Tag Archive for: Ethiopia

by Gregory Lupton

New World Coffee

Categories: 2015, SeptemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Not unlike the wine grow­ing indus­try of the 1960’s & 1970’s the cof­fee Industry is fast approach­ing major change.

This change, whether largely or partly influ­enced by cli­mate change (or as I see it cli­mate cycles), causes effects on sta­tic plan­ta­tions of any one selec­tion. Despite the debate of whether this change is caused by global warm­ing, global cool­ing, cli­mate change or cli­mate cycling, or whether this is with or with­out the influ­ence of human inter­ven­tion, the depen­dency on Arabica is increas­ing while sup­ply of sus­tain­able high qual­ity beans are seen by many to be decreasing.


Map 1: Current cof­fee pro­duc­ing regions

Map 1 (June2014) shows areas of cof­fee cul­ti­va­tion by type, robusta ®, robusta & Arabica (m), Arabica (a). Although some loca­tions are absent, the gen­eral over­lay of sig­nif­i­cant cof­fee grow­ing areas char­ac­ter­izes both the degree of lat­i­tude per­ceived suited to cur­rent cof­fee pro­duc­tion & high­lights the poten­tial indus­try vul­ner­a­bil­ity to change.

Otto Simonett illus­trates (Map 2) the poten­tial impact of global warm­ing in one loca­tion on a vari­ety least affected by eco­log­i­cal & mete­o­ro­log­i­cal conditions.


Map 2

A rise in tem­per­a­ture, shown by this map, will severely reduce total pro­duc­tion, irre­spec­tive of addi­tional adverse fac­tors caused by this change. Changing cli­mate con­di­tions will inevitably have a higher impact in Arabica, which requires spe­cific con­di­tions with less vari­a­tion to pro­duce good qual­ity cher­ries. In September 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) pro­jected a global warm­ing between 2.6 oC – 4.8 oC by the end of the cen­tury. It con­tin­ued to report that in Brazil, a tem­per­a­ture rise of 3.0 oC would reduce suit­able areas for grow­ing by 66 per­cent in Minas Gerais & Sao Paulo & elim­i­nate it in oth­ers. Similarly, in 2012 the International Coffee Organization (ICO) ana­lyzed effects of cli­mate change on wild indige­nous Arabica in Ethiopia, sug­gest­ing that cur­rent pro­duc­tion could dis­ap­pear by 2080. World Coffee Research (A & M University Texas) points out that either ris­ing tem­per­a­tures, fluc­tu­a­tions in tem­per­a­ture, other weather con­di­tions or pests would cause a defi­ciency of suit­able high­land moun­tain­side on which Arabica flourishes.

It has been reported that tem­per­a­tures above 23 oC can effect cof­fee plant metab­o­lism, result­ing in reduced yields, unbal­ance aro­matic volatiles & increased lev­els of borer bee­tle & leaf rust. My find­ings between 2008 – 2014 sup­ports this, though actual tem­per­a­tures were found to be slightly higher at 25oC with rel­a­tive humid­ity (RH) less than 65 percent.

It is clear that a rise in tem­per­a­ture would severely reduce exist­ing grow­ing regions & sig­nif­i­cantly effect cherry quality.

Mauricio Galindo (ICO) stated in 2012 that cli­mate change was the biggest threat to the Industry, adding that if we don’t pre­pare our­selves we are head­ing for a big dis­as­ter. In March 2014 (ICO) fur­ther cau­tions were expressed that cli­mate change would have a neg­a­tive impact on pro­duc­tion in many coun­tries unless urgent research is car­ried out on adap­ta­tion measures.

What if we could pro­duce a more uni­form crop of cher­ries, cher­ries of selected size, known qual­ity, time of har­vest or even increased choice of geo­graphic location?


Figure 1: Effect of Pollination on cherry ripeness.

Consistency of crop (Figure 1) is often a reflec­tion of how each plant is in bal­ance with its micro­cli­mate. This ecos­phere, both above & below ground, which can dif­fer from plant to plant, is cru­cial to under­stand­ing & deliv­er­ing high-quality con­sis­tent production.

To help under­stand the effects of these cycles on cur­rent Arabica plant­i­ngs & ulti­mately cherry qual­ity, I went into the under-story of South East Asia. For the past 9 sea­sons I have com­pared plant habi­tat, plant form, flora, fauna & phys­i­o­log­i­cal aspects of Arabica from Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam & Thailand.

During this time, accom­pa­nied with 14 years (1984−1998) ana­lyz­ing gov­ern­ment cli­mate data, it is a no-brainer to con­clude “we” need to both adapt & evolve with the flu­id­ness of what is hap­pen­ing around us. Often these effects of “change” cause spec­u­la­tion seen as adverse char­ac­ter­is­tics on the things we cur­rently do. Along with most climate-related indus­tries, the cof­fee indus­try drinks these effects but equally swal­lows oppor­tu­ni­ties for inno­va­tion & indus­try development.

To ensure fun­da­men­tals of sus­tain­able cherry qual­ity in cycles of change, we need to con­sider nature’s rhythm & diver­sity. Nature is a wise teacher with a long his­tory of per­se­ver­ance whom we need to realign with, draw aware­ness from, and under­stand what she is already prepar­ing & implementing.

Geographic loca­tions on the fringes of cur­rent nat­ural adap­ta­tion are often the first to notice sub­tle indi­ca­tors as a result of change.

Why con­tinue to drink a reduced ‘qual­ity nec­tar of nature’ (QNON) when nature has pro­vided the APPS to make things easy!

Stimulated with this cup of knowl­edge I trav­elled to the South Island of New Zealand (Aotearoa o Te Waipounamu) to inves­ti­gate Arabica plant func­tion & cherry qual­ity as effected by cool tem­per­ate cli­mate. Trials were located in Hortons Road Tasman, 43 km west of Nelson & 41degrees lat­i­tude south of the equa­tor. Nelson is unique in its inher­ent nature of mar­itime influ­ence, not only expe­ri­enc­ing long sun­shine hours but cool night tem­per­a­tures. This diur­nal fac­tor of tem­per­a­ture is a fun­da­men­tal key in both the fruit­ful­ness (cherry/leaf ratio) but more impor­tantly cherry phys­i­o­log­i­cal ripeness (CPR). Cherry phys­i­o­log­i­cal ripeness (CPR) from obser­va­tion & in my opin­ion cor­re­lates to (QNON) in Arabica. Initial tri­als over 7 sea­sons & a sub­se­quent trial over 5 sea­sons have shown a sin­gle selec­tion of 500 plants of Arabica has tol­er­ated fre­quent tem­per­a­tures of 0 oC with short peri­ods as low as –1.5 oC mea­sured at 1.5 meters above ground level. Furthermore flower num­bers, cherry size, even­ness of ripen­ing & cup qual­ity com­pared favor­ably with geo­graphic loca­tions from tra­di­tional Arabica cof­fee grow­ing regions.

