Mother Parkers asks consumers to join clean water cause

Coffee roaster launches fundraising to help Ethiopian communities

It’s 7 a.m. Do you know how your coffee got from the farm to your cup? Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee is aiming to make the connection between consumers’ morning brew and the people living in coffee-growing regions.

As part of its non-profit Water Wise Coffee program, Mother Parkers has launched a fundraising drive that will help clean polluted rivers in Ethiopia’s Sidama region.

In 2012, Mother Parkers created Water Wise Coffee as part of its broader commitment to sustainability. As the company explained, in some coffee-producing regions, the wet milling process of extracting beans from the coffee cherries produces organic waste that can pollute local water supplies. The Water Wise Coffee program helps mill owners naturally filter water using a sustainable grass called vetiver.

Mother Parkers said there are now 26 wet mills with vetiver grass wetlands and the company plans to convert 220 wet mills in Ethiopia by 2020.

This year, Mother Parkers is appealing to conscientious coffee drinkers to help in its mission, asking for donations through its redesigned website. Mother Parkers will match up to $100,000 in public donations, in addition to its ongoing, multi-year funding commitment.

“While Fair Trade and some of the early movements have been very clear about the fact that farmers are poor, not a lot of people understand how coffee gets to their cup,” said Sean Bredt, VP of coffee and allied products at Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee, which produces private label coffee for retailers and foodservice companies, as well as its own brands including Higgins & Burke tea, and Mother Parkers, Brown Gold, Martinson and Marley Coffee.

“Helping live better through water-based programs is an area that and it’s also an area that is very emotionally rich for consumers.”

Indeed, research conducted for Mother Parkers before the program launched found that water-related issues are a big area of concern for the majority of Canadian coffee drinkers. A survey of 1,380 consumers found their concerns around water include: drinking water quality (69%), water quality (68%), drinking water availability (59%), water conservation (54%) and global water resources (51%).

“This gave us kind of the focus of where we wanted to go,” said Bredt. While Mother Parkers is of the largest roasters of “cause-related coffee,” such as Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance coffee, the company wanted to get more directly involved in a sustainability program, he explained.

was both because of our size, but also because of the credibility we think it brings us to have direct involvement in a program,” he said. “You’re not just standing behind a certification, you physically understand what’s involved to make a difference.”

Aside from giving back, Mother Parkers also wants to deepen connections with consumers, particularly millennials. “They’ve grown up in a very media-savvy world and understand that it’s more than just simply profits, that companies need to stand for a much broader perspective,” said Bredt. “They want to be more involved with the companies and the brands that do this type of thing because they take a wider view of social responsibility.”

Mother Parkers is promoting the fundraising drive through its website, social media using the hashtag #WaterWiseMovement, public relations, blogger outreach and a documentary featuring Rohan Marley, founder and chairman of the Marley Coffee Company and son of the legendary musician Bob Marley. Dashboard created the documentary and redesigned website, and Brown & Cohen is handling PR.

The Water Wise Coffee program is administered by TechnoServe, a not-for-profit organization that develops business solutions to address global poverty.

This article first appeared on

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds