Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending July 31st

An espresso cup sits atop a magazine on a table, seen from above. Via PxHere

An espresso cup sits atop a magazine on a table, seen from above. Via PxHere

One week, there’s no coffee news. The next, too many articles to fit into one Roundup.

The big stories this week are, it must be said, pretty huge. And pretty gloomy.

All the classics are here: you’ve got your climate denialism, your disaster capitalism, and that old favorite, wage theft. Oh and for some reason there’s coffee cereal too, because why not.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Colombia’s National Coffee Organization Profits Off Climate Change Denial - via Vice News

The Colombian National Coffee Federation (Fedecafé) is the country’s coffee trade organization that is supposed to look after the welfare of the 540,000 producers it represents. Founded in 1927, it is popularly known for its Juan Valdez advertising campaign.

While Fedecafé is touted as one of the reasons for Colombia’s coffee-growing success—the country is the third largest exporter in the world—it demands farmers join its organization and requires them to pay six cents for every pound of coffee they export.

Also, it is rife with climate change denial.

It’s probably not surprising: Fedecafé makes its money from coffee farmers, and if climate change causes those farmers to switch crops or, worse, quit the industry altogether, then Fedecafé loses its income stream.

According to Vice News, the federation “rejects humanity’s scientifically proven role in climate change, instead explaining recent weather changes away as part of a ‘natural cycle.’”

Meanwhile, the mountain range where much of Colombia’s coffee is grown “is warming by 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade, according to a study published in Coffee & Cocoa International last year, an astonishing rate that is nearly double the global average increase of 0.17 degrees.”

And the farmers know it. One PhD candidate interviewed 45 Colombian coffee farmers, and found that “more than 90 percent said there had been changes in average temperatures on their land, 74 percent said droughts had become more severe, and 61 percent spoke of an increase in mountainside erosion and landslides caused by heavy rains.”

And Fedecafé doesn’t seem to even really be helping them. “The state policies do not offer us subsidies or fair prices, even though we work so hard to produce a good product,” one farmer told Vice News. “Instead of helping us, the state is squeezing us.”

In other news, the general manager of Fedecafé has a yearly salary of $350,000.

Read the full story here.

Local coffee shops are being forced out of business by the pandemic — and Dunkin' wants to cash in on their demise - via Business Insider

There’s a book called The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. In it, Klein explores how neoliberal free market capitalists take advantage of crises—natural disasters, wars, political upheaval—to push through profiteering, corporate-friendly policies such as privatizations and asset stripping.

Anyway, now let’s look at a completely unrelated story about Dunkin’ eyeing shuttered coffee shop locations in the midst of a global pandemic and economic turmoil.

Two hands cheersing with Dunkin’ coffee cups. Via Unsplash

Two hands cheersing with Dunkin’ coffee cups. Via Unsplash

Probably no connection here.

According to Business Insider, “As the industry struggles, Dunkin' sees the closures of local coffee shops as an opportunity for the chain to expand.”

The article continues: “Dunkin' Brands CEO David Hoffmann said that Dunkin' is well-positioned compared to struggling independent coffee shops as a low-touch, affordable option that people visit regularly.”

Said Dunkin’ America president Scott Murphy on a call with investors: “I do think there are going to be some industry closures, especially from the independents.”

A report in June found that 85% of restaurants could close by the end of 2020 without government intervention. Just this week Daily Coffee News reported that 60% of restaurant closing since March are now permanent.

Yep, everything’s fine.

Read the full story here.

Augie’s Union Alleges Over $140,000 In Wage Theft Violations - via Sprudge

Jeez, it really doesn’t end does it.

Earlier this month came news that Augie’s Coffee had shut all its cafes amid claims of union-busting from fired employees. The company said it was due to COVID-19.

Now, the nascent Augie’s Union alleges that the company engaged in systematic wage theft, to the tune of $140,000 which averages out to $7,000 per employee.

The union asserts that the wage theft came in the form of unpaid overtime and violations of break time laws—something that anyone who has worked in the coffee industry will tell you is not unheard of.

Augie’s, of course, rejects the allegations and says that “We have not seen any of these alleged claims and have been advised by counsel not to discuss the matter further at this time.”


Read the full story here.

Dunkin' and Post released coffee-flavored cereals with caffeine - via USA Today

Okay finally we get to the really important story of the week, the Pourover’s bread and butter, the good stuff: coffee-flavored cereal (with caffeine!) thanks to a collaboration between Post and. . . ah.


Well, I suppose it was either going to be them or the ultimate Pourover nemesis, a certain Swiss coffee cartoon villain conglomerate.

Let’s look at these “cereals” then, shall we. You have a choice of two, you lucky thing: first up, Caramel Macchiato—okay, sure. Seems a bit obvious, but fine. This cereal apparently has “caramel-swirled marshmallows to mimic the taste of the layered iced coffee beverage.”

Second choice is Mocha Latte. A little tired, it has to be said. At least have some imagination. But what’s it like? This one “has a chocolatey flavor with latte-swirled marshmallows to taste like an espresso.”


“Coffee and cereal are the ultimate breakfast go-tos, ranking as the top two most consumed items to help people start their day,” said some shiny brand guy. “Getting the flavor right on our new cereals was a top priority, and we think we've nailed the rich, smooth and creamy taste.”

Cereal. With caffeine.

Read the full story here.

More headlines

The 2020 World Coffee Championships Have Been Canceled

Coke With Coffee Will Hit US Stores Next Year (Is this news?)

World’s Youngest Q Grader Launches Youth-Supportive Joven Coffee

COVID-19 Making Existing Matters Worse for Smallholder Farmers, HRNS Study Finds

Coffee cherries on a branch

Coffee cherries on a branch

The Week in Coffee Greenwashing

That article further up about Fedecafé’s climate denialism definitely sounds like greenwashing (the federation’s policies and pronouncements, not the article itself).

Meanwhile, illy plans to be carbon neutral by 2033, and to do this they’ve launched something called the #OneMakesTheDifference project.

The name, as far as I can gather, refers to the idea that everyone can make a difference every day in order to halt the rampaging climate crisis for which a handful of giant corporations are responsible.

Says the marketing fluff on illy’s website: “Our world is one: as unique as the challenges we can overcome only if we act together to protect it. One day at a time, one step after another. Because the difference each one of us makes is unique.”

Is Coffee Good For You?

All the coffee + health news this week relates to the article we discussed last week which in turn related a new study showing that coffee is pretty good for you, all things considered.

The study, which itself studied 95 other studies, showed that drinking coffee lowered the risk of many chronic illnesses, from obesity to heart disease to dementia and some cancers.

The point here is that, by reading the Pourover, you’re ahead of the game on this sort of news.

What to Read

COVID Has Changed How We Drink Coffee by Josh Barro

Take Our 2020 Sprudge Reader Survey

Until next week, drink good coffee. And please, please, wear a mask.

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