Posts Tagged ‘International Coffee Organisation.’


What can we, as coffee drinkers, do? The answer, of course, is to support brands that provide the best coffee

Created on Saturday, 31 May 2014 18:38 Written by Malcolm Burgess

Malcolm Burgess explores the mighty David and Goliath challenge that the world’s ethical consumers recently took on.
Wake up and smell the coffee. It’s what two billion of us enjoy doing every single day. But the bad news is that this could become a thing of the past.
Whether we enjoy a half-caf soy almond latte or something even more exotic, the world’s future supply of quality coffee is at risk. A combination of extreme weather, rising temperatures and pests as a result of climate change means that prime coffee growing areas are seeing production plummet.
‘Climate change is the biggest threat to the industry, if we don’t prepare ourselves for a big disaster,’ says Mauricio Galindo, head of operations at the intergovernmental International Coffee Organisation.
It’s already led Starbucks to visit the White House to warn that the world’s coffee supply is under threat without a strategy in place.
But while western coffee drinkers may be affected by rising prices and poorer quality, the impact on coffee producers has already been catastrophic. Over 25 million rural households across the globe which depend on coffee growing are at risk.
Nowhere has been worse hit than the two million small coffee farmers in Central America where this winter’s harvest was 50% down on normal, for the second year running.
Trees can be saved by pruning and being treated with chemicals but this costs money and means normal production will be interrupted, together with the problem of toxicity to humans.
Nicaragua is one of the countries in the world most affected by climate change, according to the 2013 Global Climate Change Risk Index. It is also one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. The Nicaraguan government estimates that by 2050, 80% of its current coffee growing areas will have disappeared.
Rosibel and Benjamin Fijardo, with two young children, work in Jinotega, in the country’s central highlands, and falling production has turned them to scavenging.
‘If we don’t pick dropped coffee beans, we don’t eat, and nor do our children,’ says Rosibel. ‘There are lots of people and just not enough work here.’
They have no money for fruit or meat and instead, ironically, drink coffee.
Rising temperatures have also seen the appearance of the berry borer beetle in Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda, causing $500 million of damage a year in Africa. This year’s drought in Brazil led to a doubling of coffee prices, with major concerns that climate change will cause a big decrease from the world’s biggest coffee producer.
It isn’t just the weather that has led to the current crisis. While Fairtrade has made inroads, the majority of producers still only receive a fraction of the price of a cup of coffee and the situation has worsened.
‘Commodities analysts confirm that, in a global market awash with speculators’ cash as a result of the quantitative easing policies of governments trying to end the recession, the price of coffee beans bears little relationship to supplies,’ says food writer Alex Renton.
What can we, as coffee drinkers, do? The answer, of course, is to support brands that provide the best coffee and pay their producer a fair price. And to appreciate that climate change affects us all. Starbucks isn’t knocking on President Obama’s door for nothing.

Since the Middle Ages, and its origins in the luxury coffee houses of the Middle East, this mysterious, complex, stimulating beverage has provoked love and fear. Considered by some to be a cure-all, coffee has always aroused scientific interest. Experts agree that consumption of 4- 5 cups per day is healthy.

Coffee facts:
• Coffee is one of the most consumed drinks after water.
• Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world after oil.
• Over 1400 million cups of coffee are drunk around the world each day.
• The majority of coffee is consumed at breakfast.
• Take your coffee black with no sugar? Then your coffee is practically calorie-free with just 2-5 kcal per cup. (from Nestle)
• The two main coffee species grown commercially are Arabica andRobusta.
• A coffee plant can live for between 60 and 70 years.
• It can take up to four years for a coffee tree to reach maturity and bare fruit
• The English word coffee originates from the Arabic word ‘kaweh’ meaning strength or vigour
High temperatures have led to an epidemic of leaf or coffee rust fungus – a hazard of growing 70% of the world’s total production of Arabica. Grown on hillsides at higher altitudes, there was no problem until recently as the fungus dies at temperatures under 10 degrees C.
Malcolm Burgess

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