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Choosing a sustainable coffee for the KIT offices

At KIT we recently had to change our coffee machines. For many people, a morning coffee is the only way to start the day. In 2019 at the KIT offices, around 3,000 kilos of coffee beans were ground every year to meet the coffee needs of all 1,500 people working here: KIT employees, our SDG House residents and visitors.

At KIT we think that the coffee we consume should not only meet taste expectations, but also contribute to a better planet and to better livelihoods for the farmers. To find out which coffee beans, espresso machines, and supplying partner would best meet our needs, a team of Sustainable Economic Development experts undertook an investigation.

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Watch the first video of our new series, ‘Coffee Stories’, where we talk about this topic!

What is sustainable coffee?

Determining which coffee is the most ‘sustainable’ involves a lot of research. Each brand has a different definition or focuses on different aspects of ‘sustainability’. Coffee brands use many different terms such as 100% organic, climate neutral, free from slave labour or Fairtrade to define sustainability. Each of these has a slightly different focus but can be divided into two main topics: environmental impact and socio-economic impact.

The environmental impact is influenced, among other things, by:

The socio-economic sustainability of coffee is influenced, for example, by:

KIT’s Coffee Assessment Framework

Next to these two criteria, KIT experts also considered the quality of the coffee, and the customer service and price of the coffees. Four topics make up the KIT Coffee Assessment Framework:


From a long list of potential suppliers, the researchers at KIT selected five to conduct more detailed assessments

In the end, two coffee brands came out on top: Moyee, the current supplier of KIT’s coffee, and ThisSideUp/Spot on Coffee Roasters. With ThisSideUp being the importer and Spot onCoffee Roasters the roaster. If you want to know exactly how they scored, you can read the study here: KIT Coffee Study by Andrea Vos

Moyee has been around since 2013 and sources its coffee in East Africa. Moyee stood out most for their unique ‘FairChain Initiative’, where the goal is to keep 50% of coffee revenue in the country of origin, by roasting the beans locally.

This Side Up was also founded in 2013 as a green coffee importer, and established partnerships with producers around the world. As part of their business strategy, This Side Up has several sustainability initiatives, such as the ‘Circular Coffee Collective’. What stood out about This Side Up is that they have a comprehensive profile of their partner producers, and they clearly show a breakdown of the price and revenues behind each kilogram of coffee sourced

The taste test

To make the final decision, both between Moyee and ThisSideUp/Spot on Coffee Roasters were invited to participate in a coffee tasting in the KIT office. For one week the people who work at KIT’s premises tried both coffees on a new machines provided by Moyee and This Side Up. In the end 70 people from 19 different companies voted, and with 40 votes ThisSideUp was the winner!

A new coffee for the office

This Side Up will supply our office with a blend of three of their coffee beans to us, consisting of:

We recently started using the coffee from ThisSideUp for all coffee machines in the officeand have replaced the old coffee machine with new ones. Through this process we have ensured that all people working and visiting our offices can drink a coffee that not only tastes good but does good for the world.