Coffee News Club: Week of March 11th

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Drumroll, please! And the Oscar goes to: whichever film features more coffee? Plus, SCA makes major membership changes, and Indonesia and Vietnam import more coffee than ever. 

‘The Specialty Coffee Association Announces Major Changes To Membership Model’ – via Sprudge

The Specialty Coffee Association, the primary trade association within the specialty coffee industry, is overhauling its membership model. According to a press release, the new model “will focus on providing value and connectivity to the growing international community, enhanced features for companies, and new pricing structure.”

The old SCA model divided membership into different levels and gave out different benefits based on size (if you enrolled as a company) and job title (if you enrolled as an individual). The new model, which the SCA hopes to implement in late 2024, offers fewer options with more benefits. Previously, companies could offer employees different individual memberships based on their tier; now, they will “be able to connect all staff to its account and provide custom education pathways across SCA programs.”

Individual memberships were once split into Barista, Roaster, Technician, and Professional memberships; now, there are just two tiers. There is a free basic level “for individuals interested in participating in SCA events, education, and competitions, and for those seeking access to resources, standards, or Guild selection.” The other tier, which costs $100 annually, “will give members voting eligibility and additional promotional benefits.”

“Whether they’re new members, individuals about to join or long-standing members, we’re working to make sure they experience all the benefits of the new model, including the features of the professional or company tier,” SCA director Yannis Apostolopoulos told Sprudge. Apostolopoulos said that the SCA hopes to go from just under 8,000 companies and individual memberships to “hundreds of thousands by the end of the year.”

Read the full story here.

‘Coffee Craze at Home Transforms Big Asian Exporters Into Buyers’ – via Bloomberg

Indonesia and Vietnam are two of the largest coffee growers and exporters. Despite that, both countries have been importing coffee from Brazil as local consumption grows.

According to Bloomberg, exporters based in Indonesia and Vietnam prefer to ship out coffee grown in each country because they can fetch a higher price internationally—and import cheaper Brazilian beans for the local market. Consumption in Indonesia grew 4% yearly over the past decade, and shipments from Brazil to Indonesia more than doubled last year. Neumann Kaffee Gruppe—the world’s largest coffee trader—has opened an importing office in Indonesia to take advantage of growing consumption trends.

In Vietnam, meanwhile, shipments from Brazil have increased “more than sixfold” in the twelve months to January 2024. “The potential for growth is still very large, especially because consumption per capita is lower than in other parts of the world,” said Márcio Ferreira, chairman of the Brazilian exporters group Cecafe.

This increase in consumption comes as drought and erratic weather, brought by El Niño and fueled by climate change, impact coffee production in Southeast Asia.

Read the full story here or via Fortune here.

‘UK Independent Coffee Shops Trading Strongly on Quality and Authenticity’ – via World Coffee Portal

Despite an ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the United Kingdom’s independent coffee shops “weather[ed] economic headwinds to post steady growth.”

According to new research from World Coffee Portal, the UK’s independent coffee shops saw sales increase by 4% over the last twelve months. Over the same period, the number of non-chain outlets grew by 2.2%, reaching 12,212 stores throughout the country despite rising living costs and lower consumer spending. World Coffee Portal “forecasts the market will surpass 12,400 outlets across the next 12 months and achieve 4.1% sales growth to reach $4.8bn in 2025.”

World Coffee Portal says the key to independent cafes attracting and keeping customers in the face of competition from chains includes “beverage quality, personalized service, authenticity and localness.” However, specialty is not necessarily a driver of its own: the report notes that “while industry leaders view specialty coffee as a key indicator of a higher-quality coffee shop, the importance of specialty among UK coffee consumers surveyed by World Coffee Portal has fallen year-on-year.”

Read the full story here.

‘Brewing Success: Can Coffee Help you Predict Oscar Winners?’ – via Euro News

Gaze into your crystal cortado glass—it’s time to predict the winner of this year’s Oscars using coffee.

Storible, a digital PR firm, published a study that claims to be able to predict the winner of the 2024 Best Picture. They came up with their prediction by tracking the number of scenes featuring coffee. The ideal number, they say, is eight, and each scene featuring coffee increases a film’s chance of winning by 26.52%.

For this year, Storible’s research suggests that the Best Picture Oscar will go to ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’ That’s because Martin Scorcese’s epic western crime drama features six coffee appearances, the most of any film nominated for the top prize. ‘Poor Things’ and ‘American Fiction trail with four; ‘The Zone of Interest’ has three, while ‘Anatomy of a Fall,’ ‘The Holdovers,’ ‘Maestro,’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ have two.

