Empowering Families Through Coffee, Today and Always

A message from the International Women’s Coffee Alliance and the National Coffee Association

During this time of challenge and significant hardship, sheltering in place has brought us closer to our families and loved ones. Coffee continues to provide comfort, health and perhaps the one routine that continues uninterrupted.  And so it is this week, the week we mark the International Day of Families, that the National Coffee Association (NCA) and IWCA share a message to connect and empower.

THE SHARED CHALLENGE

Every part of the coffee community is feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, from furloughed baristas to frontline grocery and delivery workers to the farming communities where coffee is grown. Across the industry, we are all working to adapt to rapidly changing government responses, community health concerns, and many other significant challenges.

Coffee farming supports the livelihoods of an estimated 125 million people around the world and 1.7 million American workers. Behind every one of those people is a family and community. Well before the pandemic, coffee farmers were facing serious challenges ranging from building resilience in the face of a changing climate to struggling to achieve the profitability necessary for sustainable livelihoods.

The pandemic also exacerbates economic challenges and inequality. As the UN recently highlighted:

“…The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic…Compounded economic impacts are felt especially by women and girls who are generally earning less, saving less, and holding insecure jobs or living close to poverty.”  

THE OPPORTUNITY AHEAD

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Americans and consumers around the world have prioritized coffee as a daily staple during these uncertain times. Continuing this strong demand is a key to the economic survival of our favorite stores and brands. What is less well known is that strong demand for coffee is also critical to support coffee farming communities, including members of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA), as they also work to weather the pandemic. 

“Coffee holds this world together when all else fails”

— Leslie Nanne, IWCA Guatemala as shared in the IWCA Insights Report

What’s more, drinking coffee provides health benefits. It is associated with reduced risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.  Particularly relevant to current times, a recent review by Dr. Alan Leviton of Harvard Medical School notes that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of depression by up to one-third.

So, as we join the United Nations in marking the International Day of Families, to honor the strength and resilience of all families, from those who work tirelessly to grow the best beans possible to those who count on a daily cup to start their day. Wherever this message finds you, as you pour your next cup, know that you are connected, and empowered, through coffee.

Thank you from the National Coffee Association and the International Women’s Coffee Alliance.

ABOUT THE NCA

The National Coffee Association of U.S.A., Inc. (NCA), established in 1911, is the leading trade organization for the coffee industry in the United States. The NCA is the only trade association that serves all segments of the U.S. coffee industry, including traditional and specialty companies. A majority of NCA membership, which accounts for over 90% of U.S. coffee commerce, comprises small and mid-sized companies and includes growers, roasters, retailers, importer/exporters, wholesaler/suppliers, and allied industry businesses. Please visit ncausa.org to learn more.

ABOUT THE IWCA

The International Women’s Coffee Alliance (IWCA) is a global network of organizations united by the mission to empower women in the international coffee community to achieve meaningful and sustainable lives; and to encourage and recognize the participation of women in all aspects of the coffee industry.We represent more than 25 countries, the majority of which are coffee growing. Together, we achieve empowerment through leadership development, partnership, and amplified market visibility. www.womenincoffee.org.

Drink Coffee, Be Happy: Coffee drinkers are less likely to be depressed

New research out of Harvard Medical School shows coffee drinkers are less likely to be depressed than non-drinkers.


“Don’t talk to me till I’ve had my morning coffee.”

We’ve all heard that cliché before – but a new review conducted by Dr. Alan Leviton, Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, of existing, independent research, suggests that coffee doesn’t just give you a much-needed jolt in the morning — it may actually help you stave off clinical depression.

In the times we find ourselves living in, it’s no surprise that reports of anxiety and depression are on the rise. Between the constant barrage of negative news headlines and very real concerns over the health and well-being of our loved ones, the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t exactly lend itself to good cheer and contentment. National Mental Health Month couldn’t have come soon enough. 

But America’s favorite beverage could help with that. The results of Dr. Leviton’s independent research shows that coffee drinkers are less likely to be depressed than non-drinkers – and that the more coffee you drink, the less likely you are to be depressed, with the benefits peaking right around 13 oz. each day. That’s slightly more than your go-to Tall coffee from Starbucks.

Let thy morning coffee be thy medicine.  

The results don’t just lend credence to the “don’t talk to me till I’ve had my morning coffee” quip — they also carry profound implications for how we understand coffee’s role in our mental health.

