1st October is International Coffee Day. This event is designed to both celebrate coffee and recognise the millions of people from across the globe that are involved in maintaining and developing the coffee industry from the farmers to baristas and beyond. It is estimated that around 3 billion cups of coffee are consumed every day, across the world, with this number continuing to rise each year. While this popularity and growth is something to celebrate it is also important to consider in terms of the challenges facing those working in coffee, and the challenges facing the coffee industry as a whole. This is something that International Coffee Day tries to do.
2019 has seen some of the lowest coffee prices in decades, sparking many to recognise that the coffee industry is in crisis. These prices have serious implications for the sustainability of livelihoods for coffee farmers.
“Coffee faces a dramatic issue, as the prices that producers receive today are more than 30% below the average of the last ten years, threatening the livelihoods of coffee farmers and their families”. (Source: https://www.internationalcoffeeday.org/ )
“research shows that from a US$3 cup of coffee the vast majority of small growers receive as little as the equivalent of one cent”
Related to this year’s International Coffee Day is a petition has been started on change.org for a pledge to support a living income for coffee farmers. There are also lots of events happening all over the world related to International Coffee Day which you can find out more about on the website.
On 27th September the International Coffee Organisation announced that against the backdrop of sustained low coffee prices a new taskforce was being established involving the ICO, private sector companies and organization to try and explore potential actions to stabilise price levels and ensure sustainability for the industry. It also announced in an ICO press release that it will be launching a flagship report on International Coffee Day: the 2019 Coffee Development Report priding an assessment of key trends in the coffee sector and potential actions to address some of its challenges.
To learn more about the world of coffee, the BBC has recently produced a short documentary ‘How the world came to run on coffee’.
The coffee price crisis is of course in addition to growing challenges such as climate change, and diseases such as coffee leaf rust which contribute to a multi-dimensional coffee crisis. For more information about climate change and coffee, there is an excellent report from the SCA in 2018 – Climate Change and Coffee: Acting globally and locally. A new book has also just been published ‘Coffee is Not Forever’ by Stuart McCook which charts the history of coffee leaf rust, and in doing so an environmental history of coffee.
Coffee is integral to many of my research interests: from how coffee shops became important parts of modern life; the role of coffee shops in different urban and rural spaces; to considerations of sustainability and how the circular economy can be an important concept for the coffee and coffee shop industries. The challenges facing the coffee industry affect all of these things and so are integral to my research interests too. I’ll be trying to highlight these more in the coming months as some of the findings from my research are disseminated, and integrate them more into future projects.
If you’re enjoying some coffee today, take some time to consider all the people that have been involved in creating that drink for you from the farmer who grew the coffee, the people who worked at the processing station, to the roasters and barista who prepared it for you.