Spilling Sufi monasteries of Yemen. The firstSpilling Sufi monasteries of Yemen. The first

Spilling the Beans on the Coffee Supply Chain. Coffee has been a popular drink for centuries, yet supply chain challenges fragmented production, commodity market instability, climate change continue to brew.The native origin of coffee is thought to have been Ethiopia. The earliest substantiated evidence of either coffee drinking or knowledge of the coffee tree is from the 15th century, in the Sufi monasteries of Yemen. The first ever Arabica coffee bean plant was discovered in Ethiopia, which is where half of the world’s coffee production comes from. Whether it’s Arabica or Robusta, a coffee cherry generally looks the same but the vary in size.The average Arabica plant is a large bush with dark-green oval leaves. The fruits, or cherries, are rounded and mature in 7 to 9 months; they usually contain two flat seeds, the coffee beans. When only one bean develops it is called a peaberry. Robusta is a robust shrub or small tree that grows up to 10 metres high. The fruits are rounded and take up to 11 months to mature; the seeds are oval in shape and smaller than Arabica seeds.Ideal average temperatures range between 15 to 24ºC for Arabica coffee and 24 to 30ºC for Robusta, which can flourish in hotter, harsher conditions. Coffee needs an annual rainfall of 1500 to 3000 mm, with Arabica needing less than other species. Whereas Robusta coffee can be grown between sea-level and about 800 metres, Arabica does best at higher altitudes and is often grown in hilly areas..As coffee is often grown in mountainous areas, widespread use of mechanical harvesters is not possible and the ripe coffee cherries are usually picked by hand. The main exception is Brazil, where the relatively flat landscape and immense size of the coffee fields allow for machinery use. Coffee trees yield an average of 2 to 4 kilos of cherries and a good picker can harvest 45 to 90 kilos of coffee cherry per day; this will produce nine to 18 kilos of coffee beans. Coffee is harvested in one of two ways, Strip Picked is all the cherries are stripped off of the branch at one time, either by machine or by hand. Selectively Picked is only the ripe cherries are harvested and they are picked by hand. Pickers check the trees every 8 to 10 days and individually pick only the fully ripe cherries. This method is labour intensive and more costly. Selective picking is primarily used for the finer Arabica beans.The supply chain process of coffee beans typically contains seven levels which are growing, harvesting, hulling, drying and packing, bulking, blending and roasting. The entire supply chain is further extended by several intermediaries, including global transporters as well as exporters and retailers.Coffee is produced in more than fifty developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia and it is an important source of income for 20-25 million families worldwide. The initial production of coffee beans including farming, collecting, and processing is labor intensive and as a result is performed in more labor abundant developing countries. The roasting and branding of coffee is more capital intensive and therefore is situated in northern industrialized countries. The top five coffee consumers are United States of America, Brazil, Germany, Japan, and France.Cultivation The coffee cultivation process begins with a coffee cherry. Coffee cherries are differentiated by type and natural conditions such as altitude, latitude, and volcanic soil. A coffee plant usually starts to produce flowers 3–4 years after it is planted, and it is from these flowers that coffee cherries appear, with the first useful harvest possible around 5 years after planting. Cherries typically ripen and are harvested around eight months after the emergence of the flower. In most countries, coffee cherries are picked by hand which is a very labor intensive and difficult process. After about twenty years the coffee tree’s productivity diminishes, however with correct handling trees can bear cherries for more than fifty years. There are two types of coffee beans: Robusta and Arabica. Robusta coffee has a harsher taste, twice the caffeine content, can be grown at sea level, and is more resistant to pests and diseases than Arabica. Arabica coffee is known for its higher quality, but can only be produced in warmer temperate zones or in highlands of tropical zones and has a shorter ripening period of about six months 2. The inputs needed to maximize the coffee cultivation process are fertilizer and pesticides. The outputs from coffee cultivation are emissions including nitrogen, phosphorous, and pesticide 3.ProcessingOnce coffee berries are collected they are then transported to processing mills. Cost for transportation from the field to the mill can be significant depending on the distance between the farm and the producing mill. Once the berries arrive at the mill they are processed, sorted, and graded by size, weight, and form. Processing of coffee is the method of converting the raw fruit of the coffee cherry into the green (dried) coffee beans. There are two processing methods: wet and dry process. The wet process requires a lot of effort, time, water, and therefore money. The coffee cherries are sorted by immersion in water; bad or unripe cherries float and the good ripe cherries sink. The ripe cherries are then machine cleaned by pressing the fruit in water through a screen. Lastly, the beans are dried either by the sun or by machines. The dry process involves sorting and cleaning cherries by hand and then placing them in the sun to dry naturally or using a machine to speed up the drying process. This is very common on small or medium plantations and in regions where temperatures are warmer and supplies of clean, fresh, water are not plentiful 2. Inputs needed for the processing phase are the coffee cherries, water (for the wet processing method), and fuel oil for machine drying. The output of the processing phase are green (dried) coffee beans and solid waste including the outer hull, dust, and scraps from cleaning the cherries which are typically disposed 3. The green beans are then classified, graded, and exported to the consuming country for roasting and packaging.PeopleIn most coffee producing countries harvesting and processing laborers work under extremely poor conditions. On the farms, coffee laborers are involved with every aspect of the growing/harvesting process. They are involved in weeding, spraying, picking and weighing the coffee berries. In so doing, they are at risk of being poisoned by pesticides, bitten by snakes or insects and injured by cutting tools and branches. In the factories, they are at risk of being injured from contact with machinery, contracting respiratory diseases due to exposure to coffee dust, and suffering impairment or lost of hearing due to noisy machinery. All of these issues can be avoided if the workers are given protective gears, such as plastic coats, boots, gloves, hats, and masks. Yet, they are seldom offered such protective gear. A coffee worker’s wage is extremely low and as a result they live below the poverty line. There is also discrimination against women as they have to work the same hours as men, but they earn less than men. Lastly, child labor is a prevalent problem in the coffee industry. In Kenya children make up 60% of the coffee workforce and in Honduras children make up 40% of the workforce 4.ProfitThe supply of coffee generally trends towards overproduction, which results steep falls of demand and price. Between 1999 and 2004, the decline of coffee prices to fell to a 30 year low which started what is known as the Coffee Crisis. Since this time prices paid to coffee farmers have fallen below the cost it takes them to produce it. In the past ten years, coffee producing nations have seen their profits fall from 1/3 of the total revenue to about 1/10 of the total revenue. While wholesalers and retailers continue to sell at a profit, the dollars lost in the drop in profit has been borne almost entirely by the farmer 4.GovernanceOversupply issues and the Coffee Crisis can be linked to the policies of multinational financial institutions, The World Bank and IMF, offered advice or loans to help low income countries to produce more coffee for export. These organizations encouraged poor coffee producing countries to liberalize trade and follow growth led by export. This leniency helped transform the coffee market from a managed market, in which governments played an active role both nationally and internationally, to a total free-market system. In this free-market system, the market itself sets the price of coffee. This has led to setting prices without regard to the cost for farmers. As mentioned above, the overproduction of coffee being dumped on the market has created a buyers’ market. As a result, many of the poorest and most helpless citizens in the world are left to negotiate in an open market with som