About 400 industry members attended the 93rd annual National Coffee Association Convention in California in March. Most conspicuous were the numerous NGO and coffee organizations banding together to apply sustainable strategies for the producer nations. Successful programs and excellent progress was reported from groups including Rainforest Alliance, Coffee Quality Institute, and Chemonics.
Canadian coffee consumption grew an outstanding 4.5% in the last five years, said Sandy McAlpine, of the Canadian Coffee Association at the conference. Two-thirds of Canadian workers buy their coffee outside of the office versus the U.S. at one-third (Is this an office coffee service opportunity or a coffeehouse opportunity?).
Is your widower father-in-law depressed like, mine is? Give him coffee. Eileen Madden of Nestle told NCA attendees that the many benefits of coffee consumption include the fact that it improves depression. Now that Dad is homebound, he’s not drinking his daily dose of Dunkin’ Donuts - so from now on we will bring it to him (luckily he lives 4 blocks from us).
The NCA always endeavors to offer the producers’ perspective, both large and small, to its attendees. Linneu Carlos da Costa Lima of Brazil told us the country intends to upgrade quality and increase consumption by 2006. Henry Ngabirano reported that Uganda produces 3.5-4 million bags annually with an Arabica-Robusta ratio of 1:9. Kenneth Davids revealed all the nuances of the Indian bean, complete with a cupping.
Julie Barrett O’Brien of Woodlief International spoke on traceability in the coffee sector: from farm to market. With today’s mad cow disease threat and other food safety issues, companies are becoming more liable and thus taking more responsibility in tracing a product’s ingredient history. She modeled several important plans for the coffee industry, admitting that they are not easy and not free.
John Gilmore of Datamonitor, a research firm, confirmed that consumers’ willingness to pay for a premium out-of-home coffee experience is helping to drive sales growth. Consumers want an overall satisfying experience at their coffeehouse including great service, atmosphere and product - not just a caffeine delivery service.
Some personal observations on that topic: coffeehouse settings appeal to all age groups and provide alternate sites for business discussions. My husband recently inked a new deal with some fellow doctors. They didn’t go out to dinner, didn’t meet in the office…they chose a convenient Starbucks. (Husband ordered tea.) My 14 year-old daughter, Katie, went to Starbucks in our town last Friday night after bowling with friends. Two 16-year-old boys “hit on” her. She and her friends think it the coolest place to go. Katie ordered a tall peppermint hot chocolate. Her friend’s 16-year old brother ordered a double-shot espresso. What a wonderful future for coffeehouses.
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