Coffee log file

7 February 2004
What follows continues a gatheration that began in 2002. I'm even more convinced that it's important to develop coffee as an Example for the Spring 2004 Institute.

An exchange in a recent issue of Science is what prompts me to reopen the coffee file:

Conservation Policy in Coffee Landscapes (Dietsch et al. and the response from O'Brien and Kinnaird, referring to Caffeine and Conservation)

10 March
Explorations around coffee led me to some specific resources:

Annotated coffee bibliography (I've ordered The Strength of the Indigenous People of Mut Vitz video)

Organic Agriculture and Indigenous Communities in Chiapas: Mexico: An Alternative to Rural Development Hidalgo-Monroy Wohlgemuth, Neusa. [large pdf file (7mb) --173 pages] University of California at Berkeley: MA Thesis, 1991.

...and to a digression on Max Havelaar as an early candidate for an anti-Globalization novel.

In some respects, coffee is the ideal frame or lens for Globalization: a commodity produced in many 'developing' (or 'underdeveloping') countries, but primarily consumed in the world of the 'developed'. The map Matt found yesterday ("The Magic Bean Shop") is a graphic entrée, if somewhat misleading ...what other coffee maps can we find?)

Climate change: Billions across the tropics face hunger and starvation as big drop in crop yields forecast Soaring Temperatures Force Coffee and Tea Farmers to Abandon Traditional Plantations (Source: UN Environment Programme Date: 8 Nov 2001) --see [projected] Impact of temperature rise on robusta coffee in Uganda maps ("...created by the National Coffee Association to gather and disseminate the most up-to-date information on coffee, caffeine and health in the United States...")

history of Costa Rican coffee

Brazilian coffee production

BIRDS AND BEANS: THE CHANGING FACE OF COFFEE PRODUCTION Source: World Resouces 1998-1999 Author: Adriana Valencia

green coffee site, with prices ...and small-batch roasters

and now for something truly over the top:

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. 
CALL NO. HD9199.U54 S773 1997. 

Tropical Products: World Markets and Trade from USDA, with lots of Excel data --see Dec 2003 Coffee Update

The 'latte revolution'? Winners and losers in the restructuring of the global coffee marketing chain Ponte, Stefano. CDR Working Paper Subseries no. xiii. 01.3. (38-page pdf)

Shade vs. Sun Coffee: A review by Shawn Steiman

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." (

Advances in coffee biotechnology Maria Filomena Carneiro (from the Wayback Machine)

11 March
ITDS Coffee links ("industry information by various government agencies and other external sources")

Coffee cartel shuts up shop BBC Friday, 19 October, 2001, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK

The coffee bean cartel, the Association of Coffee Producing Countries, whose members produce 70% of the global supply, will shut down in January after failing to control international prices.
Association general secretary Roberio Silva told BBC News Online that weak international coffee prices had made it impossible for many member countries, especially in Africa, to pay the fees which allow it to operate.

From a search for 'coffee wars':

Coffee Wars: Procter & Gamble v Starbucks
P&G has decided to make a serious attempt to divert some of the huge profits flowing into Starbucks' coffers.
Procter & Gamble is unveiling its Home Cafe, which uses a pressurized, single-serve coffee-making system. The technology is a combined effort of P&G, Black & Decker, Mr. Coffee, Krups, and Hamilton Beach, who control, combined, 75% of the domestic market for home-brewed coffee.
The new system is supposed to supplant conventional drip systems in the same way that drip coffee makers ousted percolated coffee in the 1970s.
The high-pressure system takes 60 seconds to brew a cup. It'll cost $60 when it hits stores in May. An 18-count pack of the tea-bag-like coffee/filter pods will cost $4. That's 22 cents a cup: not bad, if the coffee's any good.
Starbucks says it's not worried. Memo to bookofjoe readers: I GUARANTEE Starbucks will offer a similar system by Christmas. 100% certainty, or I'll eat ... well, we'll see.

from The Guardian January 22, 2003

ing again the ruthless and inhuman nature of corporate profit-raking, transnational Nestlé and 40 other companies are suing Ethiopia — which has a per capita income of $100 per year — for $500 million, claiming compensation for when their operations were nationalised by the then socialist-oriented government in 1975.
Said the chief executive of Nestlé Peter Brabeck, flaunting the arrogance his corporation is famous for, "We think it's important for the long-term welfare of the people of Africa that their governments demonstrate a capacity to comply with international law."

...and another but still relevant reading of "Coffee":

Coffee Wars: This contest is expected to draw the cream of top-notch programmers from top Indian Universities. This contest is all about writing the most optimised, efficient and secure Java code. The motto here is survival of the fittest – the best code takes home all the laurels.

