COFFEE NEWS ROUNDUP: WEEK ENDING AUGUST 24TH

An espresso atop a newspaper, seen from above

It's been a busy week in the coffee industry.

So much so that this goofy news roundup article might be a bit longer and a touch more serious than usual. But rest assured, if you make it to the end there are a couple of reliably silly stories to lighten the tone. 

Let's dive right in.

Colombia to consider aiding struggling coffee farmers - via Nasdaq.com

There has been a surprising lack of reporting on this story: the fact that C market prices (the global base price for commodity coffee, upon which most specialty prices are based) hit a twelve-year low this week, dropping below $1 per pound on Wednesday. (As of this article's writing, the price had climbed slightly to just above $1.)

Coffee cherries on a tree in Colombia

In fact, this Nasdaq story about the Colombian government mulling over additional subsidies for those growers hit worst by the price drop was the only one I felt comfortable citing—most others had appalling titles like "Coffee - Consumers Rejoice As Producers Suffer" and "Coffee prices plunge as oversupply of beans flood the world market... but it won't affect the price of your latte".

It shouldn't have to be repeated, but your coffee is too cheap. The sheer amount of effort taken to get a pound of coffee from the mountainside where its grown to your kitchen table is extraordinary, and the price should reflect that. 

Anyway.

An article was circulating on Twitter a couple of days ago which said (in Spanish, so forgive the dodgy Google translation) that Colombian farmers are planning a protest on August 27th, refusing to sell any coffee on the New York Stock Exchange unless the price goes above $1.40 per pound.

Maybe at that point people will take notice.

Read the full story here.

India's Coffee Output Seen Plunging to Two-Decade Low on Floods - via Bloomberg

Climate change is already having an impact on coffee production. India's historic monsoon floods have seen the country's coffee output drop 25%, as heavy rains and landslides cause devastation across the region.

Kerala is India's second-largest coffee growing region, after neighboring Karnataka, and has been hit by the worst floods in over a century, with nearly 400 deaths reported so far.

And of course, because this is Bloomberg, there's a throwaway comment about the floods positively affecting the global coffee price, so that's good.

Read the full story here.

Coffee exporters struggle to find ships for Brazil bumper crop - via Reuters

And now we get to Brazil, which has too much coffee

A container ship on the ocean, seen from the side

The Brazilian government is calling it a record year for coffee production, with July's shipments up 28% over the previous year. So much so, there aren't enough ships to export all the coffee, and it's causing delays in delivery to consumer countries. 

That's right, too much coffee means there's not enough coffee. 

I don't know what's happening anymore. 

Read the full story here.

Coffee Considered New Cash Crop in San Diego - via NBC San Diego

I really don't know what's happening anymore. Coffee is now not only growing in Southern California, it's actually being sold via Blue Bottle. 

Low food miles is an upside, I suppose, although the amount of water needed to keep the trees healthy doesn't bear thinking about.

Read the full story here.

Four Barrel has not yet shifted ownership to employees as promised - via San Francisco Chronicle

Of course it hasn't. 

A barista pours latte art

In what was definitely not a shameless PR move, after sexual assault allegations forced Four Barrel founder Jeremy Took to leave the company, the remaining owners pledged to divest their ownership and hand over control to their employees. 

That was back in January. Has anything happened? No.

Is Four Barrel still open, under its original name? Yes.

Read the full story here.

IBM has invented coffee drones – and they predict when you need a cup - via CNBC

Yes, because what could possibly go wrong with an autonomous flying robot carrying hot coffee and reading your face to see if you need a cup.

But don't worry, because "the drone could cross-reference medications that interact with caffeine and know whom not to serve, if granted access to a coffee lover's medical information."

Nothing scary about that.

Read the full story here.

A surprising number of Americans would give up their phone for coffee - via The Ladders

Of course they would. It's a drug and we're all addicted. 

Read the full story here.

Single-celled organisms could help turn coffee grounds into coffee cups - via New Atlas

Finally some good news. An Australian PhD student has devised a way to turn used coffee grounds into lactic acid, which can be used to make plastic.

A white single-use coffee cup sits on a marble table.

Hence, coffee grounds into coffee cups. 

The most interesting part of the story is that the inspiration for the work was "an evolutionarily ancient organism" called Thermoplasma acidophilum, which is a single-celled organism that lives in hot, acidic conditions. 

Sounds like the start of a sci-fi movie to me.

It should be noted that his work is yet to be peer-reviewed, so could well turn out to be bunkum. But still, evolutionarily ancient organism—what's not to like?

Read the full story here.

 

This PC has a built-in coffee maker - via PC Gamer

You know what's always welcome around expensive and fragile computer equipment? A hot liquid prone to spillage. 

Sadly, this extremely niche device doesn't use the computer's own heat to make coffee—it actually just has a Nespresso machine bolted onto it, which is slightly deflating.  

Read the full story here.

Is coffee good for you?

Not this week. Unless you're a consumer and the idea of low coffee prices and bankrupt farmers fills your heart with joy. 

A man sits on a bench reading a newspaper with a cup of coffee beside him.
Coffee NewsFionn Poolerb