Business World

Observations for 2004

Baristas - More and more contests are going on around the world, and are growing in size and attendance. Latte Art competitions, Coffee Pouring Contests, and Barista tournaments in the U.S., Europe, Asia have each proven to be a hit with baristas and draw large, enthusiastic audiences. But is the barista’s livelihood in jeopardy as semi-automatics and automatics become more popular? Starbucks, which herald the baristas’ charms and talents have begun replacing them with automatic espresso machines. Irate fans don’t want to pay $5.00 for an espresso or latte from a machine…they want a performance.

Coffee Price Crisis - Oh, didn’t you hear? It’s gone. We are past the crisis, as it was stated at a recent coffee symposium. Farmers are still getting low prices, they are still unable to support their family. . . but now it’s accepted that while things are not as good as in the 90’s, they’re at least better. And countries are still increasing production. Bring it on! I give up.

Retail Expansion - More and more knowledgeable people are opening up tea and coffee retail shops, They’re educated, have done their research and love and honor the beverage. Asia is a goldmine! Coffee shops are springing up all over and the entrepreneurs are starving for information. Our Tea & Coffee World Cup in Singapore was an enormous success with standing room only class attendance.

Government Assistance - It’s really great that NGOs and government agencies are helping coffee growers. Importers tell me they’re losing business as customers are turning to the NGO network to sell their coffee and are bypassing the middlemen. U.S. importers are mystified that they are paying taxes to a government that is taking away some of their business.

Competitions - Cup of Excellence continues to shine and break more and more price barriers. Here’s a program that benefits the farmer, the importer and the roaster. The competition is expanding to include more and more countries. Kudos to George Howell and Susie Spindler for their foresight and success.

Science Experiment - My daughter, Katie, is beginning her first high school science research project. She and classmates will be conducting tests on growing plants with coffee. Any data that anyone can help me (her)(us) with would be greatly appreciated. Let’s get my future coffee botanist an A+! Please email me at: teacof@aol.com.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year.

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher

Tea & Coffee - December/January, 2005

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