Monday, May 24, 2004


yes! after all this time. . .

long-time readers have patiently endured my rants on the importance of the u.s.a. re-joining the i.c.o. as one step towards ending the world-price depression known as the coffee crisis.

and last week, we did. what was the reason given?

to prevent the growing influence of the narco-economy in latin america. devoted readers may recall that i've been talking about this subject for literally years (and here).

and despite the article written by one of my dearest, dearest coffee friends in tea and coffee recently, this move shows my concern is valid.

readers with elephantine memories will also recall that part of the reason i was so interested in this subject was that with re-joining the i.c.o., the u.s.a. would also improve the import standard for what could be called pure coffee.

that is, the u.s. would supposedly adopt new rules on coffee purity, rules barring the import and sale of low-quality, trash coffee in this country without changing the labelling to say "coffee-by-products."

everyone wants to drink higher-quality, better coffee, don't they? no one wants to drink mere "coffee-by-products."

alas the powers-that-be (i think this means you, robert nelson and the so-called "big four," those multi-nationals responsible for the stuff in the supermarket cans: sara lee, nestle, kraft, p&g!) appear to have vitiated this requirement. and the government pled that it lacked the manpower to enforce stricter standards at this time.

what does this mean for consumers, for the average coffee lover? unfortunately, it means the american consumer is stuck with the current unsatisfactory import quality standard.

a standard that allows way too many blackened, moldy, bug-chewed, defective beans to end up in the coffee americans drink! the present standard allows a whopping 610 of these defects in a sample of green unroasted beans; the proposed i.c.o standard would have reduced this to 86.

to my mind, that was still too many, as this word document shows (less than a 120 second download on 56k). the scaa advocates only 5 such uglies in a batch.

it means that the best way to ensure you are drinking only high-quality coffee -- no junk coffee, no moldy coffee with "insect parts," or coffee-by-products -- is to buy fresh, whole beans from your local independent specialty roaster/retailer, coffeehouse, or bean store and grind them yourself in your own home.

despite this major compromise, re-joining will remain an important, useful step towards alleviating the poverty and suffering of 125 million human beings -- about 25 million families -- in 50 countries around the world. and that's the good news!

posted by fortune | 12:22 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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