Coffee News Roundup: Week Ending September 25th

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.

Welcome to another week’s end, and another Coffee News Roundup. These things are getting longer and longer, even when the news is thin on the ground. I probably need an editor.

. . .

Oh well, let’s dive in shall we?

ICO Seeks Support For Coffee’s Next Generation On International Coffee Day - via Daily Coffee News

International Coffee Day is coming up on Tuesday, September 29th. Or possibly October 1st. It’s hard to know.

Daily Coffee News reports that September 29th is the day when the International Coffee Organization (ICO) will launch “a new initiative designed to nourish the next generation of coffee producers.” The average age of coffee producers around the world is climbing steadily, you see, with fewer young people interested in taking over their family’s farms (with the extremely low price of coffee and the climate disaster that is already upon us, can you blame them?).

The ICO will look to “[address] this trend through a marketing campaign and related program called Coffee’s Next Generation,” according to Daily Coffee News.

However, on the website set up to market this campaign, which is very light on actual information, the ICO says that International Coffee Day is October 1st. Daily Coffee News says September 29th. Wikipedia agrees, but also says that October 1st is National Coffee Day in various countries. It’s all a bit confusing.

Getting back to the matter at hand, Daily Coffee News reports that, “Though the specifics of the program are expected to be rolled out next week, the ICO said the program will involve financial support and training for selected young entrepreneurs in the coffee sector to develop and scale their coffee ventures.”

It is worth noting here that Guatemala announced its exit from the ICO back in July, saying that “The ICO... has not helped to adequately address the international pricing crisis faced by producer countries.” So there’s that.

Read the full story here.

Brewing Tension: Coffee Producers Call For Help As Virus Saps Demand - via The Jakarta Post

Indonesia is the world’s fourth-largest exporter of coffee, and the global demand slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the country hard. This has led to calls from producers and their representatives for more external aid to help them through this difficult time.

Two hands holding up freshly picked coffee beans

Two hands holding up freshly picked coffee beans

“Farmers are already struggling. They want to sell but the offered price is low,” Ketiara Cooperatives representative Rahmah said during a recent webinar. “Exporters are also experiencing difficulty. They want to export, but there are no buyers.”

Financing has been made available to producers and cooperatives by State-owned banks and government schemes, as well as more small-scale initiatives. One such program has been started by a social enterprise that hopes to help producers in the Dogiyai region of Papua sell some of their backstock through an ecommerce platform.

Meanwhile in Aceh, where 70% of the harvest has still to take place, acting governor Nova Iriansyah has pledged support for a financing scheme that will help absorb some of the excess coffee: “There needs to be support for cooperatives that export coffee in the form of of cheap financing to increase their purchasing power during the harvest season.”

Read the full story here.

Coffee Mate Will Release A Line Of Coffee-Flavored Coffee Creamers Next Year - via Delish

The coffee creamer singularity is here.

Coffee Mate (owned by, of course, Nestlé) has grown tired of your standard flavors like mocha and vanilla, lost interest in odd-but-acceptable iterations such as creme brulee or butterscotch latte, and doesn’t even think flavors like Funfetti and Snickers are enough anymore. Somehow, we’ve gone far enough out into the creamer universe that we’ve ended up back at, simply, coffee flavor.

Interestingly*, Delish pitches these existentially dubious creamers as a way to improve the taste of the crappy coffee you’re clearly going to add them to, saying that “this creamer cuts any bitterness of your black coffee and makes it taste like a smooth, high-end drink.”

Or you could, I don’t know, drink better coffee.

But hey, why do that when you could buy cheap bad coffee and cheap synthetic creamer and drink a facsimile of a good cup of coffee. Because capitalism, I guess?

Read the full “story” here.

*up for debate

Coffee cherries ripening on the branch

Coffee cherries ripening on the branch

More Headlines

Compass Coffee Offering Pay to Staff Volunteering at Polling Places

World Coffee Research & Camber Team Up For International Coffee Day

Candice Madison Has Announced Write-In Candidacy For The SCA Board

Vietnam Now Japan's Top Coffee Supplier, Fueled By COVID

The Week In Coffee Unionizing

Two stories about coffee unions this week, which means it’s the perfect time to launch a new subsection (do we have enough of these yet?).

First, staff at Milwaukee specialty chain Colectivo Coffee are looking to organize and this week gained the backing of local elected officials, although they do not have the backing of the company itself (quelle surprise).

A majority of the Milwaukee Common Council voiced their support for the unionization effort, which is being run in conjunction with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Colectivo employee Hillary Laskonis told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that their goals in unionizing is to enable a real partnership between staff and management: “As low wage, essential workers, we are tasked with reopening this economy at great risk to our health without compensation relative to that risk.”

The company, meanwhile, voiced its displeasure with the choice of the partnering with the IBEW (without actually mentioning why), and also expressed surprise not to have heard from the council before they publicly voiced support.

On a more positive note, Rhode Island’s first unionized coffee shop is seeking assistance from the community to help it become worker-owned. The staff of White Electric Coffee recently received voluntary recognition of their union (see how easy it is, coffee company owners?), and now are raising funds to purchase the company and turn it into a workers’ cooperative.

The Week In Corporate Coffeewashing

Keurig, purveyor of coffee pod thingies and subsidiary of Keurig Dr Pepper (itself owned by JAB) is launching a limited edition pack of coffee pod thingies in apparent collaboration with “local” coffee roasters.

Daily Coffee News reports that sales of this product will provide “Some form of support to numerous specialty coffee roasting companies that have in some way collaborated on the product, according to Keurig. The specifics of the collaboration or support have not been spelled out.”

Well, quite.

The Keurig Love Blend (?) comes in a brown cardboard box that positively bellows “we want this to look sustainable and grassroots-y!” and, while it might help the roasters involved, is basically just a cheap way for Keurig to pretend like it supports independent companies.

Relatedly, Keurig Dr Pepper’s revenue has actually increased during the pandemic, while many, many independent coffee companies have closed for good.

Is Coffee Good For You?

Nothing groundbreaking this week, although you might be interested in this article that discusses phytonutrients, the components in coffee (and other foods) that are believed to have positive health benefits.

What I’m Drinking This Week

This week I received a care package from one of my favorite coffee companies, Steampunk Coffee Roasters in North Berwick, Scotland. Their cafe is one of the most inviting and comfortable spaces I’ve visited, the coffee they roast is top-notch, and they’re really doing their best to be a sustainable company.

I interviewed the owner, Catherine Franks, a couple of years ago, and the second part of the interview discussed her company’s environmental goals (and they’ve made bigger strides since then—perhaps it’s time for a follow-up).

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

Power To The People—Community Fridges And Cafés Join Forces To Fight Food Insecurity by Emily Meneses

Higher Ground: The Expert Guide To Making The Perfect Cup Of Coffee At Home by Stuart Heritage

Until next week, drink good coffee, wear your mask, and support your local coffee union.

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