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Thread: BBC feature on "Coffee Crisis"

  1. #1
    Member LauriG's Avatar
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    BBC feature on "Coffee Crisis"

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    This is obviously not about specialty coffee, but makes food for thought anyway. I decided to share in case anyone is interested but not tuned into the BBC feed...

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48631129



    Have a great weekend, everyone!

    LG

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    Previously it was “the price of coffee beans is going up, a latte will go from $4 to $10”...

    I’d happily have everyone pay the growers double the 5c they’re getting out of my $4 coffee!

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    Quote Originally Posted by LauriG View Post
    This is obviously not about specialty coffee, but makes food for thought anyway.
    "Specialty coffee" is an interesting designation: I bet if you ask most people what grade coffee they are drinking, as long as it has come from a roaster that mentions a country, gives some taste notes or has an espresso machine, I'm sure most Australian consumers assume that they are drinking and buying specialty grade coffee. Are there any consumers who think about it and who think that they are drinking sub specialty grade coffee?
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    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luca View Post
    "Specialty coffee" is an interesting designation: I bet if you ask most people what grade coffee they are drinking, as long as it has come from a roaster that mentions a country, gives some taste notes or has an espresso machine, I'm sure most Australian consumers assume that they are drinking and buying specialty grade coffee. Are there any consumers who think about it and who think that they are drinking sub specialty grade coffee?
    Its certainly a term open to interpretation, I imagine to an instant drinker any person who grinds and brews coffee from beans would be in to specialty coffee.

    I'm under no delusion as to what I consume, I buy roast and brew beans from Coffee Snobs, generally in the lower price bracket and find the results pleasing, specialty? nope, very satisfactory? definitely.
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    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Wonder what percentage of "Specialty coffee" is aimed at the especialty gullible?
    Last edited by CafeLotta; 13th July 2019 at 12:42 PM.

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    Member LauriG's Avatar
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    I just meant that the target audience and the angle of the story was more about commodity coffee trade.

    One definition for "Specialty Coffee" is something like this:

    “specialty coffee” by the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe). ... The beverage is based on beans that have been grown in an accurately defined area, and which meet the highest standards for green coffee and for its roasting, storage and brewing.” There may be many ways of defining it but traceable origin and appreciation of the flavour characteristics based on that origin, preserved all the way into the cup, would be the way I understand it .

    My intention was just to pass on an interesting coffee-related read. I like reading coffee-related stuff .
    Last edited by LauriG; 13th July 2019 at 08:11 PM. Reason: re worded
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    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Arg! Here we go again. Comparing the price of commodity beans for instant coffee to the price of a latte in the specialty marketplace. This particular line of sensationalistic writing about coffee pops up on a disturbingly regular basis. Are there problems with how many if not most of the coffee growers are being treated? You bet there is! Just as there is with virtually every other agricultural product the world over. The farmers are getting screwed by big business.

    Misrepresenting the truth is no way to solve the problem. Stop the sensationalistic BS and get back to serious journalism.


    Java "BBC you disappoint me yet again" phile
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    Totally agree Java...

    "in recent years, consumers in the US and UK have seen the price of a latte rise - though farmers see less than 2% of those profits"

    Really expect better journalism from the BBC than to confuse global industry revenue with 'profits'


    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    Arg! Here we go again. Comparing the price of commodity beans for instant coffee to the price of a latte in the specialty marketplace. This particular line of sensationalistic writing about coffee pops up on a disturbingly regular basis. Are there problems with how many if not most of the coffee growers are being treated? You bet there is! Just as there is with virtually every other agricultural product the world over. The farmers are getting screwed by big business.

    Misrepresenting the truth is no way to solve the problem. Stop the sensationalistic BS and get back to serious journalism.


    Java "BBC you disappoint me yet again" phile

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    Quote Originally Posted by LauriG View Post
    I just meant that the target audience and the angle of the story was more about commodity coffee trade.

    One definition for "Specialty Coffee" is something like this:

    “specialty coffee” by the SCAE (Specialty Coffee Association of Europe). ... The beverage is based on beans that have been grown in an accurately defined area, and which meet the highest standards for green coffee and for its roasting, storage and brewing.” There may be many ways of defining it but traceable origin and appreciation of the flavour characteristics based on that origin, preserved all the way into the cup, would be the way I understand it .

