Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending July 5th

A hand holds a latte with latte art, resting on a folded newspaper

Just a quick roundup this week, as I spent the last few days in upstate New York for the 4th (which, because of dual nationality, is a most confusing American holiday) and haven’t really been keeping up with the coffee news.

Nonetheless, let’s hit the main points and then maybe go make an iced Japanese pour-over and sit outside.

Colombia coffee federation calls for $2 floor for prices - via Reuters

Today, specialty coffee trading is tied to the commodity futures market, leaving it at the whim of traders and wider geopolitical forces, which can lead to the recent crash that saw the international coffee price fall to just 88 cents per pound. Even though it closed at $1.09 the other day, that still puts it far below the break-even price for most farmers.

Sacks of coffee are stacked up on a pallet awaiting shipping

A fix is needed, which is what Roberto Vélez, head of the National Federation of Coffee Growers, is proposing with a $2 floor for specialty coffee, following on from his idea raised back in February to decouple specialty coffee from the C market completely.

Said Vélez: “Is it fair to trade when someone buys your product below the cost of production?”

Reuters points out that Vélez didn’t specify how his $2 base price could be achieved, and his decoupling plan in February was met with, let’s say, skepticism from coffee middlemen. As the report notes, “Coffee exporters and traders said any such move could send buyers looking for other, cheaper suppliers.”

Well yeah, obviously. But it would also allow conscientious people on the consuming end to pay a reasonable amount for coffee, and help make the whole chain more sustainable and equitable.

Read the full story here.

Pabst Blue Ribbon Releases Hard Coffee with 5-Percent ABV - via Food & Wine

You read that right. PBR has jumped headlong onto the coffee bandwagon, and seemingly hit its head in the process.

The new Hard Coffee is basically just one of those canned latte things, but with booze. The company says it will be “a fun and deliciously unique drink made using Arabica and Robusta coffee beans and rich, creamy American milk.”

The result? A “great tasting vanilla infused premium iced coffee with a 5 percent ABV kick.”

At least they’re using American milk.

Read the full story here.

To boost milk, dairy groups support high school coffee bars - via ABC News

Speaking of American milk.

A barista pouring latte art, seen from above

Apparently the rise of alternative milks and more environment-aware diets has Big Dairy running scared, and in response they’re going full tobacco industry by marketing their product directly to children.

Dairy groups all over the US are paying for equipment and signage to encourage schools to set up coffee carts, with the specific goal of selling lattes and other milk-based drinks.

And worry they might. Milk consumption in the US has fallen 40 percent since 1975, with skim milk being hit hardest recently due to changing ideas about fat and nutrition.

The fact that schools are just going along with this is a little worrisome, especially because, as the story notes, “the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine consumption among children, citing potentially harmful effects on developing bodies.”

Read the full story here.

The week in corporate greenwashing

Oh hello, Keurig.

A class action lawsuit against Keurig Green Mountain is moving forward in California, alleging that the company’s stupid little pod things were labeled as “recyclable” even though it’s almost impossible to actually recycle them.

The case is progressing even though Keurig asked for it to be thrown out, citing “their First Amendment right to state their product is recyclable and that [the plaintiff] had not suffered an actual injury because of the company’s labeling.”

Is coffee good for you?

Nothing new, but I did come across this article which contained the following line: “Headline updated from Study Says Coffee Can Prevent Heart Disease to Study Suggests Coffee May Be Associated With Reduced Risk Of Heart Disease” which pretty much sums up all reporting on coffee’s health benefits.

Just excellent work all round.

A man sits on a park bench reading a newspaper

What to read

This Berkeley Man Might Brew The Strongest Coffee In The World. We Tried It. by Michael Rosen

Coffee At Large: Creating An Instagram Movement by Mark Van Streefkerk

How Crop Diversification Can Counter Low Coffee Prices by Sierra Burgess-Yeo

Creating Accessibility In Cafés by Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Until next week, drink good coffee. If you try that PBR monstrosity, let me know.

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