Purified proteins, recombinant DNA sequences and processes for controlling the ripening of coffee plant (US Patent 5,874,269 [Stiles , et al. February 23, 1999])

Coffee is prepared from the roasted beans of the plants of the genus Coffea, generally from the species C. arabica. Beans are the seeds of the coffee plant and are obtained by processing the fruit, most ideally mature fruit which commands the best price due to its superior quality. In the past, high quality "gourmet" coffee was hand picked. This is necessary because the fruits of a coffee tree do not ripen uniformly and thus there are both mature and immature fruit on the same tree. In the past, this was not a serious problem as most coffee is grown in areas of the world where labor is plentiful and not expensive. However, more recently lack of abundant and inexpensive labor has become a major contributor to decreased productivity in coffee production. To increase productivity some regions of the world, such as the largest coffee producing country, Brazil, have resorted to strip harvesting where workers rapidly remove all fruit from a branch whether ripe or unripe. This increases the speed of harvesting but decreases the yield of the highest quality beans as much of the fruit is immature (green).

Furthermore, the lack of uniform ripening has seriously limited the effectiveness of mechanical harvesting. The force required to remove mature fruit (cherry) from the tree is similar to the force required to remove green fruit. Thus, mechanical harvesters do not distinguish well between green and cherry and a large amount of immature fruit is harvested along with mature fruit. This greatly decreases the yield of mature fruit and limits productivity. If coffee fruit ripening could be controlled so that all fruit ripened at one time, both the strip method of hand harvesting and mechanical harvesting would be much more efficient and a higher percentage of the harvested fruit would be in the higher quality grades. This would increase profitability of coffee production.

...a strategy for controlling the ripening of coffee plants is to prevent synthesis of specific enzymes in the pathway for ethylene biosynthesis. In one embodiment this invention relates to genetic alteration of coffee plants to eliminate synthesis of ACC synthase; in another, ACC oxidase synthesis is suppressed. In the presently preferred embodiments, synthesis of one or both of these enzymes is suppressed by transforming coffee plants with a DNA sequence that codes on transcription for a messenger RNA (mRNA) that is antisense to the mRNA that codes on expression for the enzyme whose synthesis is to be suppressed. See Oeller et al., Science 254:437 (1991), who reported controlling ripening of tomatoes using a similar strategy.

...Coffee plants are transformed with vectors containing ACC synthase and/or with ACC oxidase DNA sequences inserted so that the transforming sequences code on expression for the respective RNA that is antisense to the mRNA for ACC synthase and/or ACC oxidase. The resulting antisense RNA binds to mRNA(s), thereby inactivating the mRNA encoding one or more enzymes in the pathway for ethylene synthesis. The described DNA sequences can also be used to block synthesis of ACC synthase or ACC oxidase using co-suppression. The result in either event is that the transformed plants are incapable of synthesizing ethylene, though other aspects of their metabolism is not affected.

Ripening in the transformed plants can be regulated by exogenous ethylene. By application of ethylene to the entire plant, the entire plant will ripen at once, making mechanical harvesting of coffee more productive.

Coffee consumption statistics for nations, and US coffee consumption per capita 1960-2002

And of caffeine:
"Caffeine is known medically as trimethylxanthine, and the chemical formula is C8H10N4O2..." (

Caffeine is the only FDA-approved nonprescription or over-the-counter (OTC) stimulant medication for occasional use. Over 80% of the US adult population consumes caffeine daily, thus making it one of the most popular drugs. Annual consumption is estimated to be well over 100,000 tons. Caffeine is a common ingredient in coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate products. It is also present in many prescription as well as OTC medications, including headache and cold remedies; menstrual pain relief medications, diet and weight reduction products, and stimulant formulations.

Unfortunately, misinformation regarding the drug has persisted since the beginning of its discovery. Everyone seems to be consumed by the fallacies about the stimulant. "When it comes to caffeine use as a food and beverage ingredient and as as a flavoring agent, that ignorance is multiplied many time over" (said a Coca-Cola Company official). This publication attempts to lay to rest much, if not all, of that misinformation with facts and evidence from well-conducted human and animal subjects trials.

