To this point, issues like climate change, lack of genetic diversity in coffee plants and the economic challenges facing coffee farmers have not exactly been popular marketing angles among coffee roasting companies.
Yet the progressive and quality-focused 15-year-old Australian roasting and retail company Single O is highlighting these very threats in a creative new campaign called “No Death to Coffee.”
The campaign centers around Single O’s release of a single-origin and blends containing the Starmaya cultivar, an F1 hybrid coffee plant that has been found to produce good quality in the cup while also offering high yields and disease resistance. The campaign pitches the coffee as “climate resilient” and “future-friendly.”
The project came about after Single O Director of Coffee Wendy De Jong reached out to renowned specialty coffee producer and industry consultant Aida Batlle in search of three new rust-resistant hybrid varieties that Batlle was working with in Mexico: Marsellesa, Centroamericano and Starmaya.
“I just wanted them for an educational cupping for our staff and clients,” De Jong told DCN, “and when I found out there were production volumes to buy, I just bought them up, and I imported them into Australia.”
De Jong was familiar with the hybrids through her longtime associations with the nonprofit World Coffee Research, which has been leading the coffee industry’s charge in developing genetics-based solutions to Arabica cultivar creation and variety selection in response to the short- and long-term threats posed to the coffee sector through climate change and other environmental factors.
“Demand for coffee is expected to double by the year 2050, and if nothing is done, more than half of the world’s suitable coffee land will be pushed into unsuitability due to climate change,” WCR’s Greg Meenahan said in an announcement of the Single O No Death to Coffee line. “Without research and development, the coffee sector will need up to 180 million more bags of coffee in 2050 than we are likely to have.”
As part of the campaign, Single O is also promoting its participation in WCR’s Checkoff Program, in which roasters and importers can donate as little as pennies per pound of coffee purchased to support WCR’s ongoing research. The company is urging its coffee-buying peers throughout Australia to do the same.
Said De Jong, “We recognize that the future of coffee is in all of our hands, and are calling on Australian roasters and importers to do their part to fund the critical research and development needed for coffee and farmers alike.”
Single O’s No Death line has launched with a single-origin Starmaya from the Guadalupe Zajú farms in Mexico.
“The cup quality is very good. It has an orangey lemony acidity and lots of sweet notes, and some mild tropical fruits,” De Jong said. “It’s just a really nice balanced coffee, especially as espresso. It sample-roasted true to a mid-elevation coffee.”
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.