Seeding Coffee’s Future: A Conversation About Conservation and Verification

By Hanna Neuschwander, World Coffee Research

 [Ed. note: To learn more about this groundbreaking research, join Garold LaRue II (NSF International) Brian Lainoff (Global Crop Diversity Trust) and Tracy Ging (S&D Coffee & Tea, World Coffee Research) for the breakout session “Seeding the Future,” at the NCA Annual Convention 2017, March 23-25, Austin, TX]

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An unidentified Coffea species found in Madagascar, which is preserved in a coffee genebank. Ensuring these genebanks have adequate funding to continue operations should be a major priority of the coffee industry. Source: Sarada Krishnan

Sometimes facts are so obvious they become invisible.

In the case of coffee, one of those facts is this: Coffee comes from a plant. The entire $225 billion dollar coffee industry in the U.S. is built up from the roots of billions of living, breathing coffee plants that spend their days turning sunlight into fruit. Once you stop and think about it, it’s kind of profound. Nearly 1.7 million jobs — including, if you are reading this, probably yours — depend on those plants doing their thing, photosynthesizing, outsmarting diseases and pests, being rained on at the right time in the right amounts.

It’s also profound to think about just how fragile the entire arrangement is. The vast majority of coffee plants in the field today are really, really (really) genetically similar. Most varieties are not resistant to major diseases. Most are way too old (World Coffee Research guesses that about 50% of coffee trees are more than 50 years old). That leaves coffee especially vulnerable — to disease epidemics like the one that devastated Central American production after 2012, to extremes in weather like excessive rain or drought or frost.

When crops are facing challenges like these, it helps to go back to basics: Coffee is a plant. So — what is needed to help the plant thrive? And, thereby, to help the humans who depend on it?

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Innovation, Sustainability, and the Global Coffee Industry

By Bambi Semroc, Conservation International

[Ed. note: To learn more about this project, join Bambi Semroc and Annette Pensel, Global Coffee Platform, for the breakout session “Making Coffee the First Sustainable Commodity,” at the NCA Annual Convention 2017, March 23-25, Austin, TX]

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Source: Conservation International, Cristina Mittermeier ©

Innovation is all around us.

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.

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How to Be a Better Boss: Leadership in Coffee Operations

By Andrew Russo
The following post is an excerpt from Fresh Cup Magazine

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In 2005 I stood in front of thirty soldiers, all with more experience than me, and was introduced as their leader. I was barely twenty-one years old, standing in front of a wide range of people of different ages, education levels, and socio-demographic backgrounds. Soon we would jump out of airplanes together, deploy together—and they expected me to lead them through it all. Sound intimidating? It is.

In coffee, taking charge of experienced baristas, roasters, and buyers is equally intimidating. How a team is led can make or break the experience.

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The Business Strategy Behind Your Local Coffee Shop

By Vivian Giang, Fundera

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The way Americans drink coffee has changed drastically. According to the New York Times, Americans drink less coffee today than we did in the past, but we’re drinking higher quality, better brewed cups.

In fact, according to a 2014 National Coffee Drinking Trends study from the National Coffee Association (NCA), daily consumption of gourmet coffee among adults in the U.S. is up 34% in 2014, a 3% rise compared to 2013.

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5 Coffee Industry Trends You Can’t Miss in 2017

By Tyler Hubbell
This post originally appeared on the Repsly blog

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In one form or another, chances are almost everyone you know starts their day with coffee – be it home-brewed, bottled, or purchased hot or iced from a coffee shop. As longstanding as its popularity may be, the coffee industry is in the midst of a rapid change.

As millennials’ fast-paced lifestyle becomes ubiquitous, consumers are preferring to get their caffeine on the go. In turn, retailers are experimenting with novel ways to speed up ordering and get busy shoppers back in their stores.

Here are the five coffee industry trends that will dominate 2017:  Continue reading

19 Signs of Executive-Level Leadership

By Bill Murray, NCA, CEO

See the full post on LinkedIn or visit the Coffee Career Center resource page for more leadership tips. 

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With thanks to Laura Freebairn-Smith of the Organizational Performance Group, for permission to cite her findings. 

Ensuring that the right organizational leadership is in place is a task that is so challenging that it has spawned an entire industry.

Whether you search the web or pop into an old-school brick-and-mortar bookstore, the amount of advice on offer about “being a leader” is staggering.

One of the reasons that leadership can be a challenging subject is because it pertains to human behavior. A second difficulty relates to things like stylistic differences, gaps between what is said vs. what is done, and self-promotion.

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The NCA Coffee Summit Provides an Opportunity to Dive Deep into the Market

By Julio Sera, INTL FCStone

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One of my favorite aspects of working in the coffee trade – as opposed to markets like soybeans, precious metals or government bonds (like some of my colleagues) – is that so many people have such a direct experience with it every morning. In fact, we drink approximately 3.5 billion cups of coffee each day – equivalent to one cup each for nearly half of all the people on earth right now. That’s a lot of folks “jonesing” for “Joe.”

Stats like that ensure that I’m never at a loss for conversation starters. For example, can you name the top 10 coffee-producing countries in the world? In order?

How about the top 5 importers globally? (This one’s a bit of a trick question, which I’ll get into below.) Continue reading

How to Open a Coffee Shop: The Complete Guide

By Sara Brown, Bond Street 

The full version of this post originally appeared on Bond Street

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How can a passionate affinity for coffee and a stirring desire to create something of your own manifest into a successful business?

If you’re overwhelmed by the multitude of initiatives associated with building a new business and are looking for a step-by-step guide that breaks down the everything you need to know about starting a coffee shop enterprise, you’ve come to the right place.

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Bees Partner with Coffee Farmers to Save the Farm

By Janice Nadworny, co-director of Food 4 Farmers

Ed. Note: Like so many farmers and workers around the world, coffee producers can face challenges that threaten their livelihoods – from natural disasters like la roya to inadequate local resources. Here, Food 4 Farmers shares one possible solution for these communities. Not only does beekeeping facilitate viable income diversification, but it also helps to sustain the environment for future harvests.

The following is an excerpt of a post originally published on Fairtrade America.

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A survey of households in Mexico, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala found that, on average, 63% of coffee households suffered food insecurity during the year. This seasonal food insecurity has a name: Los Meses Flacos, or the thin months of hunger. Families survive by eating less, eating cheap processed food, or going into debt to buy food. (SCAA, from the Blueprint to End Hunger)

Many families resort to off-farm work, neglecting the needs of their farms, with negative consequences for the following year’s harvest. My NGO, Food 4 Farmers, is working to make sure coffee farmers have the option to stay and thrive. Continue reading