Caffeine FAQ

The Essence of Commodification: Caffeine dependencies in the early modern world Journal of Social History Winter, 2001, by Ross W. Jamieson

THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF COFFEE GROWERS of Colombia --see also Who is Juan Valdez? ("Juan Valdez was 'born' back in 1959 at the Doyle Dane Bernback ad agency." ..."We don't know who's more stubborn-- Juan Valdez or his mule"), and see anotyher who-is, and Advertising Mascots: Juan Valdez, and The Real Juan Valdez (Barry Mehler: "Among the most disturbing advertisements on television, are the Juan Valdez coffee commercials. When I first met Juan Valdez he was personally examining every bean before he picked it, just to make sure that my morning coffee was perfect..."). Eleven Things I Hate About Juan Valdez, And His Stinky Mule ...but Colombia honors coffee symbol Juan Valdez on 40th Birthday ...and Adios, Juan Valdez ... And Juan Valdez coffee shops to go global in 2004

The stores, which will bear the name and logo of Colombia's famous fictional farmer, are part of the Federation's drive to conquer a larger profit share in today's competitive global coffee market by selling the drink directly to consumers.

"Our great challenge is to open in 2004 the first 10 Juan Valdez stores abroad, beginning with one store in Panama City (Panama) in the first weeks of January and then a second store in the Federation's office in the heart of New York City," Federation General Manager Gabriel Silva told reporters.

Vietnamese coffee increase (from Le Viêt Nam, aujourd'hui). And VIETNAMESE COFFEE FAD DAWNS AT EXPENSE OF HAS-BEANS (from Asahi Shimbun)

Haitian Bleu Java Tries to Find Niche With U.S.


The Haitian Coffee Story
Published in BCE Issue No. 1, May 26, 2000

Most people do not associate Haiti with coffee. This is not all surprising considering the proliferation of coffees now available for the avid coffee drinker. It is also not surprising considering the unfortunate fact that Haiti has pretty much fallen off the radar screen of many Americans. Given a map of the world, how quickly could you identify Haiti's location? I pose this question not as a conflated challenge, but as the sad reality faced by many of the third-world coffee producing countries in the world. Unfortunately, many coffee consumers suffer naiveté when it comes to the countries of origin of their favorite brew. In the following weeks, I will be discussing several aspects of Haiti and its coffee including my first hand experiences of one of the coffee producing areas in southern Haiti. This week the focus is on a brief history and background of coffee in Haiti.

So, you may ask, what does Haiti have to do with coffee? I would say that in the present market, Haiti has very little impact; perhaps no impact at all. It was with surprise that I recently read that Haiti once garnished [sic!]half of the world's coffee production. The French first planted coffee in Haiti early in the 18th century. By 1791, Haiti ruled the world as the leading coffee producer, an enterprise that required approximately 30,000 African slaves every year to be "imported" to work on the plantations. When you finally find Haiti on that map of yours, you will marvel that a country so small could have produced so much coffee. Even though consumption in the 18th C. is hardly as it is today, it is still amazing that there was any land left in Haiti for any other crops or livestock.

The story behind the demise of Haiti's coffee industry reads like a summer blockbuster movie. The slaves, mistreated, abused and over-worked did the impossible in 1793; they collectively overthrew the French and successfully became the only nation in the West where a slave revolt ended with the withdrawal of the landowners. A Haitian Priest friend of mine explained that because the slaves had little to no experience in running a country, Haiti soon fell into chaos. As in other cases where social unrest is the rule, most of the Haitian industries that had been managed by the French quickly became demised. Haitian coffee had been primarily funneled through France and now the victorious Haitians had no one to buy their precious beans. As the new leaders of the country focused their energies on establishing peace and starting along the hard road of independence, the coffee industry began to shrink. A Haitian coffee "speculator" (i.e. broker) recently told me that coffee production never fully recovered from the post-revolution slump. There are obviously many other factors associated with the depleted coffee industry but most them are rooted in the circumstances following the revolution (some of the other factors will be discussed in later articles). Lyndon Shakespeare

14 March
cache of "Overview of the Coffee Sector in Timor Leste" (2003), grabbed from Google (the link being dead)

Reading Peter Hitchcock's "Joe: the architectonic of a commodity" (a chapter in his Imaginary States: Studies in Cultural Transnationalism [HM621 .H58 2003]), which has both semi-baffling bits of postmodernist obscurantism ("Yet the mystery of the commodity has been compounded by globalization's false narrative of integration in the modern epoch such that incomprehensible objecthood has become so matter-of-fact as to make the commodity's opacity a deadening quotidian translucence..." [153] --which I can almost convince myself means something...) and startling insight into aspects of coffee-writ-large:

Slavery may be gone, but the incidences of forced labor and "payment in kind" in the coffee industry are of such a scale as to make it one of the world's most exploitative businesses... (171)

It is a marvel of the liberal imagination that it believes the transnational to be a problem of tinkering here and there with certification (of organic farm production, "Please no Pesticides") or a "liveable" wage that eases the conscience and arrogance of its own divine surpluses. (175)