In con­clu­sion, find­ings sug­gest that there are pos­si­ble alter­na­tive Arabica coffee-growing loca­tions out­side those cur­rently planted. Whether these ‘new world’ loca­tions are linked more closely with cur­rent micro­cli­mate, fore­casted using pre­dicted cli­mate mod­els or diver­si­fied with genetic selec­tion, there are oppor­tu­ni­ties for increased plant­i­ngs away from cur­rent grow­ing regions expe­ri­enc­ing cli­mate cycle chal­lenge, envi­ron­men­tal sen­si­tiv­ity or unsus­tain­able pro­duc­tion. Additional advan­tages of plant­i­ngs out­side exist­ing cof­fee grow­ing regions includes the absence of estab­lished pests & disease.

More ‘flu­idly attune’ plant­i­ngs will ensure con­sis­tent high-quality crops with increased eco­log­i­cally adap­tion & bio­log­i­cal sus­tain­abil­ity, ensur­ing the deliv­ery of life’s essence.

By Gregory Lupton, Plant Physiologist

Coffeelands Foundation

Categories: 2015, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description
The Coffeelands Foundation pro­vides fund­ing to non-profit orga­ni­za­tions address­ing the needs of cof­fee pro­duc­ing com­mu­ni­ties around the world. The pop­u­lar­ity of spe­cialty cof­fee has cre­ated a vibrant and prof­itable envi­ron­ment in the retail cof­fee world. Far too often our suc­cess is not also real­ized by the peo­ple grow­ing our cof­fee. Access to edu­ca­tion, ade­quate health care, clean water, eco­nomic diver­sity, and even enough food to feed one’s fam­ily are still com­mon prob­lems in cof­fee grow­ing regions.

Our project, the Penny a Pound pro­gram, cre­ates a sim­ple, con­ve­nient and effec­tive way for cof­fee roast­ers to address these needs.

Through par­tic­i­pat­ing cof­fee bro­kers, the Penny a Pound pro­gram makes it pos­si­ble for cof­fee roast­ers to donate incre­men­tally by adding a penny per pound onto each of their green cof­fee pur­chases.  The dona­tion is auto­mat­i­cally made when the cof­fee invoice is paid.  It’s that sim­ple.  Each pound of cof­fee pur­chased is help­ing the peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties grow­ing our coffee.

Pennies are impor­tant – and pow­er­ful.  Every day the prices paid for green cof­fee fluc­tu­ates – often more than a penny. How would you like to assure that at least one penny of your pur­chase went to work mak­ing a big impact on the lives of the peo­ple pro­duc­ing our cof­fee?  You can, through our sim­ple Penny a Pound pro­gram. Participation is vol­un­tary, you can opt in or out at any time, and there is no time commitment.

Make your wise purchases—and pennies—count and make a last­ing dif­fer­ence to the lives of our producers.

The mis­sion of the Coffeelands Foundation is to build strong cof­fee com­mu­ni­ties.  We believe that the Penny a Pound pro­gram can help us achieve this mis­sion.  The ben­e­fits are numer­ous. Specifically, we sup­port projects that address:
•    Seasonal hunger and food secu­rity
•    Education and Health Care.
•    Economic Stability
•    Women’s empow­er­ment
•    Sanitation and Water projects
•    Migrant/wage worker issues
•    Response to local and regional disasters.

Some of the orga­ni­za­tions and their pro­grams that we sup­port include Grounds for Health; The Coffee Trust; Peublo a Peublo and Food 4 Farmers.  These orga­ni­za­tions demon­strate excep­tional community-building skills and most impor­tantly, develop their pro­grams within the com­mu­ni­ties where they work.  The long-term suc­cess of any pro­gram depends on col­lab­o­ra­tion between the non-profits and the com­mu­nity.   Programs are tai­lored specif­i­cally to the needs of the indi­vid­ual community.

We review new project pro­pos­als semi-annually and spe­cific projects are cho­sen and funded through the Board of Directors of the Coffeelands Foundation. Tracking and mon­i­tor­ing all projects is of the utmost impor­tance to us and we report back to par­tic­i­pat­ing roast­ers on the projects’ progress.

All dona­tions are tax-deductible.  Coffeelands Foundation is rec­og­nized as tax exempt under Section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Readers can help by
Sign up today with the Penny a Pound pro­gram through these par­tic­i­pat­ing importers:
•    Royal Coffee, Oakland
•    InterAmerican Coffee
•    Vournas Coffee Trading
You can begin con­tribut­ing imme­di­ately with your next cof­fee pur­chase.
If you are buy­ing cof­fee through other bro­kers and would like to be part of the Coffeelands Foundation talk to your bro­ker.  Encourage them join us in this effort.  If we can get all the green cof­fee importers work­ing on this project it can have a tremen­dous impact at origin.

Contact us.  Sign up for our newslet­ter.  Donate directly on-line.
This project is sim­ple in con­cept, sim­ple in exe­cu­tion and addresses com­plex issues in our extended cof­fee com­mu­nity.  Join us today.

Project Contact:
Scott Brant


(406) 309‑5119

Project URL:

Guatemala, Additional projects in Nicargua, Mexico, Honduras and Ethiopia

Project Impact:
The Penny a Pound pro­gram has the poten­tial to impact over 8000 cof­fee farm­ers, their fam­i­lies, and their com­mu­ni­ties through work­ing with the orga­ni­za­tions we support.

Healthy Women Play a Pivotal Role in the Future of Coffee

Categories: 2015, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description
Women have always played a crit­i­cal role in the cof­fee­lands. Shouldering nearly 70% of the labor bur­den at ori­gin, they are also instru­men­tal in shap­ing the social and eco­nomic fab­ric of coffee-farming com­mu­ni­ties. And as pro­grams to sup­port gen­der equity take hold, women are primed to play an even more influ­en­tial role in the future of the world’s sup­ply of cof­fee and the sus­tain­abil­ity of the sup­ply chain.

In order for these women to reach their full poten­tial as farm­ers, accoun­tants, man­agers and com­mu­nity and busi­ness lead­ers, they must be healthy.

