Coffee beans and ground close-up

Yuban is an inexpensive brand of South American coffee. Its discovery is attributed to John Arbuckle, famous coffee roaster of the 1860s. Arbuckle patented the first national brand of coffee -- ARIOSA--- and was said to be the greatest coffee roaster of his generation. According to Arbuckle Coffee Roasters, until 1865, coffee beans were sold "green" or unroasted. Coffee beans had to be roasted over a wood stove or campfire in a skillet before they could be ground by hand and brewed. Hand roasting was a tricky process, often resulting in burned beans that ruined the coffee's flavor. In 1865, brothers John and Charles Arbuckle patented a roasting process using a sugar and egg glaze on the beans that sealed in the flavor of the beans and shielded them from being burned. The new roasting process led to ARIOSA's popularity and the Arbuckle Coffee Roasting Company's success.

The Yuban Coffee Blend is Invented

Arbuckle invented the original Yuban blend in 1905. The name "Yuban" derives from Arbuckle's Yuletide Blend, in which he used only the best South American beans. According to Yuban Coffee Company, Arbuckle put careful consideration into choosing the beans for his Christmas coffee by looking among the newest shipments so the coffee would be fresh. This holiday blend was only available to dinner guests and as a gift to close friends until 1912, when it was finally made available to the public after Arbuckle's death.

The Modern Yuban Coffee Company

Today, Yuban Coffee comes ground in the traditional sealed coffee cans, or in coffee pods. Coffee pods are individually sealed cups of premeasured grounds, designed for use in single-cup coffee makers. They are packaged in resealable pouches for convenience and freshness. According to Yuban Coffee Company, each container of coffee contains 100 percent premium Arabica beans. Yuban coffee is also available in several varieties, including dark roast, hazelnut and a decaffeinated original blend.

Yuban and the Environment

Owned by Kraft Foods, the Yuban Coffee Company is best known today for its recent certification with the Rainforest Alliance. Awarded in 2006, the certification recognizes Yuban for using ecologically sensitive farming methods to grow at least 30 percent of its beans. This means that at least 30 percent of Yuban coffee is organic and that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not used on the organically grown beans.

Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance requires more than just environmentally friendly farming methods to earn its certification. Farms must also provide fair wages and health care to laborers and keep product quality high with efficient farm management. Certification teams visit farms each year to ensure that standards are met. Since the audit teams are local, both the workers and the owners of the farms they inspect are more willing to openly discuss the state of the farms. The audit teams are then able to make in-depth observations of the farms and often make suggestions for farms to improve productivity.

Criticism of Yuban Coffee

Buying Yuban coffee, or any other Rainforest Alliance certified product, supports rainforest conservation and provides labor on certified farms. However, Yuban has been criticized because its Rainforest Alliance certification comes from only 30 percent of its product. This means that only 30 percent of the grounds or beans in any package of Yuban coffee are organically grown. According to Coffee and Conservation and PBS research, the other 70 percent of Yuban coffee product most likely does not come from ecologically-sensitive farms. Organically grown coffee beans are more expensive than noncertified beans, so to keep the price of Yuban low, noncertified beans must make up the remaining percentage.