Coffee: a vade mecum example

(N.B. I'll add to this in 2004 via a coffee logfile)

10 June 2002
Coffee strikes me as an excellent candidate for a Global Stewardship example, also eminently relevant to examination of environmental justice issues. It's necessary to start to gather up the materials:

books in Annie

Here's what I found on a Starbuck's cup the other day:

Building Relationships With Coffee Growers
By traveling to origin countries and talking
with coffee growers about the quality we
seek, we create truly global partnerships.
It is these valued friedships, built over
many years, that allow us to offer the
world's most exceptional coffees.

That can be disassembled and analyzed into a remarkable collection of messages...

Here are some links that should be helpful in sorting out this topic:

Fair Trade Coffee Campaign and news (

TransFair USA

Equal Exchange

Café Campesino

Uncommon Grounds

Sexto Sol Center for Community Action (Chiapas)

Fair Trade Federation (a zine) and A Quick Guide to Sustainable Coffee

Mountain Groan In Chiapas, fair-trade coffee farming is backbreaking and hazardous. Picking the beans is the easy part. BY JULIE GROSSMAN EL BOSQUE, MEXICO


The Struggle for Control of a Commodity Chain: Instant Coffee from Latin America (in Research Reports and Notes) John M. Talbot Latin American Research Review, Vol. 32, No. 2. (1997), pp. 117-135.

Coffee and Power in El Salvador Jeffery M. Paige Latin American Research Review, Vol. 28, No. 3. (1993), pp. 7-40.

Coffee Planters, Politics, and Development in Brazil Mauricio A. Font Latin American Research Review, Vol. 22, No. 3. (1987), pp. 69-90.
and Coffee Planters, Politics, and Development in Brazil: A Comment on Mauricio Font's Analysis (in Commentary and Debate) Verena Stolcke Latin American Research Review, Vol. 24, No. 3. (1989), pp. 136-142.

coffee statistics links and production statistics

International Coffee Organization

Conservation Agricultural Network Coffee Standards and Indicators (Sustainable Agriculture Network, .pdf)


11 June
Two from Web of Science:

Copyright * 2002 Institute for Scientific Information

FN ISI Export Format
VR 1.0
PT Journal
AU Hillocks, R
TI Coffee: is it still a viable cash crop for smallholders in
AB Smallholder coffee production in Africa has declined over the
   last 10 years due to a combination of unfavourable producer
   prices, inefficient marketing and the high cost of inputs
   resulting from economic structural adjustment policies and lack
   of credit facilities. Although there is currently a surplus of
   coffee on the world market and prices may remain low for some
   time as a result, the 'fair trade' sector is expanding,
   offering a marketing opportunity for smallholders. This article
   examines some of the problems currently facing the smallholder
   sector in Africa and suggests that adapting the principles of
   integrated crop management (ICM) to the needs of coffee
   smallholders can contribute to the profitability and
   sustainability of the sector.
BP 205
EP 211
PG 7
JI Outlook Agric.
PY 2001
VL 30
IS 3

PT Journal
AU Rice, RA
TI Noble goals and challenging terrain: Organic and fair trade
   coffee movements in the global marketplace
AB Social relations associated with conventional agricultural
   exports find their origins in long term associations based on
   business, family, and class alliances. Working outside these
   boundaries presents a host of challenges, especially where
   small producers with little economic or political power are
   concerned. Yet, in many developing countries, alternative trade
   organizations (ATOs) based on philosophies of social justice
   and/or environmental well-being are carving out spaces
   alongside traditional agricultural export sectors by
   establishing new channels of trade and marketing. Coffee
   provides a case in point, with the fair trade and certified
   organic movements making inroads into the market place. In
   their own ways, these movements represent a type of economic
   and social restructuring from below, drawing upon and
   developing linkages beyond the traditional boundaries of how
   coffee is produced and traded. An examination of the
   philosophies of the fair trade and organic coffee movements
   reveal that the philosophical underpinnings of both certified
   organic and fair-trade coffee run counter to the historical
   concerns of coffee production and trade. Associations of small
   producers involved in these coffees face stiff challenges -
   both internal and external to their groups. More work,
   especially in situ fieldwork aimed at uncovering the
   challenges, benefits, tensions, and successes, is needed to
   understand better the ways these networks operate in the
   dynamic agro-food complex.
BP 39
EP 66
PG 28
JI J. Agric. Environ. Ethics
PY 2001
VL 14
IS 1

...and a few from a search in Cambridge Scientific Abstracts (an experiment with downloading using EndNotes).

