Considering the future of coffee – ICO launches ‘Coffee Development Report 2019’

Much of the recent discussion in the mainstream media related to coffee has been about the ‘coffee crisis’, the historic low of coffee prices, and the impact this is having on the livelihoods of coffee farmers around the world (Alameida, 2019; Jha, 2019; Prasad, 2019; Terazono, 2019 are just some examples).  It has been discussed extensively within the coffee community, at multiple international events with stakeholders from across the industry – you can listen to some of these discussions and views from various stakeholders online. For example the SCA’s webinar as part of a series on the coffee price crisis or Ric Rinehart’s lecture reflecting on the coffee price crisis from this year’s Re:Co symposium. A series of ‘Calls for Action’ have been launched by organisations (e.g. Global Coffee Platform and World Coffee Producers forum) and individuals.

This month, the International Coffee Organisation (2019) launched a new flagship publication – The coffee Development Report 2019: Growing for prosperity: Economic viability at as the catalyst for a sustainable coffee sector – which explores the complexity of the coffee price crisis and the sustainability of the sector more generally. The report uses a range of ICO data, complemental by data from external sources as well as outcomes of dialogues at a series of international events to approach some of the issues around the sustainability of the coffee sector.

It is an in-depth report with a wealth of information that I would never be able to effectively summarise in one blog post. Crucially it is an important contribution to knowledge around the state of the coffee sector and will hopefully prompt further discussions and actions that can help some of the issues affecting the coffee sector. While the report spends time documenting the state of the coffee market, and issues around price levels, volatility and the impact on livelihoods and economic and social development it also suggests a series of solutions to address some of the issues at production-level, market-level and governance-level.

Importantly, it highlights: ‘public, private and civil society actors in the coffee sector all share responsibility to be part of the solution by taking measures individually and collectively in partnership’ (p.43). But also that: ‘there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the coffee sector as production systems vary greatly between countries and regions’ (p.67).

The report is rich in information about the coffee sector, the multiple stakeholders that affect its operations and the range of challenges it faces. The geography teacher side of me can see a range of teaching materials that could be producers around this report, around coffee, global value chains, and global challenges. The researcher side of me can see how this can clearly act as a spring board to a series of research projects, and should certainly act as a starting point for dialogue around various issues facing the coffee sector.


Alameida, I. (2019) Starbucks pays farmers $20 million more as coffee crisis deepens. Bloomberg. Available at:

Jha, M. (2019) Coffee Prices in London Tumble to a nine-year low. Bloomberg 08/10/2019. Available at:

Prasad, R. (2019) How the 2019 coffee crisis might affect you. BBC News 11/07/19. Available at:

Terazono, E. (2019) Trades wake up to the cost of coffee crisis. Financial Times. 17/04/2019. Available at:

This entry was posted in Coffee, coffee culture, Coffee Growing, Coffee industry, Commentaries, data, ICO, Reports, research, Sustainability and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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