With the UN General Assembly kicking off this week in New York and the International Coffee Organization convening in London next week, we’re heading into a busy time for the global coffee community. With all the travel hours ahead of us, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on the hard questions and big opportunities that will shape coffee’s future.
Numerous studies show coffee consumption reduces risk of everything from dementia to heart disease to depression to certain types of cancer. The science is clear – coffee is good for the people who drink it. This past summer even California joined the side of scientific consensus to recognize coffee’s health benefits.
It’s not just that some coffee is good. More coffee is better. In fact, research from the National Institute of Health shows that drinking six or seven cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of death from any cause by up to 16 percent. The average American coffee drinker only drinks three cups per day currently, meaning many of us are missing out on coffee’s full potential.
Even better – an extra cup of joe (or five) isn’t just good for the people who drink coffee, it’s good for the people who grow it.
The world currently grows a billion pounds more coffee than we drink. A study commissioned by the World Coffee Producers Forum confirmed that coffee prices are stable based on current supply, particularly driven by increased efficiency in leading coffee-growing countries.
There are only two ways to deal with a surplus: reduce supply or increase demand. Supply will respond only very slowly, since coffee trees typically take three years to produce coffee cherries – the part of the tree that eventually becomes your morning coffee. Today’s supply was shaped by decisions farmers made years ago, and any adjustments today will take years to come to fruition.
So, what can we do now? Help supercharge demand. If every coffee drinker in the United States drank just one extra cup per day, we would more than drink up the current global surplus in one year
Right now, the United States doesn’t even make the top 20 for coffee consuming countries, and 37 percent of Americans don’t drink coffee daily. Clearly, there is plenty of room for growth.
So next week we’ll be joining coffee leaders from around the world, committing to find new ways to help farmers – even as coffee companies all across America have joined together in the Sustainable Coffee Challenge with their own initiatives.
In the meantime, as simple as it may seem, the best thing we can all do, right now, is drink that extra cup – for farmers, and for your health.