According to Dr. Leviton, there are several factors that could be contributing to coffee’s mood-boosting effects. For example, coffee is known to be rich in antioxidants. Depressed people tend to have higher levels of stress-related oxidants in the body and are more likely than others to have diets low in antioxidants – attributable, at least in part, to lower coffee consumption. The antioxidants found in coffee may very well help offset that deficiency.

Coffee also has anti-inflammatory properties, some of which have been directly linked to improved mood. Depression and suicidal ideation are both correlated with higher levels of inflammation, research shows, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that some of the anti-depression effects of coffee are due to its anti-inflammation effects.

And then there’s caffeine. One might assume it’s the stimulation caffeine provides that brightens one’s mood, but a compound in the blood called adenosine is a more likely explanation. The more caffeine one consumes, the higher the concentration of adenosine in the blood. Depressed people tend to have lower concentrations of adenosine than non-depressed people – and one study found that the more severe the depression, the lower the concentration of adenosine. As if we needed another reason to skip the decaf (kidding, of course…).

Dr. Leviton says some of coffee’s mood-boosting effects are present right there in the mug, but other positive effects of coffee are only unlocked as coffee interacts with our bodies[W4] . You may have heard of probiotics before – they’re those little pearls you can buy at the pharmacy that promote a healthy gut microbiome. But there’s also prebiotics and postbiotics, which, like probiotics, provide health benefits once properly processed. The prebiotics found in brewed coffee, for example, are readily metabolized by organisms in the gut. This process transforms them into short chain fatty acids or other metabolites, including brain-penetrating neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and dopamine – the four major regulators of our mood.

Dr. Leviton’s study goes into much greater detail, and is a worthwhile read for the curious. His findings are welcome news for anyone seeking a little comfort in these uncertain, turbulent times — so burr up those beans, fluff those filters, and put a fresh pot on – trust the research, it’ll make you feel better.

Read Dr. Leviton’s research here.

Help Set the Global Coffee Research Agenda

Take the survey ⇀

Agricultural research and development (R&D) are critical for securing the future of coffee. World Coffee Research has created a global survey on agricultural research priorities, designed with input from coffee industry organizations that are also helping distribute the survey to their members to ensure as much participation as possible. Your participation is critical for helping shape global coffee agriculture R&D priorities, ensuring that the global research agenda supports the needs of the industry, drives increased sustainability and prosperity, and makes coffee better. 

The survey questions focus on agricultural issues in coffee, the supply of coffee, the qualities of green/roasted coffee, and how they impact business. The survey takes between 5 and 10 minutes to complete.

The survey is completely anonymous—no information is collected that could be used to identify you personally or the organization you work for.  Results will be used to inform the development of a five-year R&D strategy for WCR; anonymous aggregated survey results may be incorporated into the public strategy document. Anonymous data may also be shared with industry associations involved in the survey design.

Take the survey ⇀

What’s Next for Coffee Prices in 2020?

By Bill (William) Murray, President & CEO, National Coffee Association

After hitting historic lows in mid-2019, coffee prices began to rebound in November of 2019, an upward slope that continued through the end of December 2019.  Dramatic world events in early January 2020 have already caused spikes in commodity markets – including in the price of oil – that could drive coffee prices up further. 

And so the question on everyone’s mind is whether this upward price trend will continue. 

We can’t predict future coffee prices – but here’s what we do know:

Last year’s historically low coffee prices put unprecedented pressure on some of the 25 million farmers who grow coffee.  This, in turn, led to an unprecedented industry-wide conversation about the impact of low coffee prices on farmers.   

Initially these conversations were simplistic, in today’s click-bait style – broad, black-and-white portrayals of a supply chain populated with villains and innocents, with equally simplistic solutions that could easily cure all ills.

But as the conversation continued, it became apparent that the truth is more complex – just as coffee itself is a complex beverage. 

The reality is that many of the challenges facing coffee farmers are not unique to coffee. Price volatility, poor infrastructure at home, a lack of information, and other factors are the same issues facing small-scale famers in all agricultural sectors.

And while there are common elements bedeviling all small-scale farmers, there is no simple, appealing, one-size-fits all “solution” for helping coffee farmers improve their lot.

This is why it is crucial – especially if coffee prices continue to rise – that we continue to work together as an industry to support farmers.  If you want to be part of the solution, here are four things you can do now:

Understand the Facts.  Current low prices are due to an oversupply of coffee, with other factors, such as the natural, cyclical nature of the market, and foreign currency fluctuations, further challenging farmers.   Devising solutions starts with accurately identifying the challenges.

