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.
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
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
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.
The coffee industry depends on the work of millions of workers who arrive to coffee farms all over the world during the harvest to pick coffee. Labor represents the largest portion of cost of production for coffee farming all over the world.
Although they represent millions and are key to the production of coffee, as an industry, we do not understand their situation, challenges, and opportunities enough.
Inside the community-driven mission of The Coffee Trust, NCA 2019 Origin Charity of the Year
The National Coffee Association recognized The Coffee Trust as the recipient of the 2019 NCA Origin Charity of the Year Award, sponsored by Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee, during the NCA 2019 Annual Convention in Atlanta.
Two Award finalists – meriting special mention – were Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc. and Strategies for International Development.
Here, Bill Fishbein, The Coffee Trust Founder and Executive Director, explains from the field what makes this organization so special – and how they are happily working themselves our of jobs in communities at origin.
The coffee sector looks up to the wine sector for several reasons – including the wine sector’s long and prestigious history, the sensory descriptions, the sophisticated branding with use of terms like terroir, and the (sometimes) high prices.
While the coffee sector can no doubt learn a lot from wine, there are also areas where the wine sector has reason to admire coffee – and sustainability standards is one of them.
Sustainability standards are in several ways more complex for coffee than for wine, especially in terms of developing the standards, training, compliance, and monitoring.
This is certainly not to say that it is easy for the wine community, but here are four of the reasons.
Hosted by the ICO, “International Coffee Day is a global celebration of coffee’s long journey from the farm to your local shop — an opportunity to honor the women and men who grow and harvest the coffee we love.”
The seventy-seven member states of the ICO selected “Women in Coffee” as the theme for this year’s International Coffee Day.
Child labor is a big problem in some of the poorer areas of Uganda, which includes coffee producing communities. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution.
Any resolution demands a dedicated, sustained effort. It must get to the root cause of the problem and improve the economic viability of households so that parents can afford to let their children attend school.
Some coffee companies are choosing step up and take action to empower positive change at origin.
When a Los Angeles judge earlier this month finalized a ruling that coffee sold in California must carry cancer warning labels, many California residents may not have paid much attention to yet another labeling requirement.
Ever since voters passed Proposition 65 more than 30 years ago, after all, Californians have watched the steady proliferation of vague statements about chemicals, cancer, and birth defects. They appear almost everywhere, from the windows of hardware stores to signs at Disneyland. They’re so abundant that Amazon even sells them as stickers in rolls of 500.
Many people have begun to ignore these labels because they’re so common and because the information they convey is almost useless.
So why am I concerned if they now also show up on coffee?