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Monday Morning Coffee News

Happy Monday! Last week in coffee: Fairtrade may not be as “fair” as you thought, the U.S. pledges $14 million to find a solution to the billion dollar Coffee Rust problem, and Keurig sues Global Baristas to take back the Tully’s name.

The Fair Trade, Employment and Poverty Reduction Project (FTEPRP), a four year study funded by the The UK Department for International Development (DFID) looking into fair trade practices in Ethiopia and Uganda, made some disturbing discoveries. One of the selling points of buying and paying a little more for coffee and other products labeled as Fairtrade certified is for consumers to be assured their dollars are going to ensure the fair pay and fair working environment for workers in developing countries. The study done showed this was not always the case. Among the damning things discovered were the use of child labor on accredited farms and the “fair pay” consumers are dishing out not trickling down from producers’ income to workers’ wages. Fairtrade International responded that the study done was too generalized and making unfair comparisons to prove points. – I’m going to be honest and say that I’m not someone swayed by a Fairtrade certified stamp on a package, but if I was, studies like this one would definitely make me think twice about where exactly that extra money is going.

 – Coffee Rust, a fungus that’s killing off the coffee crops in Central America, has already cost coffee producers a billion dollars and a quarter million jobs. Now The U.S. Agency for International Development is teaming up with Texas A&M University World Coffee Research and providing $14 million towards finding the solution. The plan is to improve monitoring of the deadly disease and to develop new, Coffee Rust-resistant Arabica plants. – I hadn’t realized the problem was so bad, nor so wide spread. The fact that the government is willing to spend so much to fix the problem really speaks to how bad the problem is and 14 million dollars worth is a whole lotta bad…

 – Keurig is suing Tully’s. Kind of. Keurig bought the rights to roast Tully’s coffee and control of the brand in 2008 (basically Keurig owns licensing and supply rights). In 2013, Global Baristas bought out the actual chain stores when they went into bankruptcy. Keurig is now suing Tully’s (actually Global Baristas, this is where the “kind of” comes in) because they used another roaster to supply them with coffee for their chains and decided to change the bag designs without seeking permission from Keurig. – This is kind of confusing for me.  Sounds like a power struggle between the two companies, but I’m pretty sure Keurig is in the right, but INAL, so what do I know?

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