Hello from a warm and sunny Scotland. Let’s take a look at the news.
U.S. Coffee Roasters Are Paying Big Premium for Green Beans in Storage - via Reuters
The cost of green beans sold from storage in the United States has risen to ten-year-plus highs, due to a combination of reduced imports and the now-standard transportation and labor costs.
Spot coffees—those available in-country as opposed to awaiting arrival—are usually sold at a premium above the New York ICE futures exchange, and those differentials have increased substantially over the past few months due to the low supply.
For example, Reuters says, “Benchmark Colombian arabicas are selling in the local U.S. spot market at around 85 cents over futures, the highest premium for that coffee since 2009.” The same coffees were 65 cents last year.
One broker at a large US importer told Reuters that “these are some of the highest roaster prices that we’ve seen,” when the already high futures prices are combined with those increased differentials.
The World’s Best Coffee Makers Are Turning to Moldy Beans - via Bloomberg
Moldy beans, eh. That sounds bad. I don’t want to drink moldy coffee.
Oh wait no, it’s just a processing technique using the same stuff that has been utilized in the production of miso, sake, and other fermented foods for thousands of years.
Using koji fermentation on coffee is a relatively new idea, although producers have been experimenting with other types of fermentation during processing for years.
The first koji-fermented coffee was produced in 2020 by the Colombian farm El Vergel Estates in collaboration with the Finnish barista Kaapo Paavolainen and Christopher Feran of Phoenix Coffee in Ohio. Paavolainen used the farm’s second harvest during last year’s World Barista Championships.
The koji process doesn’t impart any flavor of its own; instead, proponents say it can improve the quality and taste of a relatively lacklustre coffee.
“The biggest thing that makes koji great is the potential to grow sweetness in coffees that are lacking, or to enhance a coffee to a higher grade,” Mason Salisbury of Nevada-based Luminous Coffee told Bloomberg.
Feran has a very in-depth look at the process, including instructions for replicating it, on his blog. It’s well worth a read.
Dallas Cowboys Face Backlash After Partnership With Gun-Themed Coffee Brand - via CBS News
However you feel about veteran-owned, lib-baiting Black Rifle Coffee Company, with its blends named "AK-47 Espresso” and "Silencer Smooth", the decision of the Dallas Cowboys to announce a new partnership the day after the horrific mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, and only a few weeks after the horrific mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, was tone-deaf to say the least.
The Cowboys had previously expressed sympathy towards, and donated money to, the survivors and victims’ families in Uvalde, a town 350 miles from the team’s stadium in Arlington. And although the company has ties to Texas, as Eater points out there aren’t any Black Rifle locations in Dallas, or Arlington for that matter, with stores located primarily in suburban or rural areas.
CBS News quotes one reply to the announcement as commenting, "There are veteran-owned coffee companies that don't glorify guns that would be much better partners for 'America's Team’.”
The Week in Coffee Unionizing
- Starbucks Workers United won 82 elections in June, bringing the total stores organized to 182 and the number of unionized workers to 5,000 across the US. 28 new stores filed for elections last month.
- It’s not only the United States, either. Workers at a store in British Columbia, Canada, had their union certification application approved by the British Columbia Labour Relations Board.
- A good article here that goes in depth on the Heine Brothers’ unionization drive in Kentucky, featuring interviews with some of the organizers and looking at the contradictions between the company’s stated progressive values and its treatment of its workers.
Coffee and the Climate Crisis
Tanzania is one of Africa’s largest coffee producers, responsible for 40,000 metric tons of coffee and generating $162 million dollars annually. But farmers in the northern Kilimanjaro region are being forced to move their farms uphill, or sometimes stop growing coffee altogether, due to the impacts of climate change.
Increased temperatures and insect damage have reduced harvests around Kilimanjaro by 75%, according to Damian Mtega, a coffee improvement manager at the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute: “the rising temperatures have brought drought, increased diseases and killed insects that pollinate coffee plants.”
90% of the coffee in Tanzania is grown by smallholder farmers, who are at the most risk from extreme weather conditions brought about by global heating.
For some, there’s no point persisting with coffee at all: “I have lost hope with this crop. I have focused all my attention on bananas and vegetables to earn an extra income because coffee is no longer profitable,” Verdiana Temu, a coffee farmer in Kilema said.
Is Coffee Good For You?
It’s getting better for you, at least.
A new analysis of coffee intake and ischemic heart disease (IHD) has found that the relationship between the two has reversed over the past three decades, with coffee flipping from being associated with an increased risk of heart disease before the 90s to a decreased risk today.
The research, published in Scientific Reports, looked at global observational studies into IHD from various years between 1990 and 2018, cross-referenced them with coffee intake data from similar years, and adjusted for various influencing factors like GDP, alcohol intake and average physical activity. What they saw was that, according to Sprudge, “globally, coffee consumption has trended upward while IHD incidence has gone down.”
But why was coffee associated with IHD to begin with? The researchers posit a few theories, such as the changing way coffee is brewed, and the influence of smoking—the study suggests that “a strong relationship between cigarette smoking and coffee consumption has been reported”, and that perhaps older studies hadn’t sufficiently separated the two activities when looking at their influence on IHD.
What To Read
Until next week, drink good coffee.