Coffee and Tea Reports
from the Front Lines
New Earth-Friendly Coffee Guidelines Released
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Three of the nation’s leading environmental groups recently released a comprehensive set of guidelines for producing environmentally-friendly coffee and pledged to cooperate in building markets for sustainable coffee in the U.S. and internationally. “Conservation Principles for Coffee Production” was unveiled jointly by Conservation International, the Rainforest Alliance and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
The document, “Conservation Principles for Coffee Production,” developed by the conservation groups in consultation with coffee stakeholders around the world, outlined the fundamental characteristics that coffee farms and processing facilities must meet to safeguard ecological health in coffee-growing regions.
Also participating were the Songbird Foundation, Seattle Audubon, and the National Wildlife Federation. Providing an advisory role in the development of the Principles were Amcafé, Brazilian Specialty Coffee Association, Colombian Coffee Federation, Coordinadora Estatal de Productores de Café de oaxaca (CEPCO), Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), Dunkin’ Donuts Inc., East African Fine Coffees Association, Fair Trade Labeling Organization (FLO), Falls Brook Centre, Global Environment Facility, Indian Institute of Plantation Management, International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), Royal Coffee, Specialty Coffee Association of America, Starbucks, US Agency for International Development and the World Bank.
In recent years, changes in the way coffee is grown have led to clearing of rainforests, losses of bird and wildlife habitat, declines in biodiversity, and increased dependency on chemicals and pesticides. Alarmed, conservation groups have increasingly focused on encouraging coffee growers to adopt or improve upon environmentally-friendly techniques.
“Everyone concerned with sustainable coffee, growers, importers, roasters, retailers, environmentalists and consumers, now have a common foundation for evaluating the environmental impact of their coffee,” said Christopher London, coffee program director at the Consumer’s Choice Council, which coordinated the development of the Principles. “We developed these principles to help strengthen the sustainable coffee movement, and promote greater clarity on conservation issues. We hope this will lead to more opportunities to collaborate in promoting conservation in the world coffee industry. “
The Conservation Principles focus on seven areas of concern in coffee production: ecosystem and wildlife conservation, soil conservation, water conservation and protection, energy conservation, waste management, pest and disease management, and sustainable livelihoods for farmers.
Shade Grown Mexico Coffee Steps into the Spotlight
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - Starbucks Coffee Company recently unveiled Shade Grown Mexico coffee for the third consecutive year through its partnership with Conservation International (CI). This year, Starbucks purchased its largest supply of Shade Grown Mexico coffee to meet increased demand in several added distribution channels. Starbucks has also supplemented the coffee’s re-introduction by adding an interactive online experience to its web site that brings the endangered cloud forest of Chiapas, Mexico - the source of this environmentally friendly coffee - into the homes of consumers.
“Starbucks and CI have made a difference in farmers’ lives with the sale of this exceptional coffee,” said Orin Smith, Starbucks president and ceo. “By paying a premium price for this shade grown coffee, Starbucks improves the well-being of coffee farmers and encourages them to preserve the forest environment. Inspired by the success of this project through CI’s Conservation Coffee program, Starbucks will support five additional sites around the world where coffee and conservation can work together.”
In addition to the expanded Shade Grown Mexico coffee offering, Starbucks has developed an interactive online experience entitled “On Good Grounds” that brings the unique region of Chiapas, Mexico to life. Internet users everywhere are able to watch, listen and learn about the people and animals that inhabit this magnificent, tropical region rich in biodiversity. The site can be accessed at http://www.starbucks.com/ongoodgrounds or linked to directly from Starbucks.com or Conservation.org.
When visiting the interactive site, people can actually see how CI’s Chiapas coffee project is benefiting those farmers who commit themselves to protecting the environment. In just three years, there has been a 220% increase in acreage involved in the CI project, and participating cooperatives have received more than $600,000 in financing for their coffee exports. This past year, participating farmers received 65% more than the local price for their coffee and are exporting 50% more coffee than last year.