The study’s robust methodology involved comparing data from productplacementblog.com with data on Oscar winners from IMDb, focusing on movies made between 2002 and 2022. “This information was then used to calculate the impact of coffee on a film’s chances of winning an Oscar and predict the Best Picture winner for this year,” according to the study on Cafely’s website.

Storible also presented data on past winners. Coffee appeared in 33% of Oscar-winning films over the two decades, with 2011 being the high water mark for such scenes: 94% of Oscar winners that year featured coffee in some way. The type of coffee also plays a part: according to Euro News, “a movie can have 20.3% more chances to win an Oscar if it has one more scene featuring Starbucks; brands Folgers and Hilltop are close behind, with 19.3% and 18.1%, respectively.”

Read the full story here.

More News

Honeycomb Credit Offering $2K Grant for Coffee Businesses’ – via Daily Coffee News

JAB Holding Seeks to Raise $2.5bn with Keurig Dr Pepper Share Sale’ – via World Coffee Portal

Dutch Bros Now Fourth-Largest US Coffee Chain‘ – via STiR Coffee & Tea

Starbucks Names 10 New’ Origin Grants’ Totaling Nearly $4 Million‘ – via Daily Coffee News

SCA Announces Finalists for 2024 Sustainability Awards‘ – via Global Coffee Report

New Barista Championship Judge’s Headgear Just Dropped‘ – via Sprudge

Hemro and La Marzocco Launch Hands for Songwa Nonprofit in Tanzania’ – via Daily Coffee News

Bellwether Announces New Smaller Footprint Shop Roaster‘ – via Sprudge

Highlights from the 2024 Roast Summit in Portland, Oregon’ – via Daily Coffee News

Starbucks Middle East Franchisee AlShaya to Cut Over 2,000 Jobs, Sources Say‘ – via Reuters

The Week in Coffee Unionizing

  • The Strategic Organizing Center labor group has withdrawn its director nominations to the Starbucks board after the company committed to negotiating unionized contracts with Workers United. The coalition of labor unions said it was “time to acknowledge the progress that has been made and to allow the company and its workers to focus on moving forward.” The SOC had nominated three candidates for election to Starbucks’ board in November 2023 to add “fresh perspectives and the right expertise” to a board whose “current approach likely jeopardizes its ability to fulfill its fiduciary duties to investors and has resulted in arguably one of the most glaring and destructive examples of human capital mismanagement corporate America has seen.”
  • A significant milestone for Starbucks Workers United: workers at a Starbucks in Miami, Florida, voted to unionize, becoming the 400th location to successfully organize.

Is Coffee Good For You?

Understanding coffee’s impact on health can be tricky because many studies rely on self-reported consumption data. The inherent limitations in this sort of data-gathering—people can misremember or misreport their intakes—means that the studies relying on such data are often unreliable.

But what if we could know for sure how much coffee someone consumed rather than relying on them remembering if they had three cups or four this week? Researchers in Germany think they might have an answer, as a new study purports to have located a biomarker—a measurable indicator of some biological state or condition—that can accurately report a subject’s coffee intake.

The study, published in the journal Beverages, analyzed urine, blood, and plasma samples from more than 460 people, zeroing in on N-methylpyridinium as a feasible biomarker. Importantly, N-methylpyridinium is specific to roasted Arabica and Robusta coffee, meaning if it shows up, the person must have consumed coffee.

“As we have shown, N-methylpyridinium fulfills all the criteria that science demands of a biomarker to control food intake,” said Roman Lang from the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich. “Even if we cannot draw direct conclusions about the amount of coffee consumed due to various factors, the roasting substance is still suitable as a marker. This is because it allows us to distinguish objectively and practically between people who have drunk coffee and those who have not.”

Beyond the Headlines

‘What’s Going On in Philly? Talking Union Updates with Malek Hudson of ReAnimator Coffee’ by Ashley Rodriguez

‘Coffee Roasters Searching New Ways To Level Up Fairness In Trade As Ethical Certifications Totter On The Moral High Ground’ by Douglas Yu

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Fionn Pooler

Fionn Pooler is a coffee roaster and freelance writer currently based in the Scottish Highlands who has worked in the specialty coffee industry for over a decade. Since 2016 he has written the Pourover, a newsletter and blog that uses interviews and critical analysis to explore coffee’s place in the wider, changing world (and also yell at corporations).

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