Grounds for Health is com­mit­ted to help­ing women in the cof­fee­lands max­i­mize their poten­tial by pro­vid­ing life-saving health ser­vices at ori­gin. Specifically, we deliver much-needed screen­ing and treat­ment for cer­vi­cal can­cer, an eas­ily pre­vented dis­ease that kills more women in most devel­op­ing coun­tries than mater­nal causes.

In November 2014, we expanded our geo­graphic reach to Ethiopia. In early 2015, we launched the Roasters Challenge cam­paign, our first fundrais­ing cam­paign backed by the U.S. Government.

With gen­er­ous seed funds from Dean Cycon of Dean’s Beans and Bob Fulmer of Royal Coffee, Inc. and fur­ther sup­port by cof­fee com­pa­nies from across the United States, we were able to raise more than $200K by our dead­line, Mother’s Day 2015. A match­ing con­tri­bu­tion from the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR pro­gram, a public-private part­ner­ship focused on reduc­ing deaths from cer­vi­cal and breast can­cer in Latin America and Africa, trans­lated to a total of $400K to help us expand our impact on Ethiopia’s coffee-growing communities.

Grounds for Health addresses a crit­i­cal gap in women’s health ser­vices in Ethiopia, where there are approx­i­mately 20 mil­lion women at risk for devel­op­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer and 5,000 pre­ventable deaths expected in 2015. The pro­gram is the first of its kind in the country’s coffee-growing regions and aims to reach women between the ages of 30–49 with screen­ing and treat­ment services.

In part­ner­ship with the Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon ini­tia­tive, Grounds for Health is expand­ing cer­vi­cal can­cer screen­ing and pre­ven­tive ther­apy ser­vices to 19 dis­tricts in Sidama zone as well as other zones in Western Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). The orga­ni­za­tion works closely with the Sidama Coffee Farmers Coöperative Union (SCFCU) as well as the Sidama Zone Health Department and Regional Health Bureau of the SNNPR. The col­lab­o­ra­tive nature of the work is crit­i­cal to ensur­ing ade­quate train­ing of health providers and com­mu­nity health pro­mot­ers and cre­at­ing aware­ness for the pro­gram in order to max­i­mize the num­ber of women screened and treated.

Through this ini­tia­tive, nearly 1,400 women have ben­e­fited from Grounds for Health’s ser­vices in Ethiopia. The pro­gram is well on its way to screen thou­sands more this year and expand to mul­ti­ple dis­trict health cen­ters in the near future.

Readers can help by
There are sev­eral ways to con­tribute to Grounds for Health’s pro­grams in Latin America and Africa.
1. Individuals.
Individuals can donate to Grounds for Health: For those inter­ested in sup­port­ing a spe­cific project, check the box next to “I would like to des­ig­nate this dona­tion to a spe­cific fund” and select the project of choice.

2. Corporate Supporters and/or employ­ees.
We offer many ways to sup­port our pro­grams through work­place giv­ing, cause-marketing and other ini­tia­tives that help com­pa­nies rein­force busi­ness and CSR objec­tives. Please con­tact Pam Kahl, for more information.

Follow Grounds for Health:

Project Contact:
Pam Kahl


(802) 876‑7835

Project URL:

Ethiopia, Sidama Zone, Southern Nation and Nationalities Region (SNNPR)

Project Impact:
Delivering life-saving health ser­vices to women liv­ing in rural coffee-growing regions of Ethiopia.

Through the Lens

Categories: 2015, MayTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

HJ and Dukale walk_highrez-2Ethiopia. It is an old land of ancient peo­ple with courage so calm that it whis­pers rather than shouts. It is a courage that speaks of hope, of strength, of unfail­ing deter­mi­na­tion. It is the land that many of us know as the birth­place of coffee.

As a teenager, what I knew of Ethiopia was what I saw on the tele­vi­sion in the 80’s: the Ethiopia of extreme droughts and a starv­ing peo­ple. The images moved a world into action and brought aid to peo­ple in need. And then we went about our lives and the aid ran out. Eventually, the rains came back, but by then, the tele­vi­sion crews had long since moved on to another equally dev­as­tat­ing dis­as­ter. But the Ethiopian peo­ple worked their land, loved their fam­i­lies and built their dreams.

Ethiopia is the home of Dukale’s Dream.

I recently was invited to pre­view the doc­u­men­tary film titled, “Dukale’s Dream”, fea­tur­ing Hugh Jackman and his wife, Deborra-lee Furness. The doc­u­men­tary tells the tale of how Jackman and his wife, as ambas­sadors of World Vision Australia, travel to Ethiopia to see how a devel­op­men­tal project is impact­ing the peo­ple and help­ing to empower a community.

On their jour­ney they meet Dukale, a 27-year-old cof­fee farmer from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. The nar­ra­tive of Dukale and his fam­ily unfolds with sim­ple elo­quence and is woven into a much larger tale, help­ing us under­stand the chang­ing role of devel­op­ment within coun­tries of need.

Giving money is remark­ably easy to do—we write checks, swipe cards, check the box all the time. But few of us are given the oppor­tu­nity to wit­ness first-hand the impact devel­op­ment has on a com­mu­nity. While watch­ing the film, you lose the idea behind his fame, you only see a man try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence and try­ing to under­stand how to con­tinue to empower from afar.

This is not the way things are meant to be, and it is not the way they have to be.”1

—Hugh Jackman

I spoke with the direc­tor of “Dukale’s Dream”, Josh Rothstein, known for his doc­u­men­tary work in the areas of social change and devel­op­ment. Rothstein is no stranger to a peo­ple in plight. I asked him what he hoped the impact of “Dukale’s Dream” would be?


There are con­cepts in the film that the gen­eral audi­ence is aware of and have some famil­iar­ity with. We have an oppor­tu­nity to dis­till some of those parts and weave them together. I don’t think there has been enough pop-culture expo­sure to artic­u­late the mes­sage to a broader audi­ence; we hope to do that here.

It is not just about “fair trade”, as one could argue there are under­ly­ing issues with fair trade, but it is more about the com­mu­nity devel­op­ment and the com­plex issues fac­ing the cof­fee farm­ers all over the world. As a con­sumer, you have an oppor­tu­nity to artic­u­late the idea of why it matters.

Ultimately, in that way, we have a larger respon­si­bil­ity to speak to our audi­ence, apply this mes­sage to their every­day lives and help them under­stand their role in the value chain as buyers.”