Call me Starbucks. The basic idea behind Starbucks is very simple. Make lifestyle coffee consumption more upscale and you can offset the deleterious effcts of all that big-gulp soda guzzling... the specialty coffee company is a prime model of contemparary American capitalism --that which takes a consumption or lifestyle aesthetic and welds it to specific modes of surplus value extraction... like Nike, Starbucks has concentrated its efforts on branding, since you cannot get someone to part with four dollars athat takes just a few cents to produce without an association beyon simply money... Tailor the product to local consumer "tastes" while maintaining a flat or branded stor feel. Result: Consumers will shell out extra money because the coffee costs more, not because it actually costs more to produce (just as Nike's top-of-the-line Air Max costs about the same to produce as its entry-level models)... (178)

15 March
A set from Annie:

AUTHOR       Allen, Stewart Lee.
TITLE        The devil's cup : a history of the world according to coffee 
IMPRINT      New York : Ballantine Books, 2003, c1999.
CALL NO.     TX415 .A454 2003.

AUTHOR       Font, Maurício.
TITLE        Coffee, contention, and change in the making of modern Brazil 
IMPRINT      Cambridge, Mass., USA : B. Blackwell, 1990.
CALL NO.     HD9199.B8 S217 1990.

AUTHOR       Lucier, Richard L.
TITLE        The international political economy of coffee : from Juan Valdez 
               to Yank's Diner / Richard L. Lucier.
IMPRINT      New York : Praeger, 1988.
CALL NO.     HD9199.A2 L84 1988.

AUTHOR       Williams, Robert G. (Robert Gregory), 1948-
TITLE        States and social evolution : coffee and the rise of national 
               governments in Central America / Robert G. Williams.
IMPRINT      Chapel Hill, [N.C.] : University of North Carolina Press, c1994.
CALL NO.     HD9199.C42 W54 1994.

AUTHOR       Paige, Jeffery M.
TITLE        Coffee and power : revolution and the rise of democracy in 
               Central America / Jeffery M. Paige.
IMPRINT      Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1997.
CALL NO.     HD9199.C82 P35 1997.

AUTHOR       Pendergrast, Mark.
TITLE        Uncommon grounds : the history of coffee and how it transformed our world 
IMPRINT      New York, NY : Basic Books, c1999.
CALL NO.     TX415 .P46 1999.

AUTHOR       Ukers, William H. (William Harrison), 1873-1945.
TITLE        All about coffee, by William H. Ukers, M.A.
IMPRINT      New York, The Tea and coffee trade journal company, 1935.
CALL NO.     TX415 .U5 1935.

22 March
Searching for maps of coffee areas in Mexico, I stumbled on National Geographic's Coffee pages

another anecdote, with the puinchline "Our product is worth nothing here in the countryside, but in the cities it has value," he said. "They buy it from us at giveaway prices and those who are getting rich are the ones who sell it there."

Mexican Coffee By: Concepción Peralta

Starbucks Coffee in Mexico, a new controversy La Jornada, August 24/2002 JIM CANSON AND DAVID BROOKS

Coffee crisis sends Mexico producers to death in Arizona Dow Jones Newswires May 29, 2001 By Maja Wallengren

Organic Coffee Growing in Mexico by Ellen Contreras Murphy November 1995

ETHIOPIA: low coffee prices lead to khat upsurge

International Coffee Organization d documents

Impact of the Coffee Crisis (Ted Lingle)

The Global Coffee Crisis: White Paper (and see coffee blog

gmcr is not the enemy; the mermaid is not the enemy. i must remind my friends that our enemy is the big four: kraft, sara lee, nestle, p&g, those who blend subpar coffee-by-products and robusta in the supermarket cans!
11 April
map of Mexican coffee production areas from González Zapotec Science

Barzil coffee areas

13 April
Small coffee brewers try to redefine fair trade By Tim Rogers (Christian Science Monitor)

Fair-trade coffee - beans purchased from small farmers outside the US at well above the slumping market price - is hot in the java world: The amount of fair-trade coffee sold in the US nearly doubled last year.

But as the movement has expanded in recent years to include such brands as Starbucks, Green Mountain, Procter & Gamble, and Dunkin' Donuts, dissension is percolating among some smaller roasters. They claim that the large firms, which buy only a small percentage of fair-trade beans, are turning it into a marketing ploy rather than an effort to help farmers.

Now a move is underfoot to create a new model where smaller brewers purchasing 100 percent fair-trade coffee hope to distinguish themselves as the real deal among fair traders. The rift demonstrates how some small companies feel cheated by larger corporations for infringing on their market niche, even when all parties involved insist they are working toward the same goal.

See also Coming to the grocery shelf: fair-trade food

More Fun with Coffee from the Regrettable Food Archives

16 April
I'm putting together a new summary of coffee stuff...