Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending May 8th

A white coffee cup with latte art and spoon sits atop a newspaper. Via Pixabay.

A white coffee cup with latte art and spoon sits atop a newspaper. Via Pixabay.

Hello and welcome to another Coffee News Roundup, where this week there…



[tumbleweed rolls past]

I see.

Yes, not a lot has happened over the past seven days, at least in the coffee world. Out in the real world, of course, it’s a maelstrom of ridiculousness and confusion, but I assume you’re as sick of hearing about it as I am.

So let’s concentrate on coffee, and what little news there is.

COVID-19 Updates - via Various

Judging by my Instagram feed (a scientific measure if ever there was one) coffee shops that closed down at the beginning of the pandemic are slowly starting to re-open, albeit for pick-up only and with safety measures in place. Lots of takeout windows, lots of pictures of gloved hands holding paper cups.

So what’s been happening in the wider world?

A temporary construction road sign that says USE SOCIAL DISTANCING. Via Unsplash.

A temporary construction road sign that says USE SOCIAL DISTANCING. Via Unsplash.

More coffee festival cancellations and goings-virtual. The Coffee Roasters Guild has ixnayed its annual Retreat, an instructional and networking event that was due to take place this August. The guild is instead ramping up its online presence with virtual events like a conversation with Taiwanese coffee roasters taking place next Friday. The fate of the guild’s European event, the Coffee Roasters Guild Camp, due to take place in September, is still undecided.

Meanwhile, the POUR Coffee Festival, due to take place in Charlotte, NC, in November, is going digital with the No Filter Coffee Festival May 12-16 on Instagram Live. Learn how to brew espresso at home, find out more about sustainability in coffee, and take a tour of a coffee farm, all for free via Instagram (just go to the account of the company hosting the event at its start time and check out their live stream). Easy! See the full lineup here.

There have been many stories of coffee companies donating money during the pandemic, both to industry workers and frontline staff. There’s more of that this week, with Seattle Coffee Gear donating $150,000 to baristas, cafes, roasters and coffee techs across the United States. This is the sort of direct, actionable, and difference-making support the industry needs, rather than the more nebulous, reputation-boosting “we gave some money to some people but won’t tell you how much or to who it went” stories that have come out in recent weeks.

On the producer side, importer Sustainable Harvest is launching a fund for coffee growers with a donation of $156,000, and is asking others in the industry to contribute more. The money will go towards providing “relief kits to coffee-producing communities that may include staple foods, personal protective equipment (PPE) for coffee producers and essential workers, and cleaning and sanitation supplies.”

  • Speaking of coffee producers, have you wondered how people living and working in remote, rural areas of coffee-producing countries have been coping with the coronavirus outbreak? Well, this week a few stories have been published that give us a coffee grower’s view on the pandemic. The BBC interviewed a farmer in Colombia, who is more worried about demand for his coffee falling off than he is about the coronavirus itself: “We will keep producing coffee but where are we going to sell it? That's the difficult question." Daily Coffee News, meanwhile, focused on the harvest in that same country: “Public health officials, concerned by the potential of laborers bringing the coronavirus with them into the countryside, have mandated strict distancing measures in the fields, which will significantly reduce picking capacity.”
  • Finally, just a mountain of stories from all across the UK of extended queues, multi-hour wait times, and general chaos as Costa Coffee re-opened some of its drive-through cafes. “Drivers queue at Costa Coffee as Brits crack under coronavirus lockdown strain with traffic and shopping up” bellows a headline in The Sun, which I’m not linking to for obvious reasons. Seriously, what is wrong with people? Stay at home! It’s not like those poor baristas are getting hazard pay or anything (at least, not that I could find, and it’s usually the kind of news corporations like Coca-Cola, which owns Costa, like to trumpet). Is your subpar coffee really so important?

The week in corporate greenwashing

Nothing this week, which I suppose is good?

Is coffee good for you?

Nothing this week, which is less good.

A person sits on the floor reading a book. via Unsplash

A person sits on the floor reading a book. via Unsplash

What to read

Are Freelance Baristas The Future Of Coffee?—Part One by Mark Van Streefkerk

Why Is Green Coffee Illegally Smuggled Across Borders? by Janice Chinna Kanniah

Until next week, drink good coffee. Stay home. Wash your hands. Stop driving to Costa, for the love of crumbcakes.

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