Through the lens of Dukale’s Dream, you begin to under­stand what many non-profit orga­ni­za­tions and com­pa­nies in the cof­fee indus­try already know, our world is so very much con­nected. Our sis­ters, our broth­ers, live in vil­lages, sleep in huts, strug­gle for run­ning water, they need “a hand up—not a hand out.”2

Two pre­vail­ing paths of trans­for­ma­tion emerged within the last decade. The first was the shift from just giv­ing money or aid, to cre­at­ing change through devel­op­ment. The other is the sheer con­nec­tiv­ity that tech­nol­ogy has made pos­si­ble, shrink­ing the size of the globe and expand­ing our marketplace.

We have to get to a point where peo­ple in extreme poverty are at a level beyond get­ting the min­i­mal needs of sur­vival met. Once beyond that, devel­op­ment or empow­er­ment of a com­mu­nity can take hold and be transformative.

Development is the root of change that empow­ers peo­ple to expand their own lives through com­mu­nal sus­tain­abil­ity. Building stronger com­mu­ni­ties through edu­ca­tion, train­ing, men­tor­ing and growth through new oppor­tu­ni­ties. Communities thrive through inno­va­tion and if we give regions the tools nec­es­sary to solve regional issues, sus­tain­able trans­for­ma­tion takes hold and the next gen­er­a­tion ben­e­fits exponentially.

Those of us who have spent much of their lives in “cof­fee” under­stand. But what of those who are just out­side our “world” of cof­fee? Do they under­stand the impact they could have if they chose to drink cof­fee that is fairly traded, with sus­tain­able prac­tices?  The chal­lenge lies in tap­ping into their buy­ing voices. This is the next level of true sus­tain­able development—utilizing the buy­ing power of the con­sum­ing coun­tries and cre­at­ing last­ing change with each cup.

This trans­for­ma­tion must occur all along the sup­ply chain and goes beyond telling the story of the cof­fee we drink in the morn­ing on an artis­ti­cally drawn chalk­board. The power of sus­tain­able change means get­ting the end user fully vested in the accep­tance that they have the power to trans­form lives.

Through the inspir­ing jour­ney in “Dukale’s Dream,” we are shown the power of our choices here at home and how we have the abil­ity to help those who, like us, dream of cre­at­ing some­thing more for our fam­i­lies and those we love.

The world is a very small place in real­ity. People are cul­tur­ally diverse but our needs are the same. We under­stand the quite courage of the Ethiopian peo­ple and we hear their dreams like our own, whis­pered in the dark, tak­ing shape in the night, trans­form­ing with the dawn.

1 Hugh Jackman, Dukale’s Dream, film, 2015

2 Hugh Jackman, Dukale’s Dream, film, 2015

by Kelle Vandenberg

Book Profile

Categories: 2015, AprilTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

CoffeeTalk is proud to pro­vide a series of sneak pre­views of Dr. Shawn Steiman’s new book, The Little Coffee Know-It-All: A mis­cel­lany to grow­ing, roast­ing and brew­ing the world’s best cof­fee, uncom­pro­mis­ing and unapolo­getic.

Dr. Steiman’s forth­com­ing book explores the mul­ti­ple aspects of the cof­fee plant and of cof­fee pro­duc­tion through the lens of a sci­en­tist. And while backed with sci­en­tific data and facts, his easy­go­ing and infor­mal writ­ing style makes it acces­si­ble knowl­edge to all.

Shawn is a cof­fee sci­en­tist, Q-grader, author, and con­sul­tant. He’s a grad­u­ate of Oberlin College as well as the University of Hawai‘i. His cof­fee research has included cof­fee pro­duc­tion, ento­mol­ogy, ecol­ogy, phys­i­ol­ogy, bio­chem­istry, organolep­tic qual­ity, and brew­ing. Aside from being an owner of Daylight Mind Coffee Company, he also owns Coffea Consulting, a coffee-centric con­sult­ing firm. Shawn reg­u­larly presents sem­i­nars, work­shops, and tast­ings for both pub­lic and pri­vate events.

Why this book? (An excerpt)

People are crazy about cof­fee. They read cof­fee blogs, trade mag­a­zines, and books and attend con­fer­ences, trade shows, and cof­fee schools. They buy all kinds of cof­fee brew­ers, grinders, and related para­pher­na­lia. They dis­cuss the nuances of cherry pro­cess­ing, roast­ing, stor­age, and brew­ing at every oppor­tu­nity. They’ll even wait in line for twenty min­utes for a $10 cup of cof­fee! And these are just ordi­nary peo­ple, not cof­fee professionals!

Coffee has become a wor­thy hobby and intense pas­sion for all sorts of peo­ple. People want to learn as much as they can about cof­fee and they want answers to all sorts of ques­tions brew­ing in their heads. What, then, is more appro­pri­ate than pro­vid­ing answers to some of those ques­tions in a fun way that doesn’t feel too much like a high school class­room? While there are many cof­fee books avail­able, this one is dif­fer­ent. It attempts to look at a myr­iad of cof­fee ideas and explore them using sci­en­tific prin­ci­ples, sci­en­tif­i­cally acquired data, and peer-reviewed pub­li­ca­tions. Even though the sci­en­tific method isn’t fool-proof and there are other ways of acquir­ing truth and knowl­edge, sci­ence has gen­er­ally proven to be a good way of explor­ing the world.

Part 1: The Beans (an excerpt) 

Why does a cof­fee plant pro­duce caffeine?

So many of us love cof­fee because of what caf­feine does for us. Without the caf­feine, human­ity may never have con­tin­ued con­sum­ing cof­fee after the first ini­tial tries (what rea­son would we have had for stum­bling on the impor­tance of pro­cess­ing, dry­ing, roast­ing, and brew­ing?). But, what does caf­feine do for the cof­fee plant? After all, it doesn’t man­u­fac­ture the stuff for us and it requires energy to pro­duce it.

Caffeine is found in all parts of cof­fee, from the roots to the seeds and even in the xylem, the upward-elevator organ in plants. A num­ber of hypothe­ses have been posited for what caf­feine can do for the cof­fee plant. It could be an allelo­pathic agent, an anti-herbivory agent, a form of nitro­gen stor­age, and/or a pol­li­na­tor stimulant.

Allelopathy is plant chem­i­cal war­fare against other plants. Some plants pro­duce chem­i­cals that can harm or kill seeds or plants, typ­i­cally of other species. These com­pounds, spread by the decom­po­si­tion of leaf lit­ter or exu­da­tion by roots and seeds, influ­ence the pop­u­la­tion dynam­ics of plants within a com­mu­nity; not all alle­lo­chem­i­cals kill all plants. Many researchers have demon­strated that caf­feine is toxic to a num­ber of dif­fer­ent plants. However, nobody has demon­strated caffeine’s effi­cacy in a nat­ural set­ting. Thus, just because it can kill some other species, there is no guar­an­tee that it would kill com­peti­tor plants in the forests of Ethiopia (where it evolved).

