Sustainability Webinar: Coffee Prices and Farm Profitability

Update: Thanks to all who joined us for this second webinar in our Sustainability series on Farm Profitability and Prosperity recorded live on Tuesday, September 25th, at 8:00am PST / 4:00pm BST. Watch the recording above.

Over the summer we have watched the coffee commodity futures market drop until on Tuesday, August 21, coffee opened at 98 US cents. This is well under production costs for most coffee farmers and raises questions about the sustainability of coffee in the future.

For more information you can watch to the first webinar on Farm Profitability, listen to this podcast, or read this report.

A panel of industry leaders will continue the conversation in light of the latest developments to tackle difficult questions related to the profitability of coffee farming. Do increased yields consistently correlate to profitability on coffee farms? Do price premiums for coffee taste quality justify farmer investments? What strategies are producers and buyers using to address farm profitability? What research and data is needed to support farmers and their businesses? Learn about our moderator and panelists below.

Moderator: Ashley Prentice

Ashley Prentice is a 3rd generation coffee producer from Guatemala. She has a degree in Business Administration and a Masters in Coffee Science and Economics. She is a licensed Q Grader and Q Processor. Ashley formerly worked with USAID’S Rural Value Chains Project assisting farmers with business strategies to access new and differentiated markets. She also leads the National Coffee Association of Guatemala, Anacafe’s sustainability committee supporting different projects and sustainability initiatives. She is the founder of Gento Coffee a social enterprise focused on promoting value added activities at origin to increase farmer profitability, encourage sustainable business models, and advance transparency in the coffee value chain. Ashley is an active volunteer of the SCA Sustainability Center working specifically in creating awareness of critical topics like farmer profitability.

Panelist: Janina Grabs

Janina Grabs is a final-stage PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Münster, Germany, and a current Visiting Assistant in Research at Yale University. Her research, undertaken in the junior researcher group TRANSSUSTAIN, focuses on the effectiveness of sustainability governance in international value chains. In particular, she studies the options of states, firms, NGOs and other actors to improve the environmental and social sustainability of commodity production, with a special focus on coffee. She holds a BA in Political Science from McGill University and an MSc in Agricultural and Food Economics from Bonn University. Before returning to academia, she worked for the European Commission’s DG AGRI and the German development cooperation GIZ. She is passionate about transdisciplinary research and working on the science-policy interface. In this function, she consults the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems, co-chairs the EKLIPSE Expert Working Group on Business and Biodiversity, and engages with actors in the coffee sector in their quest for sustainability.

Panelist: Herbert Peñaloza Correa

Herbert Peñaloza Correa is the founder and Director of Quality of 575 Cafe. He has a degree in business management and worked for years as a photographer which eventually introduced him to coffee farming. At 575 Cafe he manages the entire value chain from farming through the production process. His field work has been focused on the dynamics between labour and environmental supply to the production of specialty coffee as well as the impact of those methodologies on certain communities with more traditional processing techniques. Herbert’s in-farm research largely revolves around the fertilization-fermentation-drying relationship, as essential variables for the production of complex coffees and different attributes in cup. He has studied how the behaviour of different types of green beans changes through the dry-milling, storing and roasting process itself, correlating his research with final cup attributes. Since 2017, he has been the leading farmer of the export/import collective La Real Expedicion Botanica, which connects local coffee producers in Colombia with roasters in Europe and the USA.

Panelist: Ed Canty

Ed Canty is the General manager of Cooperative Coffees. His coffee career began two decades ago in a Portland, Maine coffee shop where he learned the craft of roasting and the pleasure of customer service. This led him to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ cupping lab in Waterbury, Vermont. His interest in coffee quality and growing communities started a 15 year career as Green Mountain’s Fair Trade and Organic coffee buyer; before joining on with Cooperative Coffees in 2015. He values transparency, principled negotiations, intelligent system design, and innovative and regenerative agricultural practices that improve quality and producer livelihood through trade. Ed also serves on the Food 4 Farmers board of directors.