It Takes a Village.  Know that solutions involve many hands – from international organizations such as the United Nations, to the governments of coffee-growing countries, NGOs, corporations, and even coffee drinkers who send a signal about their values and what they are willing to pay for every time they buy a cup of coffee.  A local – or national – dimension to helping farmers is especially important, as communities must shape programs designed to meet their needs.

A great place to start for a better understanding of the challenges and solutions is the International Coffee Organization’s 2019 “Coffee Development Report.” This report’s 10 page “Overview” provides a rich, deeply researched perspective on today’s market with a focus on development.

What else?

Take Action.  Join us.  Work on your own, through your company, and with others to do what you can now and make a commitment that will persist regardless of price levels.  Hundreds of companies and organizations are supporting program work and buying practices that support farmers.  NGO programs, such as Conservation International’s Sustainable Coffee Challenge, are convening companies to collaborate and directly help farmers — as is the Global Coffee Platform.  More immediately, there are charities that are working on a day-to-day basis to help farming communities in need, like the Coffee Trust.

And finally…

Drink More Coffee.  Market prices were driven down by an oversupply of coffee, and drinking more coffee – to help lap up the surplus – not only helps farmers, but can bring health benefits.

In the meantime, the NCA will continue our work, together with others — for change will not come quickly or easily.  We’ve been supporting, sponsoring, and participating in the ICO’s work;  We’ve partnered with the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, including creating resources to help improve labor practices at origin; and we’ve identified charities through our Showcase and Award Program that we believe are worthy of your support.

Where are coffee prices going in 2020? 

Up or down, one thing is for certain: there won’t be any coffee without farmers to whom we are all connected.

NCA Member Spotlight: Driftaway Coffee

Company: Driftaway Coffee
Location: Brooklyn, NY
NCA Member Since: 2019
Website: driftaway.coffee
Facebook: facebook.com/driftawaycoffee
Twitter: twitter.com/driftawaycoffee
Instagram: instagram.com/driftawaycoffee

What does Driftaway Coffee do?

We are a direct-to-consumer coffee roaster, offering personalized subscriptions in an environmentally and socially conscious manner.

What drives your passion for this industry?

We started this company out of an urge to create. Create something we were passionate about. Something we could be proud of. And for our need for and interest in great coffee.

Why did you become a member of the National Coffee Association (NCA)?

I am interested in networking with other members and learning from everyone.

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Is Coffee Good for You? Our Coffee Doctor Weighs In

Yes, coffee is good for you. But did you know you that more of it can be better? Our resident Coffee Doctor, Mark Corey, PhD, recently traveled to Montréal, Canada for the East Coast Coffee Madness festival, where he spoke about how coffee’s not only good for the drinker, but good for the people who grow it, too.  Read on for a window into coffee madness:


East Coast Coffee Madness (ECCM) (Festival du Café de Montréal) was held on October 19-20th, 2019 in Québec, Canada, at the gorgeous Montréal Science Center.  Organized by Jonathan Gabbay and Nathalie Gabbay of RGC Coffee, the event brought together professionals young and old from every corner of the coffee industry – from baristas to roasters to purveyors of the finest self-contained, bicycle-powered espresso carts. (Really.)

Dozens of exhibitors showcased their artisanal craftmanship and expert ability to source, roast, and prepare coffee to perfection.  But I wasn’t just in Montréal to sample some of the finest single-origin coffees in the world (though that was a nice perk – Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, anyone? I had a mission: to take the stage and help spread the word about the surprising — and under-reported — health benefits of coffee.

Raising the Floor                                                  

The theme of the keynote presentations was “Raising the Floor” of coffee prices. A diverse roster of experts offered compelling insights into how we can address this complex issue for which there is no magic bullet. Phyllis Johnson of BD Imports, former Board Member of the NCA, spoke about the need to elevate the voices of women and minorities in coffee. By having their voices heard and increasing awareness of their contributions to the value chain, she said, we can help build stronger coffee-growing communities – in a sense, ‘raising the floor’ at the ground level.  

As we all remember from Econ 101, supply and demand dictates that when there is an oversupply of a something, market prices tend to fall. This is the situation we find ourselves in with coffee. Before coffee prices reached their current low, farmers were already struggling to stay above the farmgate value, or break-even cost of production — so asking them to limit production at the expense of their own livelihoods is not a viable solution. Instead, we should be working to increase consumption – and one way to do this is to spread awareness of the health benefits of coffee.  This was the focus of my address.