Caffeine is incred­i­bly toxic to some insects and fungi (humans, too, in a high enough con­cen­tra­tion). So, it is often argued that it is a defense mech­a­nism from crit­ters. This hypoth­e­sis is sup­ported by the fact that caf­feine is pro­duced in young, devel­op­ing organs that are more sus­cep­ti­ble to insect attack. This is a log­i­cal hypoth­e­sis but it is incred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to prove.

Since caf­feine has been found mov­ing up through a plant and it con­tains four nitro­gen atoms, it is thought that it may sim­ply be a way to store nitro­gen until needed for a spe­cific pur­pose. What lit­tle research has been done on this hasn’t suc­cess­fully demon­strated this function.

Lastly, caf­feine may be an incen­tiviz­ing treat for pol­li­na­tors, par­tic­u­larly hon­ey­bees. Research has shown that hon­ey­bees’ long-term mem­ory is improved after hav­ing caf­feine. Presumably, this would help the bees remem­ber the flower they were enjoy­ing and be more likely to return to it in the future, thus help­ing the plants to cross-pollinate. While this is promis­ing research, it has yet to be tested out­side the lab­o­ra­tory. In addi­tion, it wouldn’t explain why caf­feine is syn­the­sized in all the organs in the plant.

We will prob­a­bly never know why cof­fee first devel­oped caf­feine. If we’re lucky, we’ll find out why it has con­tin­ued to do so. Of course, from the coffee’s per­spec­tive, caf­feine pro­duc­tion has been a huge suc­cess. After all, because of that mol­e­cule, the human species has spread the seeds of the plant to nearly every place on the planet in which they could thrive!

Dr. Steiman has authored numer­ous arti­cles in sci­en­tific jour­nals, trade mag­a­zines, newslet­ters, and news­pa­pers. He is the author of The Hawai‘i Coffee Book: A Gourmet’s Guide from Kona to Kaua‘i and is a co-editor and author of Coffee: A Comprehensive Guide to the Bean, the Beverage, and the Industry. His forth­com­ing book, pub­lished © 2015 by Quarry Books, will be avail­able in the spring of 2015. Stay tuned to future issues of CoffeeTalk for more excerpts from The Little Coffee Know-It-All.

Roaster/Retailer Profiles

Categories: 2014, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

It all started in 1992 when Paul Odom took a dif­fer­ent direc­tion from his family’s bev­er­age busi­ness and founded Fonté Coffee Roaster just as the cof­fee boom was about to explode in Seattle, Washington. While spe­cialty cof­fee was just becom­ing more pop­u­lar with con­sumers, Odom saw a void in the hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket for a high-end prod­uct, notic­ing a lag in excep­tional qual­ity and ser­vice to chefs, restau­ra­teurs and hoteliers.

At age 22, just out of col­lege, Odom made it his mis­sion to cre­ate the finest cof­fee and espresso blends in the world by set­ting the strictest stan­dards in prod­uct devel­op­ment and deliv­ery. He pro­cured the best roast­ing and pro­cess­ing equip­ment, part­nered with arguably the most tal­ented mas­ter roaster in the indus­try, built a sales team with expe­ri­ence in pre­mium cof­fee and estab­lished a busi­ness to ser­vice this untapped market.

Today, Odom over­sees a rig­or­ous daily roast­ing sched­ule, a sales force on both coasts and a qual­ity con­trol pro­gram that main­tains the high­est stan­dards of ser­vice to its top-tier clien­tele. Odom also launched Fonté’s online busi­ness and down­town café to ser­vice a ris­ing demand for its cof­fee prod­ucts in the con­sumer market.

Odom’s right hand man, Steve Smith, has a dis­tin­guished career in roast­ing cof­fee span­ning over three decades. He is an indus­try vet­eran and con­sid­ered an expert by many in the cof­fee trade. Beginning in 1979, Smith worked for Starbucks and was one of the first roast­ers ever trained under the three orig­i­nal own­ers of the com­pany. He was the first roaster to earn the title of Master Roaster and was respon­si­ble for all aspects of the roast­ing process. In 1992 Smith dis­cov­ered a like-minded enthu­si­ast for small batch, arti­san cof­fee in Fonté Coffee Roaster founder Paul Odom and joined forces as the company’s mas­ter roaster.

Smith’s pro­duc­tion phi­los­o­phy is that of a cof­fee purist – his tech­niques adhere to the strictest stan­dards and work to main­tain the integrity of the cof­fee fla­vor dur­ing the roast­ing process. Smith is respon­si­ble for every aspect of cof­fee production.

He hand-selects each season’s best green cof­fee from all over the globe, and reviews farms’ har­vest­ing prac­tices, from Papua New Guinea to Ethiopia to Guatemala (he notes, his col­lege Spanish degree did come in handy). He feels single-origin cof­fees are lay­ing the foun­da­tion for a more mature appre­ci­a­tion of refined cof­fee fla­vor profiles.

At Fonté, he holds reg­u­lar cup­pings with owner Paul Odom to study fla­vor pro­files from var­i­ous regions and to cre­ate a plan for the devel­op­ment of Fonté’s pro­pri­etary blends. He also over­sees a rig­or­ous pro­duc­tion sched­ule based on a daily roast-to-order sys­tem, ship­ping out cof­fee to clients within 24 hours of roast­ing, always mak­ing sure that Fonté deliv­ers the fresh­est prod­uct pos­si­ble. He also man­ages the tea pro­gram, which includes import­ing a vari­ety of exotic teas, super­vis­ing blend­ing and devel­op­ing new exclu­sive blends.

I had a brief inter­view with mas­ter roaster Steve, who was kind enough to answer some questions:

V. How did you get involved with Fonté?
S. My involve­ment with Fonté began when I met Paul, the founder, at a small short-lived cof­fee com­pany where I ran the cof­fee pro­gram. Paul was inter­ested in buy­ing some of that company’s pro­duc­tion equip­ment to sup­port a set of retail stores he had begun open­ing and he hap­pened into our office at a time when I was cup­ping sev­eral sam­ples. I invited him to join me in the cup­ping, and as we talked I began to appre­ci­ate the scope and depth of Paul’s plans such that I was very pleased when he offered me an oppor­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in what became Fonté Coffee Roaster.

