The Coffee Barometer Report: A roaster’s guide

Esther Gibbs
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September 22, 2023
The 2023 Coffee Barometer Report, specialty coffee roasters, specialty coffee supply chain, sustainability in specialty coffee

Esther-Hope Gibbs is an Authorised Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Trainer for the Sensory Skills programme, and a certified Arabica Q Grader. She is also the owner and head roaster at Hope Espresso. In this article, she breaks down the 2023 Coffee Barometer Report so that specialty coffee roasters can gain a better understanding.  

The recently published 2023 Coffee Barometer Report aims to investigate and report on the current discourses surrounding sustainability in the coffee industry. In particular, green coffee pricing. The report is initiated by Conservation International and Solidaridad, and produced by Ethos Agriculture

Conservation International has been working to protect the natural environments that communities rely on for their livelihoods, food, and fresh water. A strong focus has been on coffee and, since 2015, the organisation has been working on the Sustainable Coffee Challenge

International organisation Solidaridad is also working on a global coffee programme. It works with producers on the ground and all other stakeholders within the coffee industry. Ethos Agriculture is a team of coffee and supply chain experts that specialises in design, research and partnership building.

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What is the Coffee Barometer Report?

The 60-page report covers all aspects of sustainable coffee. It aims to ensure long-term viability while highlighting the importance of short-term economic gain at a farm level. 

While global coffee consumption continues to rise, the industry itself is still largely focused on low-cost trading. This can be detrimental to international sustainability and climate agendas. “An estimated 12.5 million coffee farmers in around 70 countries produce coffee, with 85% of the coffee produced coming from 5 countries alone,” Esther explains. 

“The other 15% is produced by 9.6 million farmers. These coffee producers are under increasing pressure as their revenue decreases in tandem with input costs increasing.” 

Coffee communities such as these are the most economically vulnerable. More so, they often lack access to resources to meet sustainability measures or find additional income streams. 

The Coffee Barometer Report also touches on how certified coffee, such as Fairtrade and Organic, lack growth within their market share. This is despite the fact that more consumers are aware of the social and environmental issues in the specialty coffee supply chain. 

Additionally, the report indicates a plateau in the growth of the certified coffee market, with larger roasters decreasing in their volumes. Some of this is due to information gaps and higher prices. Beyond this, the report highlights how Voluntary Sustainability Standards are essential to improving transparency and encouraging sustainable consumption within the coffee industry. 

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Ensuring sustainability along the specialty coffee supply chain

The future of sustainability in specialty coffee requires action that extends further than farm practices. 

“The Coffee Barometer Report challenges us to acknowledge the problems within the coffee value chain,” Esther explains. “It also encourages businesses to reflect on their positions as sustainability pioneers in an honest manner.”

Several coffee businesses use marketing to demonstrate their ‘positive actions.’ In reality, however, many are not serving the purpose presented. “More so, they’re not working in harmony with other business operations, and do not actually benefit the small-scale farmers as suggested.”

Many of the good-will strategies that come from roasters are undetailed, unmeasurable, or have a time scale. There is also a lack of investments in time, resources, and finances needed to create effective strategies with accurate reporting systems. Factors like these could help businesses track the success of their intentions, making their actions considerably less impactful. 

“A lack of transparency in communication across the industry continues to create barriers to effective solutions,” Esther believes. 

The Coffee Barometer Report further highlights how multi-stakeholder initiatives for promoting sustainability have not progressed in an expected manner. While there are platforms for companies to sign up and present their commitment to change, there are no binding commitments, agreements, or resources to present actual results.

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What can specialty coffee roasters take away from the report? 

It’s important to note that positive change has come in policy making. “This gives us hope for some established, uncompromising change with legislation, which will regulate agricultural value chains,” says Esther. 

This will change how coffee is produced, traded, and consumed. The EU Deforestation Regulation ensures major companies that trade with agricultural commodities do not contribute to deforestation. This shows that assertive measures with material consequences to ensure practices are driving environmental and ethical change.

“The 2023 Coffee Barometer Report is an essential read for all specialty coffee roasters to fully understand the implications of the future of coffee and how it is currently traded,” Esther says. 

The report provides in-depth reviews of how coffee is traded and what the commodity price is. It also gives coffee roasters a brew index and case studies on the impact of some of the largest coffee roasters in the world.

“Beyond this, it provides coffee brands with an opportunity to reflect on their own business practices and the impact they can have on the future of coffee.”

As suppliers of sustainable packaging solutions, we at MTPak Coffee understand the importance of eco-friendly and ethical practices across the specialty coffee supply chain. We strive to help brands reduce their impact on the environment by offering recyclable and compostable coffee packaging options. 

We can work with you to make outstanding packaging that has minimal impact on the environment and can help you towards your sustainability goals. From takeaway coffee cups, bags, and subscription mailers, we offer a variety of packaging solutions that support a sustainable future in coffee. 

We offer a complete range of coffee pouches and bags, takeaway cups, and custom coffee boxes in a variety of sizes. Our range of 100% recyclable coffee packaging options is made from renewable materials such as kraft paper, rice paper, or multilayer LDPE packaging with an environmentally friendly PLA lining

Beyond this, our Education Centre provides specialty coffee roasters and coffee businesses with up-to-date information on trends within the sector. More so, it covers the latest in coffee packaging and sustainable packaging. 

For more information on sustainable coffee packaging, or our SCA membership, contact our team.

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Esther Gibbs
Esther Gibbs

Esther has been in the specialty coffee industry for 14 years working as a Q Grader, SCA Trainer and ESTA trainer. She’s also offers her services as a coffee consultant through Hope Espresso. Her passion for writing comes from her love of sharing stories about the industry and ensuring knowledge is accessible to all.

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