Big, troubling news broke this week, as one of the most exhaustive studies ever done on coffee and climate suggested that 39 to 59 percent of Ethiopia’s existing coffeelands could become unsuitable by the end of the century due to climate change. CNN went so far as to frame that news to consumers as “your coffee might turn to crap because of climate change.”
In an opinion piece for Fortune, Cornell University climate expert Mike Hoffman framed the climate and coffee discussion in a different, more political way after President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord:
The U.S. needs leadership, not denial, to meet the grand challenge facing it. This means America must fund research that helps coffee producers and other farmers adapt to the climate changes underway and address new pests and diseases. The country also needs to invest in science that helps predict future temperature and rainfall conditions, so farmers can adopt new cropping practices to ensure yield and quality of coffee beans and other products. And it’s not just coffee America should worry about, after all: Food staples like wheat, corn, and beans will also face increasing production challenges.
Duane wants to get back to bein’ Duane. Oregon Live has reported that Stumptown Coffee Roasters founder and third wave pioneer Duane Sorensen intends to get back to his micro-roasting roots by opening a new, small coffee roastery called Puff Coffee in his beloved Portland, Ore. Aside from the fact that the logo is a metal chamber pipe, one of the more gossipy revelations in the story is that Sorensen had a two-year non-compete clause after the sale of Stumptown to Peet’s coffee owner JAB Holding Company in 2015:
On Tuesday, Sorenson described Puff as an entryway back into the coffee world, which he has missed in part due to a non-compete clause signed during Stumptown’s 2015 sale. According to Sorenson, both Stumptown and Peet’s have given them his blessing on the new project.
“I miss roasting coffee,” Sorenson says. “I want to roast coffee. I miss turning on the coffee roasters and smelling the coffee all day long and working directly with the farms, and I pushed and pushed and went nuts with Stumptown.”
They’re probably going to be totally embarrassed by this now, but did you know that Ann and Nancy Wilson of the band Heart (“Magic Man,” “Crazy on You,” “Barracuda,” etc.) were the stars of a 1893 commercial for, of all things, the National Coffee Association?!?
TeamRock.com unearthed that fun bit of trivia in a recent interview with the Wilsons, who were featured in the commercial as part of the “New Coffee Generation” alongside other notable stars of 1983, including comedian Jane Curtain at the Saturday Night Live anchor desk, author Kurt Vonnegut over a typewriter, actress Cicely Tyson at an awards gala. One remarkable outlier in the cast comes through a couple quick cutaways to aging Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson, although his presence supports the more recent scientific assertion that coffee can boost physical performance.
If you’re the type of person interested in country-by-country coffee sector news, the USDA Global Agricultural Information Network has been providing some good reading in recent weeks with dozens of annual reports coming from many of the world’s leading coffee-producing countries. This week came the USDA’s GAIN report on Tanzania, where despite numerous government efforts since 2011, only modest gains are expected this year due to the high end of the biennial crop cycle:
The Government of Tanzania (GOT) continues to implement its strategic plan (2011-2021) by supporting a coffee production expansion program that involves increasing yields in existing farms and facilitating the private sector to start new farms. In the MY 2017/18, FAS/ Dar es Salaam forecasts an increase in production from 1.05 million bags in MY 2016/2017 to 1.15 million bags due to the biennial bearing cycle.
The Coffee industry in Tanzania suffers from several factors, including a lack of access to irrigation systems, a large number of older coffee trees, and highly volatile coffee prices – which causes dramatic fluctuations in production. It also suffers from poor agricultural practices adopted by many smallholder producers, limited access to credit, lack of adequate farming inputs, and low use of inputs by producers.
For as much as development organizations and other coffee-related NGOs have focused on gender initiatives at the farm level in recent years, little actual research has been done in exploring how farmers feel about the specifics of those social and economic sustainability initiatives. A newly published report called “Toward Improving the Design of Sustainability Standards—A Gendered Analysis of Farmers’ Preferences,” from German and Indian researchers attempts to explore just that — finding some promising results:
Results indicate that farmers have positive attitudes toward sustainability standards in general. While they dislike bans of productivity-enhancing inputs, agricultural training and special female support are appreciated. Many also see requirements that have to be met for certification as a welcome nudge to invest in better farm management and quality upgrading. Female farmers have a higher preference for standards than male farmers. Also within households, significant preference heterogeneity between women and men is found.