V. Please describe Fonté’s phi­los­o­phy and unique­ness in just a few words, and elab­o­rate on each?
S. Ours is a phi­los­o­phy of excel­lence within con­text. Fonté is look­ing to share a very per­sonal expe­ri­ence of appre­ci­a­tion for vivid and fleet­ing cof­fee fla­vors in vir­tu­ally any con­text in which cof­fee is taken. And this under­scores the unique­ness of Fonté: we are capa­ble of pro­vid­ing an excel­lent cof­fee in any con­text, whether it be an exotic sin­gle ori­gin espresso, a 6 gal­lon urn at a ban­quet or a cold brew martini.

V. You have been in busi­ness for a really long time now (how long exactly?) what has changed over the past sev­eral years (in the indus­try over­all and the men­tal­ity of the con­sumer)?
S. We started in 1992. During the years we’ve been in busi­ness, growth has been the over-arching big deal, and the result has been that there is more of every­thing: more top qual­ity cof­fee, more peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in the busi­ness, more inter­est and venues for spe­cialty cof­fee. There is also more silli­ness, more mis­un­der­stand­ing and dog­ma­tism, and more pre­tenses. It’s a pretty col­or­ful business.

V. Being both a suc­cess­ful roaster and a retailer, how do you man­age not to com­pete with your cus­tomers? I guess mainly the ques­tion con­cerns Seattle, or other cities as well?
S. Our retail pres­ence is so small as to not threaten our whole­sale cus­tomers. I think they appre­ci­ate the fact that we share an inti­mate under­stand­ing of what being a suc­cess­ful retailer entails.

V. What makes you one of the lead­ers in the indus­try as of today?
S. Our deter­mi­na­tion to con­tinue to put cof­fee fla­vor above trendy lifestyle expressions.

Fonté Coffee Company

Seattle, Washington

Maxim Vershinin has been a colum­nist for CoffeeTalk for the last few years high­light­ing var­i­ous roast­ers and retail­ers in the indus­try. He has lived in Peru for the last few years and is now fur­ther­ing his edu­ca­tion at Columbia University seek­ing a B.A. in economics.

How to Reconcile 3rd Wave Coffee and Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Categories: 2013, NovemberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

A Snob, as defined in Free Dictionary:

1. One who tends to patron­ize, rebuff, or ignore peo­ple regarded as social infe­ri­ors and imi­tate, admire, or seek asso­ci­a­tion with peo­ple regarded as social superiors.

2. One who affects an offen­sive air of self-satisfied supe­ri­or­ity in mat­ters of taste or intellect.

A 3rd wave cof­fee shop has made a com­mit­ment to cel­e­brat­ing the unique fla­vors in cof­fee and brings their pas­sion for the prod­uct to their cus­tomers. So a snobby barista in a 3rd Wave cof­fee shop that hand-crafts a sin­gle serve Chemex for you, and then looks down at you for not being as cool or pas­sion­ate as them, can drive a per­son insane. Snoppy busi­ness own­ers will encour­age the cre­ativ­ity of its employ­ees and embold­ens their egos by giv­ing them a bit of train­ing and con­vinc­ing them that they are “socially supe­rior” and should be “admired.”

The cus­tomers, unfa­mil­iar with this new breed of rude baris­tas, enables the behav­ior by pay­ing $5 for a brewed cup and assumes that some­one so full of them­selves MUST know what they are doing. This ends up doing a dis­ser­vice for the entire indus­try. An indus­try built on the idea that peo­ple should come together in a cof­fee­house to openly share ideas and be social with their neigh­bors is being undone by snobs in fedo­ras serv­ing up atti­tude and treat­ing the patron as infe­rior. Who would want to hang out there?

One can be reminded at times of the Seinfeld episode fea­tur­ing the “Soup Nazi.” It’s like a Coffee Snob yelling from behind the counter, “NO COFFEE FOR YOU!” Don’t you dare speak to the barista or ques­tion what they do!

Thank good­ness not all, or even most of the good cof­fee shops do this. But there are enough to tar­nish the indus­try. One of the best expe­ri­ences you can have is to be treated to a hand crafted cof­fee and then be engaged by the barista as to why this cof­fee is spe­cial and who grew it and what to look for in a taste profile.

There has been a dis­cus­sion now among cof­fee folk about whether or not fla­vor­ings should be allowed in 3rd wave shops. Some will say they com­pletely ruin the cof­fee. If the idea is to cel­e­brate cof­fee why would you want a Coconut ½ caf ½ decaf cap­puc­cino with nut­meg on top? Why indeed? Others argue that if you do not offer this, you are a cof­fee snob. The irony here is that the same cap­puc­cino drinker could well be a cof­fee snob as they look down on those that would not serve them what they want when they want it.

So let’s break this down and use a great hol­i­day favorite in our example:

A guy walks into a cof­fee bar and orders a “Double Pumpkin-Spice Latte.” Let’s find the snobs.

1)    The barista says, “We don’t serve that here cause it ruins the cof­fee!” SNOB or NOT SNOB?

2)    The cus­tomer says, “It’s the hol­i­days and I always get these. Why are you guys so stuck up that you won’t serve it to me?” SNOB or NOT SNOB?

3)    The owner over­hears the customer’––s ques­tion and answers, “Look, the farmer put a lot of sweat and effort to get us this cof­fee and we would never alter the fla­vor of his work with a sugar syrup. Would you put sugar in wine to make it sweeter?” SNOB or NOT SNOB?


Everyone above has a valid point. Everyone wants what they want for valid rea­sons. The prob­lem with snob­bery is that they only see what they want and don’t stop to con­sider the other per­son. Here is another way the above could have transpired:

A guy walks into a cof­fee bar and orders a “Double pumpkin-spice Latte.” He is greeted in the fol­low­ing way:

1)    The barista says, “Oh I’m sorry. I love Pumpkin Spice lattes around the hol­i­days as well. Our shop, how­ever, has taken a posi­tion that the cof­fee is so del­i­cate in its fla­vors that if we add fla­vor­ing we will stop cel­e­brat­ing the hard work that got it here. Can I get you a reg­u­lar latte instead?”

2)    The cus­tomer says, “Oh bum­mer. I was really look­ing for­ward to that. I under­stand your posi­tion so I guess I will have to go some­where else to get one.”

3)    The owner real­iz­ing he is los­ing a cus­tomer says, “Hang on a minute! I will make you a deal! Let us make you a latte. Our espresso blend is awe­some and we directly sourced the beans from Ethiopia, Honduras, and Brazil. We think it has a great fla­vor in a latte, and I would love for you to expe­ri­ence that. So please have a latte and take a few sips and see if we did our job okay. If you don’t like it, it is on the house! After that, if you wish, I have a bot­tle of Pumpkin Spice and would be happy to mix it in. We both win; I want you to expe­ri­ence our cre­ation and you want a pump­kin spice latte.”

