Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending November 6th

Two hands cradle a coffee cup with latte art, resting on a folded newspaper. Via Pixabay.

Two hands cradle a coffee cup with latte art, resting on a folded newspaper. Via Pixabay.

Welcome to another week’s end and therefore another Coffee News Roundup.

Except there’s not a lot of news this week—at least in the coffee industry. Obviously there’s a lot of news elsewhere.

So before we all go back to anxiously refreshing our news feeds or social media streams, let’s see what’s been going on in coffee.

ICO Outlines Sector-Wide Participation Amid Ongoing Coffee Price Crisis - via Daily Coffee News

The fact that there’s a constant, ongoing coffee price crisis probably comes as no surprise to anyone who follows the industry (or this blog).

In fact, after a two month rise the C price for coffee—the base futures contract price on the Intercontinental Exchange—fell again in October, to $1.06 per pound.

But wait! The International Coffee Council, which oversees the International Coffee Organization, has “publicly reaffirmed its commitment to supporting a more sustainable and prosperous global coffee sector with participation from some of the world’s largest and most powerful private-sector actors,” according to Daily Coffee News.

The organization released a “joint communiqué” that was worked out after online meetings in October featuring “a recently established public-private task force composed ICO exporting and importing members, along with members of the private sector.”

In the communiqué, the task force pledges to “jointly identify and address the root causes of lack of economic sustainability of coffee farmers which contributes to increasing levels of poverty in producing countries, as well as social and environmental issues that persist in the coffee sector.”

The task force has developed a 2020-2030 Roadmap which they say will “mobilize” cash and in-kind resources to ensure “the sustainable, inclusive and resilient growth of the coffee sector,” as well as help coffee producers achieve “economic resilience” and “social sustainability”.

Members include enormous companies such as Illycaffè, Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE), Lavazza, Mercon, Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, Olam, Starbucks, Sucafina, and—of course—Nestlé, as well as organizations like Fairtrade International and the Specialty Coffee Association.

While it all sounds very corporate-speak-y and vague (no numbers or solid timelines are mentioned) at least the industry is committing to something. The biggest companies and organizations are admitting that they need to do more, which is a start.

Where it goes from here remains to be seen, just because everything is so vague, but it’s one to keep an eye on as things progress (assuming they do).

Read the full story here.

More Headlines

From Colombia, Muchacha Offers All-Women Supply Chain Coffees In The US

Hilda Leguía Gonzales Wins Peru Cup Of Excellence

The Week In Coffee Unionizing

A small story I came across this week, about a march in Milwaukee featuring members of a number of local unionization drives, mentions that the workers at Wonderstate Coffee (previously known as Kickapoo Coffee) are organizing.

Apparently they started their efforts back in October, but I couldn’t find any news stories about it—or really much mention at all. One tweet features screenshots from Instagram announcing the unionization. Interestingly, the announcement notes that Wonderstate are not supporting the efforts, and there is a case filed with the National Labor Relations Board.

(It’s maybe worth pointing out that Wonderstate, as part of its 5% Giving program, supports the National Farmer’s Union.)

I’m going to try to get some more details, and will hopefully have an update next week.

The Week In Corporate Coffeewashing

Illycaffè has partnered with TerraCycle to recycle the company’s coffee pods in Europe. Which is obviously good—TerraCycle does great work dealing with hard-to-recycle products.

But at the same time, recycling has been shown to be less effective than we’re led to believe, and in many cases doesn’t happen at all. I recommend reading this deeply upsetting NPR story about how the plastics industry lied to the public for decades about the viability of recycling.

The point is that instead of finding ways to recycle coffee pods—or developing compostable ones—we might be better off just not using them at all. They’re a brewing method invented for and sold on convenience, but they’re just not necessary.

Is Coffee Good For You?

This week, yes! Foods high in antioxidants—including leafy greens, red wine, and of course coffee—have been linked in new research to reduced inflammation and heart disease risk.

Researchers studied 30 years of dietary data from over 200,000 Americans and found that processed meat and refined carbs unsurprisingly increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, while anti-inflammatory foods do the opposite.

So that’s good. Eat more vegetables and drink more coffee (and wine).

What To Read

The Need For Caffeine Was The Mother Of Invention by Mary Robinette Kowal

A Call For Racial Equity by Robin Roenker

Which ‘Milk’ is Best For The Environment? We Compared Dairy, Nut, Soy, Hemp And Grain Milks by Dora Marinova and Diana Bogueva

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