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.
Leaders, experts, and entrepreneurs from across the coffee industry came together for the 2019 NCA Annual Convention in the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The 3-day event was themed “Coffee at the Crossroads” and sponsored by Community Coffee, which is currently celebrating its centennial anniversary as a family-owned company.
From networking events to specialty coffee education, the jam-packed (and highly caffeinated) conference offered something for everyone.
Here, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorite moments, with more to come in the weeks ahead.
(If you attended #NCA19 and want to share what you’ve learned, share a comment below or tag @nationalcoffeeusa in your photos!)
A New Industry Guide for Renovation & Rehabilitation
Coffee-growing regions around the world are feeling the impact of aging trees and diseases (such as coffee leaf rust, pictured above), on the quality and supply of coffee. Supporting responsible coffee farm renovation and rehabilitation is crucial to the future of coffee, and the longevity of our industry.
The Guidebook is a comprehensive resource for companies, governments, investors, and service providers interested in undertaking Renovation & Rehabilitation (R&R) efforts; it:
Defines the need and makes the case for renovation and rehabilitation
Provides practical & useful tips on how to structure R&R programs
Suggests ways that different stakeholders can engage in R&R
Presents case studies and links to experts and service providers
R&R investments are critical for ensuring the continued supply of coffee and meeting future demand. While governments and actors in coffee value chains have invested USD 1.2 billion in R&R so far, this has only met around 5% of the smallholder farmers in need
According to the Guidebook, if the industry did reach these farmers in need of R&R, benefits would include more coffee, higher incomes for farmers, and reduction in future deforestation.
From a 3D printer that enables doctors to construct human tissue, to a virtual reality headset that transports a policymaker in Washington, DC to a remote village in the Amazon to experience projects helping prevent deforestation. Things we never dreamed of 20 years ago are changing our daily lives. And, innovation is not just defined as “the next hot thing” – it’s critical to ensuring the sustainable growth of an industry.
The coffee sector is continually innovating. Consider the new roasting and brewing techniques that led to cold brew and single serve coffees. Or, consumer engagement through creative retail shops offering everything from hands-on technology to fully compostable cups.
That said, innovation in coffee also includes things the everyday drinker might not know about – from researchers developing new varieties and improved practices, to small-scale farmers adopting those varieties and experimenting with new techniques on their farms.
One of the most important innovations the coffee sector has been leading includes the work being done on sustainability.
It takes about 70 coffee beans to make the perfect cup of coffee.
It takes about 3-4 years to grow the perfect coffee bean.
Behind those beans that fuel your morning are the lives of millions of farmers around the world whose livelihoods depend on growing, caring for, and selling coffee. Behind those beans is a cumulative land area the size of Cuba dedicated to the cultivation of coffee. And behind those beans are the threats of climate change affecting growing conditions, market volatility significantly lowering prices, aging coffee trees declining in productivity, and a generation of farmers seeking economic alternatives for their livelihoods.
These are complex issues that require a wide range of solutions and commitments.
Editor’s note:The 600 billion cups of coffee we consume every year globally start out as berries on trees in the tropics. In the coming years, those trees — and the farmers who harvest and export their beans — will be buffeted by an unpredictable mix of market forces and climate change, threatening the global stability and sustainability of coffee and of the forests and farms that make it possible.
In response, the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, a new initiative launched in part by Conservation International (CI), aims to make coffee the world’s first completely sustainable agricultural commodity. The initiative, still in its formative stages, will begin to take shape at the upcoming World Coffee Conference in Ethiopia.
With major organizations adding momentum to the effort, the next step is providing direction, as Bambi Semroc, a CI senior strategic adviser, explains in the following interview. With forecasts of growing demand and a changing climate, she says, the time to protect this crucial crop is now.
Question: What is significant about how coffee is grown?
Answer: Over centuries, coffee has become a staple in nearly every corner of the world. People drink about 600 billion cups of coffee every year. It’s also a $22 billion global industry that provides essential income for millions of people across the sector, including over 25 million smallholder farmers who also serve as important stewards for the world’s tropical forests. Continue reading →