12 June
a set from HOLLIS selected from 1600+ (again, an EndNote experiment)

from Annie:

CALL NO.     F1465.2.M3 W38 1992.
AUTHOR       Watanabe, John, 1952-
TITLE        Maya saints and souls in a changing world / by John M. Watanabe.
IMPRINT      Austin : University of Texas Press, 1992.
SUBJECT      Mam Indians -- Social conditions.
SUBJECT      Mam Indians -- Economic conditions.
SUBJECT      Coffee plantation workers -- Guatemala -- Santiago
               Chimaltenango -- Social conditions.
SUBJECT      Wages -- Coffee plantation workers -- Guatemala -- Santiago 
SUBJECT      Coffee trade -- Guatemala -- Santiago Chimaltenango.
SUBJECT      Santiago Chimaltenango (Guatemala) -- Social conditions.
SUBJECT      Santiago Chimaltenango (Guatemala) -- Economic conditions.
1 > Leyburn-Level 4        F1465.2.M3 W38 1992    

CALL NO.     HD9199.U54 S773 1997.
AUTHOR       Schultz, Howard.
TITLE        Pour your heart into it : how Starbucks built a company one cup 
               at a time / Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang.
IMPRINT      New York, NY : Hyperion, c1997.
SUBJECT      Starbucks Coffee Company.
SUBJECT      Coffee industry -- United States.
1 > Leyburn-Level 4        HD9199.U54 S773 1997           

CALL NO.     HD9199.A2 D53 1999.
AUTHOR       Dicum, Gregory.
TITLE        The coffee book : anatomy of an industry from crop to the last 
               drop / Gregory Dicum and Nina Luttinger.
IMPRINT      New York : New Press : Distributed by W.W. Norton, c1999.
SUBJECT      Coffee industry.
SUBJECT      Coffee.
1 > Leyburn-Level 4        HD9199.A2 D53 1999     

CALL NO.     HD9199.A2 B27 1997.
AUTHOR       Bates, Robert H.
TITLE        Open-economy politics : the political economy of the world coffee
               trade / Robert H. Bates.
IMPRINT      Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c1997.
SUBJECT      Coffee industry.
SUBJECT      International Coffee Organization (1962- )
1 > Leyburn-Level 4        HD9199.A2 B27 1997              

Two from Denmark's Centre for Development Research:

Ponte, Stefano. Coffee markets in East Africa: Local responses to global challenges or global responses to local challenges? CDR Working Paper Subseries no. xv. 01.5.

Ponte, Stefano. The 'latte revolution'? Winners and losers in the restructuring of the global coffee marketing chain. CDR Working Paper Subseries no. xiii. 01.3.

14 June
Kate pointed me to Utne Reader Nov/Dec 1994, pp 57-75, a series of articles on coffee.

The current collection of 152 EndNote references, including some of those shown above, in chronological order (except for a few at the head that aren't dated).

I'd like to find material on the development of the 'full-sun' varieties, said to have taken place in the 1970s. AGRICOLA produces little, and nothing at all to confirm the statement that "in the 1970s... US agricultural scientists developed a new, high-yield coffee plant that grows in full sun" (Utne pg 63). There are plenty of Web documents about birds and shade ("Full-sun coffee plantations are virtual biological deserts..."), and the best source I've found so far that goes beyond the slightly hysterical is Shawn Steiman's Shade vs. Sun Coffee: A review.

At I find this: "The infamous W.H. Cowgill developed robusta hybrids that would grow in full sun in Guatemala. Costa Rica was the first country to adopt full sun coffee with the result that today almost all coffee from Costa Rica is sun grown..." ...but I can't find anything else about 'infamous'. I think the author must mean 'Cargill', though I can't confirm that they did (or even supported) the hybrid developing:


Cargill Inc., the largest North American exporter of cereals announced their decision to close their worldwide Coffee Division. In a press statement the company advised that after a thorough analysis of their coffee business it was concluded that the resources involved should be directed to more profitable areas of operations.

Cargill has been active in the coffee market for over 17 years with commercial operations in all the major producing countries including Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and India. Trading operations were controlled through their headquarters in Switzerland with representatives and sales offices in all the principal consuming markets. It was reported that the Brazil company had an average annual coffee movement or about 1.2 million bags and total sales (all commodities of about US$2.9 billion or about 5% of Cargill sales worldwide).

It was also announced that ECOM Agroindustrial Corporation, the Swiss/Spanish holding company of the commodity branches of Esteve S.A. had negotiated the acquisition of the Coffee Division of Cargill Inc., as well as their unshipped coffee commitments. Esteve and Cargill in recent years have been among the top ten exporters of Brazilian green coffee. With the Cargill purchase, ECOM will become the third largest coffee trading firm after the Neumann Gruppe AG of Germany and Volcafe S.A. of Switzerland.