Welcome to a snob free zone! It would be even a bet­ter solu­tion if the owner had stayed with his com­mit­ment to qual­ity and devel­oped his own sug­ary spicy con­coc­tion made from organic pump­kins and fair trade spices. He would be set­ting him­self apart from every­one else and enhanced the expe­ri­ence of fla­vor­ing in a coffee.

So the debate asks the wrong ques­tion. Instead of, “Should a 3rd wave cof­fee shop serve pump­kin spice lattes?” it should be, “How could a 3rd wave cof­fee shop stretch its pas­sion for cel­e­brat­ing cof­fee find a com­pli­men­tary way to add pump­kin spice with­out com­pro­mis­ing its val­ues for quality?”

Snobs stand on elit­ist prin­ci­ples. Good cof­fee peo­ple and smart busi­ness own­ers will find a way to sat­isfy the needs of their cus­tomers with­out aban­don­ing principles.

Use the cre­ativ­ity of your staff to develop prod­ucts and ser­vices the patrons have been ask­ing for. The baris­tas hear it every day from their cus­tomers and they should be involved in the process of find­ing solutions.

By the way, if you are read­ing this and think­ing, “This Rocky guy is full of crap!”… You are prob­a­bly a snob!

Rocky can be reached at as well as

The View

Categories: 2013, AugustTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

The other day I was at Café Luna, our local café here on the island, and they were work­ing through their rush with one of their steam wands bro­ken on their La Marzocco. The steam valve was stripped.

They were wait­ing for Pat from Visions, one of the great equip­ment and small­wares com­pa­nies here in the Northwest, to come in. Confidence was high and cor­rectly so. Soon they were up and steam­ing away – busi­ness as usual.

I thought of Brian Conroy from EspressoMe that ser­vices our machine at the office. He lives in Vancouver, Washington, yet he and his staff ser­vice the entire Pacific Northwest. Let’s face it, Vashon Island is not the eas­i­est place to get to and it is about three hours from Vancouver. Still, Brian cheer­fully comes bar­rel­ing up I-5 to make sure that our Franke keeps putting out the espresso. He braves ram­pag­ing deer, mas­sive snow in the passes, late night fer­ries, traf­fic acci­dents, and just gen­eral road may­hem to make sure that we don’t go a minute longer with­out the best pos­si­ble cof­fee. If this is pos­si­ble, I believe that Brian is more pas­sion­ate about cof­fee than us.

As far as I can tell, Brian and the hun­dreds of oth­ers who keep our café and roaster equip­ment work­ing at peak effi­ciency must live in their trucks log­ging thou­sands of hours every year.

Marty Curtis, gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the best wiz­ard of roast­ers, trav­els to all parts of the globe either repair­ing and installing roast­ers or instruct­ing Q-Grader cer­ti­fi­ca­tion courses. He rarely is at home. Nine times out of ten, when I call Marty I end up get­ting him at 3am in some hotel in Indonesia or Ethiopia. Still, “No Problem, what can I do for you, man?”

As an indus­try, we don’t think much about this part of our world. After all, you usu­ally do not buy a new piece of expen­sive equip­ment with the first thought in your head – “Who is going to fix this thing?” (Although you should) The ser­vice side of our busi­ness is typ­i­cally invis­i­ble and unrecognized.

Still, these men and women go about their busi­ness cheer­fully and pos­i­tively, always look­ing to reas­sure and com­fort their cus­tomers. Often mis­un­der­stood and blamed for prob­lems, these folks are more psych coun­selors than tradesmen.

It reminds me of the guy who works on my sep­tic sys­tem – when I need him, I REALLY NEED HIM! The first thing out of his mouth bet­ter be reas­sur­ing or I am going to go right over the edge.

Quite often, the folks on the ser­vice side of café and roaster oper­a­tions are the most knowl­edge­able peo­ple about cof­fee that we get to talk to fre­quently. They bring news about inno­va­tions and other peo­ples expe­ri­ences; they pro­vide staff train­ing on ser­vice, prepa­ra­tion, and clean­li­ness: they bring the most recent gos­sip; and all this as they quickly get us back on-line serv­ing cof­fee and keep­ing the cash reg­is­ter ring­ing. They are the mod­ern ver­sion of the trav­el­ling tin­ker; they show up at your door to ‘fix’ things for the better.

They help us keep our recipes con­sis­tent, keep com­pli­ance with indus­try stan­dards, and keep us in cal­i­bra­tion. After our cus­tomers, they may be one of the most impor­tant peo­ple in our busi­nesses. Why do they get so lit­tle love? I sus­pect it has more to do with our own des­per­a­tion and fear.

So here is a thought, if any­one should have a guild it should be the ser­vice providers. It truly is a trade group that is engaged in con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion, tech­ni­cal stan­dards, pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment, and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Wouldn’t our indus­try be well served by pro­fes­sion­ally cer­ti­fied trades peo­ple that add a layer of con­fi­dence to our operations?

I am sure that the equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers would ben­e­fit from a broader access to ser­vice groups at events, the indus­try would ben­e­fit from broader train­ing and con­sis­tency, and the ser­vice providers would ben­e­fit from a tra­di­tional guild career devel­op­ment sys­tem. Besides, they just don’t get as much respect as they deserve.

Just say­ing.

Kerri & Miles

Beans For Streams

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Just Love Coffee- Beans for StreamsProject Description
Every 30 sec­onds a child dies from a water borne ill­ness. Almost half of all peo­ple in devel­op­ing coun­tries suf­fer from health prob­lems caused by poor water san­i­ta­tion. Since 2009, Just Love Coffee Roasters has com­mit­ted 5 per­cent of all prof­its to address the water cri­sis in places like Ethiopia; where esti­mates indi­cate that 57 mil­lion peo­ple live with­out access to clean water.

Established in 2012, Beans For Streams is a phil­an­thropic pro­gram started by Just Love Coffee Roasters of Murfreesboro, TN, which sup­ports clean water projects through­out the world. Working with Waterstep (, a Louisville-based non-profit orga­ni­za­tion focused on fight­ing the world­wide water cri­sis, funds are used to pro­vide highly portable water purifi­ca­tions sys­tems and health and hygiene train­ing to the places that need it most.