Coffee is Good For You — and More is Better

As a food scientist, I’ve spent much of my career evaluating the scientific consensus and the latest research to make sure coffee is safely produced and healthy to consume. The data is clear on coffee: It’s healthy, and the greatest benefits may be derived by drinking 2-4 cups per day (1).  The problem is, most consumers don’t know that coffee is good for you — let alone that more is better. In fact, the 2018 National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) Breakout Report on Coffee and Health reported that 69% of consumers were unaware of the potential health benefits of coffee. To capitalize on this massive pool of consumers who could help balance out the coffee oversupply, my presentation highlighted the possible benefits of coffee consumption, such as how coffee drinkers:

  • Live longer than non-coffee drinkers (1),
  • Are LESS likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-coffee drinkers (2),
  • May benefit from liver-protective effects (3),
  • May experience protection from depression (4),
  • May derive other potential health benefits (5).

It was frankly a lot of information for anyone to absorb in a short period of time, but I’m hopeful that by interpreting the data and presenting it in an informal, conversational way, coffee pros are better equipped to share with their customers that they need not feel guilty about that extra cup of joe.

Several thousand years ago, Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”  I think we can all drink to that!   

Cheers,

Mark Corey, PhD, Director of Scientific Affairs at the NCA. 

References:

East Coast Coffee Madness – https://www.eccoffeemadness.com/

Supply and demand – https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_69.htm

Farmgate price –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farm_gate_value

69% – National Coffee Drinking Trends Breakout Report: Coffee and health. 2018.  http://www.ncausa.org/Industry-Resources/Market-Research/Consumer-Insight-Reports

(1) Kim Y, Je Y, Giovannucci E.  Coffee consumption and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a meta-analysis by potential modifiers Eur J Epidemiol. 2019 Aug; 34(8): 731-752.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31055709

(2) Carlström M, Larsson SC. Coffee consumption and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analysis.  Nutr Rev. 2018 Jun 1; 76(6): 395-417.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29590460

NCA Next Generation Council Meets at SCTA Dinner in Switzerland

NCA Next Gen Council at the SCTA Conference and Dinner, Basel, Switzerland, October 10, 2019

2019 marked the 10th year of the annual SCTA Conference and Dinner located in Basel, Switzerland.  For the second year in a row, the NCA Next Gen Council was invited to participate in the event, a proposal which was once again graciously accepted.  In addition to the elegance of the dinner itself, our Council members were able to attend an information session and networking hour dedicated exclusively to Next Gen members. 

The initiative was led by Guillaume Zbinden, who has been at the forefront of the effort of the SCTA to emulate the NCA’s Next Gen platform.  Guillaume’s keynote speech was followed by a thorough review by Michael von Luehrte of the activities of both the SCTA Next Gen Council, but also those of the contingent of Next Gen Members throughout countries of origin. 

And to round out the conference section of the Next Gen session, attendees were able to see ‘into the future’ with remarks by Dean Sanders and a panel led by Susana Robledo. 

The event was a great success and the growth of the Next Gen “movement” was apparent! 

Plant Trees. Save Coffee.

Help Build Stronger Coffee Communities

By Bambi Semroc, Vice President, Sustainable Markets and Strategy for Conservation International and leader of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge


Trees get old. They get sick. They die. And it’s up to us to replant them.

I grew up alongside two beautiful, mature and statuesque maple trees in the back yard. My parents saved those trees when they built our house. Dad said you don’t cut down old trees because it takes too long to grow another one. I watched showers of helicopter seeds fall in the spring. I raked their leaves and jumped in huge piles every fall with my brother. We mulched and planted flowers around them. Those trees are still standing, but my dad is not. I have long-since moved away and so has my brother. My mom now cares for those trees on her own. Last month she called with the sad news that she has to remove one because it is dying. I can’t imagine that tree not being there, and I wonder what tree we will plant to replace it.

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Coffee is good for everyone – and more is better

Coffee Farmer Picking Coffee

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.

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NCA Member Spotlight: Vinh Hiep Co. Ltd. / L’amant International Corp.

Company: Vinh Hiep Co. Ltd. / L’amant International Corp.
Location: Pleiku City, Gia Lai Province, Vietnam
NCA Member Since: January 2019
Websites: vinhhiepgl.com or www.lamantcafe.com/
Facebook: lamantcafe.vn

What does the Vinh Hiep Co. do?

We export green coffee beans and roast coffee.

What drives your passion for this industry?

Our love for coffee beans and coffee flavor

Why did you become a member of the National Coffee Association (NCA)?

We joined because NCA is the leading trade association for the U.S. coffee market. NCA members are comprised of organizations from across the industry. NCA is an advocate for the entire coffee industry, an educator who leads the industry in market intelligence and a conduit for networking with industry peers to address key industry issues.

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