Like Cargill, Pully, Switzerland-based ECOM, is one of the largest closed capital companies. - Harry C. Jones

Merging Ecological and Social Criteria for Agriculture: the Case of Coffee (M.S. Research Paper by Jennifer McLean University of Maryland, December 1997)

Coffee Anyone? Recent Research on Latin American Coffee Societies (Steven C. Topik)

17 June
We should have a collection of statistical and other 'factual' assertions:

"Four huge multinational corporations control 70 per cent of the world's coffee market: Philip Morris, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, and Sara Lee." (

"The changeover to sun grown coffee was massive, a conversion of nearly 40% of coffee growing land in Latin America and the Caribbean during the early Nineties" (

"Growing coffee bushes underneath the shade of the Backbone or Inga trees is not a new development in the business. In fact, all coffee originally was grown in this manner, a method that continued up until the 1970s when there was a move to modernize the coffee industry. Genetic engineering techniques paved the way for new hybrids that exhibit sun tolerance. The advantage of these new hybrid cocoa plants is their ability to produce more coffee per hectare of land. The disadvantage to sun exposed plants is that they are vulnerable to what native growers call la broca, a troublesome insect for sun-grown coffee also called the Coffee berry borer." (

" in the 1970s, large farms changed the way they grew coffee in order to produce higher yields and to protect against fungal disease. As a result, hundreds of thousands of acres were clear cut, many of them with the help of funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In their place, a sun-grown variety was planted on large farms." (

"... nearly half the world's coffee producers have succumbed to technological "advancements" and are now producing sun-grown coffee in order to reap rapid yields and short-term economic gain. These mass production "advantages," however, exact an enormous toll. Sun-grown coffee requires heavier chemical inputs, is more costly to maintain, and drastically depletes the life-span of the plant. It also has transformed coffee plantations into ecological deserts where fauna and flora are unable to survive and land degradation, water pollution, and chemical poisoning are rampant. In addition, sun-grown coffee has decimated indigenous cultures who encounter ongoing health hazards and face economic devastation." (

"Coffee is the second most widely traded legal commodity on the international market, second only to oil. Coffee supports the economies of some fifty producing countries and garners an average of $55 billion in worldwide sales" (

"about 40 percent of the 6.9 million acres planted in coffee from Mexico to Columbia have been replaced by open groves of higher-yielding, faster-growing, sun-loving varieties." (

American University Trade Environment Database Case Studies include these: Shade Coffee and Coffee Exports from Costa Rica and Environmental and Cultural Implications of Guatemalan Coffee Production and Vietnam, Coffee Exports and the Environment

Bees give coffee crops a buzz: Insect-pollinated plants yield more. Nature 13 June 2002

Insect-pollinated bushes yield over 50% more beans than plants that are shielded from bees... Coffee was traditionally grown in mixed plantations, with other plants beneath and above it. This creates a rich habitat for birds, insects and other wildlife, and a healthy bee population.

But much of the world's production has moved to intensive, coffee-only fields. This gives bigger crops at first, but yields in many places are falling, perhaps because more homogeneous plantations are bad for pollinators.

Sun-grown coffee also tastes worse than that grown in shade. With coffee prices low, growers should be switching back to a premium, ecologically friendly crop, says Roubik. Unfortunately, it's harder to restore diverse plantations than it is to cut them down.

References: Roubik, D. W. The value of bees to the coffee harvest. Nature, 417, 708, (2002).

Measuring Consumer Interest in Mexican Shade-grown Coffee: An Assessment of the Canadian, Mexican and US Markets (pdf version)

Shade-grown coffee: for the birds?

"You can't use shade grown coffee as a panacea for the conservation of all bird species," Roberts said. "I hope the people and conservation groups promoting shade grown coffee will read this and take it into consideration." (

(The Web is awash in sites that connect songbirds and shade-grown coffee... but I've had considerable difficulty finding much of anything on the "other side" --the same statistics quoted again and again, to the effect that there are "94-97% fewer bird species in commercial sun grown coffee than shade grown coffee") business page

Management of Coffee Rust from American Phytopathological Society (with a photo of a billboard in Chiapas, Mexico: "Coffee grower, prepare yourself against coffee rust. Prune, remove shade, and fertilize.")

From the following (and especially their bibliographies) I hope to be able to develop a set of sources on coffee agronomics:

Advances in coffee biotechnology from AgBiotechNet® 1999, Vol. 1 January (review article by Maria Filomena Carneiro)

Induction and selection of soma clonal variation in coffee (patent 5436395)

Biotechnology for coffee breeding and genetic resource enhancement (summary)

Coffee Polymorphisms Project

Integrated Coffee Technologies, Inc.

"Because of the market size and the lack of competition we believe that there are significant business opportunities in the coffee and tea markets for the sale of plants with unique characteristics, such as the caffeine-free trait, and improved agricultural traits."

La Torcaza Estate, Panama

"An estate coffee distinguishes itself by its pure flavor. Generally, varietal coffees are mixtures of beans from many farms, and blends are mixtures of beans from many countries and regions. Yet, an estate coffee comes from a single farm that grows a coffee fine enough to stand on its own, alone."