The Solution

Watch part 5 of
the documentary

how water wise coffee is making a difference

coffee explained video
Water Wise Coffee™
explained in two minutes
Click to watch

How the Water Wise Coffee approach works

Coffee is the lifeblood of the Sidama region, but it’s also the source of the pollution problem. When mills process the local coffee harvest, they often produce dirty wastewater, which ends up flowing into the river. The Water Wise Coffee Program works with the mills to reduce their water use, compost their coffee waste, and plant a vetiver grass wetland, which keeps waste water out of the rivers. When we test downriver from the mills, we have found that this approach eliminates virtually all of the water pollution caused by coffee processing.

The Water Wise Coffee™ solution combines two key actions:

Click the tabs to see the process.

1. Composting the coffee pulp

The pulp from the coffee cherries is separated from the wastewater and taken off to be prepared as compost, which is given back to local farmers to use on their crops.

The farmers are happy to use the compost because it improves the yield and quality of their coffee plants.

Advisors from TechnoServe, our nonprofit on-the-ground partner, work hand in hand with farmers and wet mill owners to implement this solution.

Learn more about Technoserve
2. Installing Vetiver grass wetlands

The wastewater flows into vetiver grass wetlands, which are installed at the mills with technical assistance from TechnoServe. The water is soaked up by the grass or harmlessly evaporates, and eventually reappears as clean rainwater that feeds the river.

The wet mills are also treating the water with a solution of EM (‘effective microorganisms’), which accelerates decomposition and removes the overpowering smell of fermentation. Because it treats the smell, it also improves the air quality for the workers at the mill.

coffee explained video

Vetiver grass

shannon higgins
& Mother parkers
tea & coffee

Since 1912, Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee has been changing the way people experience their coffee and tea. Their passion for innovation has helped them become the supplier of choice to some of the world’s largest retailers and brand owners. Today, they deliver a better beverage experience with the most innovative formats, flavors and packaging available.

Shannon Higgins is the great-granddaughter of Stafford Higgins, who founded the wholesale grocery distributor Higgins & Burke in Toronto in 1912. Their proprietary coffee brand, Mother Parkers Coffee, rose to #1 in the province by the 1940’s, and the brand has since grown to include other great coffee and tea brands such as Brown Gold, Martinson Coffee, Higgins & Burke, and Marley Coffee.

Shannon is part of a legacy of dedication to coffee that is now over a century old. Water Wise Coffee™ was born out of a sense of responsibility and respect for the environment and the people who contribute at all steps of the process.

visit mother-parkers.com for more