Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending December 20th

An espresso sits atop a newspaper, seen from above

Hello and welcome to another Coffee News Roundup, coming to you from a small town in western New York state, where I am spending the weekend. Due to this fact, and the spotty internet connection, this week’s Roundup will be a truncated one.

Let’s see what’s been going on.

The Price Of Coffee On The C-Market Just Took A Huge Jump - via Sprudge

Coffee reached $1.39 per pound on the commodity markets this week,  a three year high and an increase of 38% in 2019.

Sacks of green coffee stacked up on a pallet

Great news, right? Increased prices means more money going to farmers, allowing them to feed their families and invest in their futures.

But why has it suddenly spiked? Why so stark a leap, and why now?

Well, as we’ve discussed here before, it’s all about supply and demand. There was, for a time, a glut of coffee waiting in warehouses in Brazil and other countries waiting to be sold. That drove the price down, leading to those sub-one-dollar lows we saw in the spring.

This year’s harvest, however, has been slower than expected, with Brazil running low on green beans and several other countries also seeing a production decline. Hence, prices spike.

As Zac Cadwalader succinctly puts it in Sprudge: “Were it not for the price hovering under a dollar for not insignificant portions of 2019, we would decry $1.40 as an immorally low price, which it is! But because of where the price has been in the bizarro world we live in, $1.40 is almost worth celebrating. Almost.”

Read the full story here.

JAB Merges Peet’s and JDE to Form Mega Coffee Company for IPO - via Daily Coffee News

It’s been a little while since we’ve heard from JAB Holdings, the shadowy German conglomerate that made waves a couple of years ago by buying up basically every coffee company in America.

A French press pouring coffee into a cup in closeup

Now, after apparently spending long enough on the sidelines, the folks behind JAB have decided to jump back into the coffee industry news maelstrom.

Their new plan? Merge Peet’s and Jacobs Douwe Egberts into one mega company, then take that beast public with an IPO in 2020.

(As an aside, is there a less appealing name for a coffee company than Jacobs Douwe Egberts? I know it’s beside the point, but Jacobs Douwe Egberts just doesn’t make me want a delicious cup of whatever it is they specialize in.)

It’s a rather ignominious comedown for Peet's, founded in Berkeley in 1966 and famous for spearheading the specialty coffee scene as well as inspiring the founders of Starbucks.

JAB aims to raise upwards of $3.35 billion through the IPO, and expects the merged JDE Peet’s company to earn $7.81 billion across 140 countries. Daily Coffee News names the brands involved in the merger as “Peet’s, JDE, L’OR, Jacobs Coffee, Douwe Egberts, Senseo, Tassimo, Moccona, Kenco, Pickwick and Pilão”, some of which I’m sure are made up, while Stumptown and Intelligentsia, both owned by Peet’s, will also be part of it.

Read the full story here.

EU court finds grounds for airline damages in spilled coffee - via ABC News

Good news! If you’re drinking coffee on an airplane (and you probably shouldn’t) and you spill it, you can just sue the airline for being stupid enough to serve you a hot beverage.

It doesn’t even have to be caused by turbulence or snakes or other flight-related events; you can knock your cup over while rummaging for that neck pillow you finally remembered to bring, and the airline has to cough up.

The perfect crime.

Read the full story here.

The week in corporate greenwashing

Lavazza, in partnership with TerraCycle, has recycled more than 156 million coffee pods over the last ten years. Honestly, I’m not sure if this strictly counts as greenwashing or not, but I’m putting it here anyway because, well, they wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t trying to gain some green cred, would they?

It’s actually quite an impressive achievement, because Lavazza puts all the onus for recycling on consumers/businesses: to join, you have to visit a website and sign up for the scheme (assuming your business is “serviced by an authorized Lavazza Professional distributor”), then print a shipping label and post your used pods to TerraCycle to recycle (as long as you’re using “Flavia Freshpack” pods).

The fact that 156 million of the things have been sent in is quite remarkable, and shows just how much regular people care about recycling (and how much the corporations that create the waste have been able to fob off responsibility for dealing with said waste onto the consumer).

Is coffee good for you?

Yes! It can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research, “but only filtered coffee, rather than boiled coffee”.

Now, I’m not really sure what “boiled coffee” is, but according to the article it is a brew method “sometimes used in Sweden and some other countries, in which coarse ground coffee is simply added directly to boiling water and left to brew for a few minutes.” Turkish and Greek coffee are also lumped into this genre, even though in their cases the coffee is ground very fine.

The article also doesn’t really clarify what “filtered” coffee is, but it appears to mean coffee made using a paper filter. It’s almost like they don’t quite know what’s going on either.

Apparently the key here are diterpenes, a type of molecule that is present in boiled coffee but trapped when brewing filter coffee. The scientists think that it’s the lack of this molecule that lowers risk of type 2 diabetes, because “previous studies have shown that boiled coffee increases the risk of heart and vascular diseases, due to the presence of diterpenes.”

The researchers were quick to point out that no conclusions can be drawn to other brewing methods, such as espresso or French press, that don’t use a paper filter.

Look, who knows. It appears filtered coffee is good for you, so that’s what I’m choosing to take from this confusing article.

A man sits on a bench reading a newspaper

What to read

This Space Is For The Baristas by Florence Fabricant

Cafés With A Cause by Kaitlin Throgmorton

Foster Coffee Grows Faster With New East Lansing Cafe by Me!

Labour’s Long Route Back To Power Appears To Rely On Denouncing Coffee by Joel Golby

Until next week, drink good coffee.

You Might Also Like                                  

          Nov 24, 2023                                Connecting the Dots: Inside the 2023 Coffee Barometer        Nov 24, 2023                       Nov 24, 2023                                

          Oct 21, 2023                                'Specialty Coffee Should be Enjoyed by Those Who Grow It': The Farmer's Daughter Joining Kenya's Coffee-drinking Revolution        Oct 21, 2023                       Oct 21, 2023                                

          Oct 6, 2023                                Stealth Starbucks: A Premonition of Modern Specialty Coffee        Oct 6, 2023                       Oct 6, 2023                                

          Sep 22, 2023                                Can the Coffee Change Fund Save Coffee?        Sep 22, 2023                       Sep 22, 2023                                

          Sep 8, 2023                                Upcycled Coffeewashing        Sep 8, 2023                       Sep 8, 2023                                

          Aug 25, 2023                                From A Concerned Farmer        Aug 25, 2023                       Aug 25, 2023                                

          Aug 11, 2023                                Philly is a (Coffee) Union Town        Aug 11, 2023                       Aug 11, 2023                                

          Jul 28, 2023                                South Korea's Coffee Wars        Jul 28, 2023                       Jul 28, 2023                                

          Jul 14, 2023                                Camp Coffee, Colonialism, and the Evolution of a Brand        Jul 14, 2023                       Jul 14, 2023                                

          Jun 30, 2023                                Defiance and Gay Frog Donuts: How Strange Matter Coffee is Navigating the Anti-LGBTQ+ Backlash        Jun 30, 2023                       Jun 30, 2023