What is most unique about the pro­gram is that each cup of Just Love Coffee con­sumed goes back to pro­vide clean water, as 5 per­cent of all JLCR prof­its are com­mit­ted to this pro­gram. Beans for Streams ups the ante by pro­vid­ing clean water for one per­son, for life, through the pur­chase of one bag of the fairly traded, organic cof­fees found at

We’re excited to be team­ing with Waterstep, as this part­ner­ship enables us to have the oppor­tu­nity to be directly involved with their work to pro­vide clean water to the com­mu­ni­ties that need it most,” said Rob Webb, Founder and President of Just Love Coffee Roasters.

This pro­gram fits per­fectly with the long-standing model that Rob founded Just Love Coffee Roasters upon. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee-based com­pany, which hand roasts organic, fairly traded cof­fees from around the world, was orig­i­nally estab­lished to pro­vide a turnkey fundrais­ing solu­tion for adopt­ing fam­i­lies, mission-minded groups, and non-profits.

Who Benefits from this project?
Funds are used by part­ner Waterstep ( of Louisville, Kentucky, to assem­ble portable water purifi­ca­tion sys­tems and train vol­un­teers to place these units wher­ever they are needed, both on exist­ing water wells and as new wells are being installed.

Beans For Streams is best known for being able to pro­vide clean water for one per­son for life through the sale of each bag of their spe­cial­ity cof­fees. In 2012, the funds from Beans for Streams pro­vides clean water for 40,000 peo­ple who des­per­ately needed it in Ethiopia.

How Can I Help?
Drink Just Love Coffee Roasters’ Coffees! To pur­chase cof­fee and give clean water to a per­son that needs it visit

Additionally, Just Love Coffee part­ners with vol­un­teers trav­el­ing all over the world to pro­vide train­ing and clean water sys­tems, through Waterstep. Making a trip? Contact Just Love Coffee Roasters to inquire about train­ing to install a system.

Contact Name:     Dave Williams
Web Site:
Location:     Murfreesboro/TN/USA
Email Address:
Phone Number:     615.642.9776

The View

Categories: 2013, JuneTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

This July, we once again make our mag­a­zine avail­able to NGO’s and non-profits to strut their stuff. Our “Making a Difference” issue is one of those times that we give over our audi­ence to those orga­ni­za­tions that are work­ing hard for all of our ben­e­fit to improve the qual­ity of life for folks across the coffeelands.

It seems like only a cou­ple of months ago that we last pub­lished the “Making a Difference” issue for 2012 and now once again, here it is. But really, so much has changed in our world that is mak­ing life more dif­fi­cult for smallholders:

1.    Climate Change – prob­a­bly no other dan­ger to grow­ers is more com­pelling. In this last year it has become appar­ent that the trop­ics have reached a tip­ping point in the advance of adverse climate.

a.    The Andean range is los­ing its snow pack at an alarm­ing pace as the aver­age tem­per­a­ture range rises and reaches into higher alti­tudes. Snowmelt is the lifeblood of the lush grow­ing areas of the east­ern slope of the Andes through­out Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

b.    The ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in the trop­ics are caus­ing shifts in the high alti­tude atmos­pheric rota­tion, which is pulling frigid air from the poles closer to the trop­ics. (Think Brazil, Tanzania, and Mexico)

c.    Another record hur­ri­cane sea­son is pred­i­cated in the Atlantic that not only will poten­tially cause increased dam­age to crops dur­ing the blos­som sea­son for cof­fee, but more impor­tantly, mas­sive destruc­tion of infra­struc­ture and heart­break­ing loss of life and liveli­hood in the trop­ics, as well as sig­nif­i­cant dis­rup­tion of ship­ping in the Gulf.

d.    The cyclonic mon­soon rains so pre­dictable in the past are now fiercer and more vari­able, miss­ing some parts of the world and drown­ing oth­ers. (Think India and ulti­mately Central America)

e.    The typhoon sea­son in the Pacific is shap­ing up to pound Indonesia, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia with the accom­pa­ny­ing mas­sive loss of life and infra­struc­ture. The com­ing typhoon sea­son is com­pounded with an El Niño that is pre­dicted to be neu­tral increas­ing rain­fall in the South Pacific and South China Sea (which may actu­ally be good news to the west­ern coasts of Latin America but not so good news for the Andean snowpack.)

f.    Continuing reduced mois­ture and ris­ing tem­per­a­tures in the Sub Sahara is not only threat­en­ing aver­age rain­fall lev­els in the high­lands of Ethiopia and Uganda but also water lev­els in the Great Rift Valley lakes. Food secu­rity is a rapidly grow­ing issue as pop­u­la­tions have lit­tle flex­i­bil­ity and resilience against sud­den crop loss and reduced fish stocks.

2.    La Roya (leaf rust) – chang­ing con­di­tions have facil­i­tated the rapid expan­sion of leaf rust through­out Central America dec­i­mat­ing the cur­rent crop and poten­tial future crops by weak­en­ing the cof­fee trees’ vital­ity. The poten­tial that the United State’s lead­ing cof­fee sup­ply­ing region may no longer be able to sup­port cof­fee grow­ing on a macro scale has become possible.

3.    The rapid con­sol­i­da­tion of cof­fee pro­duc­tion into four major sup­plier coun­tries threat­ens to shift the pri­or­i­ti­za­tion lesser sup­plier coun­tries place on cof­fee as an export prod­uct and instead focus on inter­nal con­sump­tion. This year four coun­tries (Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, and Indonesia) account for 67% of all the cof­fee exported this year. This grad­ual shift toward a small club of pro­duc­ing coun­tries is made more dra­matic when one con­sid­ers that the next six coun­tries on the list rep­re­sent 23% of the cof­fee exported this year – that is 90% of all the cof­fee pro­duced this year came from only 10 coun­tries! The poten­tial threat this poses to the inter­na­tional sup­ply chain can­not be over­stated. Political unrest, nat­ural dis­as­ter, infra­struc­ture col­lapse, food inse­cu­rity, and other poten­tial events can have an imme­di­ate neg­a­tive effect on both large and small grow­ers, and of course on the reli­a­bil­ity of the sup­ply chain.

So this year there is much to con­sider. The human cost of these and other poten­tial­i­ties is dra­matic and ter­ri­ble to con­sider. The orga­ni­za­tions both large and small that will present next month are on the front line of these and other causes. Please tune in next month to learn about their pur­poses and goals and if you are moved to action donate money or time (or both) toward them. They are the heart of our industry.

As in past years, the orga­ni­za­tion that has the most click-thrus from their arti­cle to their web­site will receive a $1000 cash dona­tion from CoffeeTalk Media so get clickin’.

Kerri & Miles

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