    My intention was just to pass on an interesting coffee-related read. I like reading coffee-related stuff .
    Yep, I thought what you were saying is that the article is about the C-Market and therefore not relevant to what a lot of people drink because a lot of people drink "specialty coffee".

    This is fascinating.

    As you say, there are pretty technical definitions of the phrase "specialty coffee". People are licensed to grade it and it's graded based on taste and visual defects. There are people whose jobs are basically just grading coffee. Worth noting that it's about freedom of defect and certain minimum taste characteristics at the green coffee stage. The roaster can - and often does - still bugger it up. People might not like coffee that passes that grade and people might like coffee that fails that grade. (I'll reiterate what I post constantly; I totally respect that people have different taste preferences.) But it does mean something and it should at the very least be a guarantee of some minimum standard for consumers. But no one seems to actually police use of the term in Australia, so there's a powerful incentive for roasters to use it to imply quality that their green does not in fact meet.

    I don't know that, in fact, roasters in Australia who use that phrase actually do use green that passes the grade.

    But let's look at what consumers think.

    I'm putting words in people's mouths here, so feel free to respond with swift and brutal corrections if this is wrong! Yelta doesn't care. LauriG and Mal seem to think that most coffee sold as/used for espresso is specialty grade.

    There's a further point, which is that the above comments seem to also take the next step of thinking that if coffee isn't exchange grade, the exchange price is a problem. Worth noting that coffee that is high enough quality to pass the exchange grade (it's still graded based on quality, just more defects/faults/taints permitted than for premium and specialty grades) need not be traded on the exchange and coffee over the exchange grade can also be traded as exchange grade commodity coffee. But even for coffee traded off the exchange, the C-market prices exert an influence; I gather a lot of prices are negotiated either calculated based on the C or with reference to it. It's sort of like how no consumer in Australia borrows money from the RBA at the RBA cash rate for their mortgage, and banks don't actually express their variable rates as the RBA rate plus a margin, yet variable rates have tended to move in step with the RBA rate.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luca View Post
    But let's look at what consumers think.

    I'm putting words in people's mouths here, so feel free to respond with swift and brutal corrections if this is wrong! Yelta doesn't care. .
    A bit harsh there Luca, I obviously do care, that's why I'm a long time roaster and espresso drinker.

    I've owned and used espresso machines for about 15 years, starting with a very modest Krups, and progressing slowly to the gear I use today.

    Started roasting in 2009 and have continued to roast weekly ever since.

    I know full well what I want in roasted coffee and appreciate the effort of my labours in the cup, I would question the sanity of anyone who continues to repeat the same actions weekly over a 10 year time frame for no perceived benefit over a commercially available product, so I will repeat, I care about coffee very much.

    Its simply that I don't consider what I do, or the green beans I roast exceptionally special (anyone with a lick of common sense could do similar) though people who partake of my efforts seem to disagree.
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    Hi Yelta,

    Swift and brutal response appreciated!

    I didn't mean that you don't care what's in the cup. I meant that you don't care if the coffee you are drinking has a "specialty coffee" designation. Isn't that what you were saying?

    Cheers,
    Luca

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    Luca,
    Always like your posts, (disciplined thinking is a gift nowadays).
    I'm here because the poison they started to pass off as coffee in the Sydney cafe's, (starting about 15 years ago) became undrinkable.
    Before that I was drinking 5-7 long blacks a day for a total of 25 years whilst interviewing in my favourite Sydney cafe's and happy just to keep buying the stuff.
    I put this shift down to the new low altitude grown adapted cheap Robusta that was flooding the Sydney market.
    I think this flooding is responsible for the crashing of the "rubbish coffee" prices.
    Hopefully this will encourage some of the short sighted greedy corporates to stay out of "food" markets in future and the market will produce more of what we want, not what the advertising cons us into, (this bit reminds me of CD's).
    Meanwhile I support the good producers with my purchases and the bad producers are irrelevant.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luca View Post
    Hi Yelta,

    Swift and brutal response appreciated!

