5 Things You May Not Know About Coffee

Alexis St. Firmin, president of the Sainte Helene coffee cooperative, poses with coffee beans at the Sainte Helene coffee cooperative in Carice, Haiti. (Photo by Allison Shelley for LWR)

 

An estimated 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 consume coffee on a daily basis. We are so passionate about it we’ve even fashioned a whole dialect around ordering it from coffeehouses.

1. The United States is not the largest importer of coffee

While coffee is the largest food import in the U.S., we aren’t the largest coffee importer. The European Union imports almost twice as much coffee as the U.S.

Both are projected to see an increase in coffee imports in 2015, with estimates that the EU will import 46.5 million bags and the U.S. 26 million.

2. Coffee is highly profitable… just not for most coffee farmers

According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), the U.S. coffee alone is worth an $48 billion. However, most smallholder coffee farmers only see an estimated 10 percent of the final retail cost of their coffee.

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That’s why LWR works with coffee farmers and their cooperatives to get involved in more steps of the “agriculture value chain” — all the steps of making coffee from crop to cup. The more steps in the agriculture value chain that coffee producers are involved in, the more they can make from their crops.

3. Coffee begins as a cherry, NOT A BEAN!

The Wotea family stands in front of their house in Bududa District, Uganda. As members of LWR-supported Gumutindo Coffee Cooperative, the family has been assisted with agricultural training and market access. Photo by Jake Lyell for Lutheran World Relief.

 

Actually, to be fair, it begins as a flower, which eventually leaves behind dark green coffee cherries. As the cherries ripen they turn from green to yellow and, eventually — at full ripeness — a rich red. After picking and drying the coffee cherries, the outer layers are removed (a process called pulping), freeing the coffee beans inside.

Good quality coffee starts with good quality coffee trees. A coffee tree can take several years to yield cherries. LWR helps smallholder coffee farmers plant new trees, grow other crops for alternative income and to provide necessary coffee tree shade, and to process their coffee to yield good quality, valuable coffee beans.

4. Many coffee farmers drink a lesser quality of coffee than they grow.

In many coffee growing regions, coffee farmers sell their high quality beans and make do on lesser quality — often instant, freeze-dried — coffee for their own consumption.

5. Healthy farming communities = MORE and BETTER coffee

Gustavo
Gustavo Talavera with his 10 year-old granddaughter Maryering on their farm in Nicaragua.

 

A healthy farming community goes beyond growing good crops. It’s about farmers who have the tools and knowledge to plant, grow and harvest good quality coffee. It’s good market information so that cooperatives can sell that coffee for the best possible price. And it’s about finding a place for young people in coffee farming communities to carry on the legacies left by their family before them.

With your support, you help build healthy farming communities — productive farming communities support farmers and their families while keeping our cups full to the brim with delicious coffee. Win-win!

You can help. Buy LWR Farmer’s Market Coffee!

Buy LWR Coffee

This special line of coffee is sourced directly from farmers working with LWR projects. Your purchase ensures farmers are paid a strong up-front price for their beans, and share in the profits after the coffee is sold.

If you love coffee, show love to coffee farmers – and treat yourself to a bag of delicious LWR Farmers Market Coffee today!

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