“This work in coffee producing regions is making a real difference in the quality of the natural environment within the biodiversity hotspots while raising the standard of living for farmers,” said Peter Seligmann, chairman and ceo of CI. “Our partnership with Starbucks is proving that the leaders of the coffee industry can integrate biodiversity conservation into their business, creating a net benefit for the environment and their bottom line.”
ICO takes Measures to Improve Coffee Quality on the World Market
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - The International Coffee Organization (ICO) and the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (ACPC) announced that they would cooperate on a review of specific measures required to improve the quality of coffee available on the world market.
It is intended that the results of the review, which will be completed in the second half of July, will be available in September at the next scheduled meetings of the two organizations, in order to facilitate taking practical action in terms of specific undertakings which will result in the diversion from the market of sufficient volumes of low-grade quality coffee to significantly improve the overall quality of coffee for the consumer, and provide more remunerative prices to producers. The ICO composite indicator price on May 31, 2001 was US 45.28 cents per pound, compared with annual averages for 1998, 1999 and 2000 of 108.95, 85.72 and US 64.25 cents per pound respectively.
This action follows from the adoption by the International Coffee Council of Resolution number 399 on May 24, 2001.
New Uses for Coffee
COSTA RICA - Scientists from Japan to Colombia have been searching for new uses for the famous coffee cherry, as global inventories for the aromatic beans remain stubbornly high.
“There are researchers in Japan working on all kinds of alternative uses for coffee, even wall and roofing panels for houses if you can believe it,” said Luis Zamora, the technician leading coffee investigation at Costa Rica’s Coffee Institute (Icafé).
With global production and coffee inventories going ever higher, the price of coffee - the world’s most-traded commodity after crude oil - has dropped to eight-year lows in the past two years.
In May, the Latin American producers persuaded the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (ACPC), a powerful growers group, to adopt the program in principal.
But even before accords were reached in Latin America, leading growers in the region began to examine ways to use some of their poorest quality coffees.
In Costa Rica, research at the government level has been limited to using coffee as an alternate fuel source for industry, particularly in the areas of cement and glassmaking.
Icafé’s Zamora said coffee burning experiments show the beans burn hotter and have a higher calorific value than wood and a host of other traditional fuels used in industry.
“We have conducted laboratory testing to see how much energy coffee cherries produce when they are burned and so far so good,” said Zamora. He said that testing would soon begin at the industrial level and could use the burning of about 50 tons of coffee per day in ovens at cement factories.
The trick, he said, is to create special conveyer belts that would dump the low-grade coffees into fuel ovens, equipment that would require new investment by some companies.
Zamora said coffee as a fuel would probably be well accepted in nations with strict environmental codes, especially in cottage industries that use materials such as old tires and other waste to fuel their small ovens.
There is no shortage of beans to be used for testing in the Americas, where many a plantation is still littered with coffee cherries that went unpicked because growers could not afford to harvest them.
Guatemala Online Auction Yields High Prices for Coffee
GUATEMALA - Guatemala’s National Coffee Association (ANACAFE) reported that the average price for coffee sold at its First Cup of Excellence Internet Auction of Guatemalan Exceptional Coffees was US$3.94 per pound - more than $2.30 above current spot futures prices.
Encouraged by the results, Anacafé said its goal is to decrease future dependence on prices fixed as a regular commodity and to encourage Guatemala’s production of exceptional coffees. Recently, its board of directors has focused on new marketing alternatives that emphasize quality as opposed to plentiful supply as a product advantage, it said.
But although the lots up for sale during the Internet Auction fetched prices higher than those available on the Coffee Sugar and Cocoa Exchange, organizers emphasized that the event does not represent a definitive solution to the crisis affecting the coffee growers.
“The results shouldn’t generate false expectations since the First Guatemalan Internet Auction was designed as a pilot program and only the 15 top producers are participating from among large, medium and small growers,” said Anacafé’s president Manfredo Töpke. “The selected coffees are those that scored the highest among 200 samples from throughout the country, and were graded by 21 internationally renowned experts during the First National Exceptional Coffee Contest. The selection process guarantees transparency for the buyer throughout the whole process.”
Tea & Coffee - August/September 2001
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