    I didn't mean that you don't care what's in the cup. I meant that you don't care if the coffee you are drinking has a "specialty coffee" designation. Isn't that what you were saying?

    Cheers,
    Luca
    Pretty well on target there Luca, guess its to do with terminology, one persons dross is an-other's liquid gold.

  14. #14
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    I'm with Yelta on this Luca...

    I do believe that the coffee Andy sources for us, is for the most part a speciality grade coffee. Certainly not ordinary or low grade. I don't believe this of the wider coffee industry though, as I can't get out and about to test it...

    Mal.
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    Senior Member woodhouse's Avatar
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    is the coffee actually scored by anyone?

  16. #16
    Member LauriG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luca View Post


    LauriG and Mal seem to think that most coffee sold as/used for espresso is specialty grade.
    I did not make any comments like that. I know "specialty coffee" - as defined by SCA etc - is tiny compared to the rest.

    I made the misguided and pointless comment driven by my apologetic feeling and general embarrassent for daring to link BBC content aimed at instant coffee drinking consumers, in a forum full of specialty coffee drinking CoffeeSnobs . ;-) My bad.



    I should have just put the link, nothing else.
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodhouse View Post
    is the coffee actually scored by anyone?
    Depends what coffee you're talking about and where. But it's obviously not in the interests of anyone that sells coffee to be held to a third party's standards, so usually most people that sell coffee make some general statement about how everything that they sell is high quality and then say something dismissive about technical third party standards to which they might be held to account.

    People that care about it can look up the standards and have their own go at grading. The taste stuff is hard to do without having the experience of tasting samples of the particular faults and taints. Pretty easy to do green defect grading and a bunch of green defects are visible after roasting, such as insect holes, pulper nip and shells. Unfortunately, a lot of the green defects that have a bit more of an impact on the cup don't really look any different roasted, like full sours and mould.
    Last edited by luca; 14th July 2019 at 12:42 PM. Reason: Added second para.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LauriG View Post
    I did not make any comments like that. I know "specialty coffee" - as defined by SCA etc - is tiny compared to the rest.

    I made the misguided and pointless comment driven by my apologetic feeling and general embarrassent for daring to link BBC content aimed at instant coffee drinking consumers, in a forum full of specialty coffee drinking CoffeeSnobs . ;-) My bad.



    I should have just put the link, nothing else.
    You haven't done anything wrong.

    My point is that if people are dismissive of the grading standards, that's fine, and if people don't have or demand greater transparency about what is paid at origin, that's also fine. All valid decisions for consumers to make. But they can't then say that the concerns in that article don't apply to the coffee that they are buying. They don't know. That's having your cake and eating it too.
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    I guess there's another tangential point that comes out of this. Let's look at a bad case scenario. Let's say that a consumer ponies up $80/kg for roasted beans advertised as specialty coffee beans, but which are actually exchange grade. Let's say that the beans have an earthy mould defect, but they are roasted to a sort of a darker espresso roast level. A consumer buys them, is happy with a rich, chocolatey cup and doesn't notice the mould; it has largely been obscured for them by the roasting. Where's the harm? Consumer is happy. Roastery is happy. I guess maybe the competitors paying $16/kg+ at origin for green aren't all that happy, but they probably haven't lost anything, since if the consumer is happy with the stuff they have bought in this example, they won't see any value in the more expensive green from the competitor. Maybe the only loser in this scenario is the green producer, who is stuck with commodity prices, but maybe there isn't demand to support them getting a higher price for quality anyway. So in this scenario, the real issue is the "safety net" of the commodity market price for the green producer, but any misleading representations as to quality haven't actually caused any harm to anyone.
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by TroubleBrewing View Post
    Totally agree Java...

    "in recent years, consumers in the US and UK have seen the price of a latte rise - though farmers see less than 2% of those profits"

    Really expect better journalism from the BBC than to confuse global industry revenue with 'profits'
    Don't ever expect better from the BBC.

    They're the worst for clickbait nowadays, the quality of their content seems to matter not. I really dislike the BBC... If you couldn't tell!



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