the same volume of cargo in the conventional thermal-powered sector.

French company TransOceanic Wind Transport (TOWT) will soon launch its first fleet of decarbonized vessels on an industrial scale, as it aims to disrupt the conventional shipping industry.

French company TransOceanic Wind Transport (TOWT) will soon launch its first fleet of decarbonized vessels on an industrial scale, as it aims to disrupt the conventional shipping industry. (TOWT)

So far, TOWT has generated more than €1 million ($1.05 million) in revenue. By 2025, it guarantees that 9,600 tons of CO2 will be saved annually from and to the port of Le Havre, while 72,000 tons per year of goods will be switched to low-carbon transport.

Soubeyran said TOWT is benefiting from 150 million euros ($158 million) of planned business related to a number of major French brands. One of them, Belco, is a sustainable coffee importer that serves around 1,000 specialty roasters across Europe like Javry.

By sailboat, a 5,225 nautical mile trip from Brazil to the port of Le Havre carrying Belco’s coffee beans would take 21 days and have a near-zero carbon footprint. A traditional shipping container, meanwhile, would have emitted nearly two tonnes of carbon.

Belco has received enough positive feedback that they now plan to import around 4,000 tonnes – around half of their total coffee beans – by sea by 2025.

But to do that, they’ll need a bigger boat – and TWOT aims to provide just that. By summer 2023, TOWT plans to launch the first of its own fleet of freighters, which will hold up to 1,100 tons. Four more will follow by 2026.


A first in the industry, TWOT also uses a label called ANEMOS: a certificate that guarantees customers a carbon-free transit of their products. A QR code is provided which includes a decarbonization report, crew testimonials and stopovers on the journey. To date, the company has sold more than one million ANEMOS labeled products.

Across the Atlantic, Costa Rica-based logistics agency SAILCARGO plans to build its own flagship sustainable vessel by 2023. Called the Ceiba, it is considered the world’s largest clean ocean freighter, built from regenerative wood that can carry 250 tons.

One of SAILCARGO’s partners is Canadian coffee roaster Café William, which has invested in the Ceiba to transport coffee beans from South America to its roasting plant in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

“We want to leave a legacy, to do something bigger than ourselves,” said Jean-Philippe Marcoux, Marketing Director of Café William. World TRT. “We decided that shipping coffee in a greener way was a worthy goal.”

Canada’s largest coffee roaster focused on producing organic and fair trade coffees for the retail market, Café William sees itself at the forefront of reimagining the future of coffee production.

Marcoux mentioned that emission-free shipping is only one piece of the green coffee puzzle. The company has invested more than $10 million in a new eco-friendly roasting plant and is also planning to buy electric trucks, all in a bid to “provide green coffee at every step of the coffee chain.” supply,” he said.

Conscious consumption

While the volume of ships on offer remains limited, the growing interest in carbon-neutral alternatives to traditional fossil fuel-powered tankers and aircraft is likely to push companies in the sector to consider new supply chain practices and new shipping companies.

Beyond reducing the carbon footprint, many industry players are looking to shorten the supply chain to enable more transparency for customers and fairer pricing.

For Soubeyran, while prices are a challenge at the moment, they will change as the industry evolves. “Yes, sailing prices are slightly higher,” he said. “Shipping is so cheap, and we’re still in an economy where people are used to finding the cheapest options.”

“But I think that’s changing as more consumers look for ethical options, and we’re promoting cleaner transport which can also be leveraged in terms of marketing.”

Not to mention there is the added benefit of not being dependent on oil price volatility, Soubeyran added. Tall ships have engines to use whenever needed, otherwise they are driven only by the wind.

For Javry, sailing costs almost 20 times more than traditional transport. To keep the coffee affordable, Orban said Javry is reducing its margin and picking up some of the extra cost. “At the end of the day, the package only costs the consumer a few euros more than they normally would,” he said.

“Consumers are becoming more aware of what they are buying and how they are buying,” said Marcoux, adding that consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium for greener coffee and roasters are rising to the challenge. to provide it to them.

“We are also thinking about this in the long term and from a B2B [business-to-business] perspective, and we expect there will soon be more coffee suppliers heading in the same direction.

Source: World TRT

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