In August, we announced our decision not to exhibit at the 2021 Specialty Coffee Expo in response to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. This decision provided us the opportunity to find another way to connect with the international coffee community, and we shared our intention to donate a portion of our Expo budget to select non-profit organizations whose work impacts coffee producers, their families, and their communities. Following a period of research and deliberation about which non-profit organizations align most closely with our purpose as a company, we’re thrilled to announce that we have selected three organizations which are having significant impact in coffee producing communities around the world. We’re proud to share these organizations with you, beginning with World Coffee Research.
About World Coffee Research
World Coffee Research (WCR) is a 501(c)5 non-profit agricultural research organization formed in 2012 to drive collaborative innovation to ensure the future of coffee. WCR focuses on research with the potential to dramatically improve coffee productivity, coffee quality, climate resilience, and farmer livelihoods to support origin diversity. Their work focuses on coffee varieties and knowledge, and is born from the understanding that the coffee plant is the most important technology in the coffee supply chain—impacting the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, from farmers to baristas.
Ssajja Emmanuel at his farm in Rubirizi district, Rwenzori region, Uganda, where he hosts an on-farm trial including SL-14, SL-28, and Batian varieties. Image courtesy of World Coffee Research.
World Coffee Research recognizes that there are serious risks facing the coffee industry today—climate change, low yields, diseases and pests, and barriers to quality are prevalent throughout coffee growing areas. However, by acting as a bridge between industry market demand and national research programs, WCR is charting a path toward a more sustainable and equitable future for people throughout the coffee supply chain. To accomplish this, World Coffee Research works across four program areas:
- Field and quality trials
- Nurseries and seed value chains
- Global Leadership
Dr. Francisco Anzueto (WCR Scientific Coordinator - Central America) walks through seedlings in the shade in Guatemala. Photo credit: Devon Barker, courtesy of World Coffee Research
World Coffee Research is dedicated to working collaboratively, globally, and openly on their research. Their work spans 26 countries currently, with a particular focus in 11 countries containing 50% of the world’s 12.5 million family coffee farms, which are critical to the preservation of origin diversity. And, importantly, World Coffee Research’s work is “precompetitive,” completed for the benefit of the entire industry and shared openly with the global community.
What Work is World Coffee Research Doing Today?
World Coffee Research’s Strategy 2021–2025, focuses on responding to the threat of eroding origin diversity through a strategic focus on accelerating innovation for coffee agriculture. WCR works closely with research institutes, extension organizations, exporters, and others to modernize variety improvement systems so that better plants are available and accessible to farmers. The objectives for this strategy are multi-faceted, and include the following:
- Enhance the productivity of climate-resilient coffee production in order to increase farmer profitability, the linchpin of farmer economic sustainability
- Improve the quality potential of coffee trees for different market segments (from commercial to premium to specialty, encompassing both arabica and robusta)
- Mitigate supply chain risk by enhancing the competitiveness of strategically selected countries from the Americas, East Africa and Asia and driving an innovation agenda toward climate goals
Coffee seedlings at Rocael Vasquez's on-farm nursery in Guatemala. Photo credit: Devon Barker, courtesy of World Coffee Research
Highlights from their work in 2021 include:
- Completion of a second year of analysis for WCR’s F1 hybrids bred in 2015
- Progress with international multi-location variety trials, discovering more about the interactions between coffee genetics and the environment in which the coffee is grown
- Expansion of WCR’s Nursery Program across Latin America, growing from 66 seed lots to an expected 78 seed lots
Learn More About World Coffee Research
To learn more about World Coffee Research, you can visit their website, read their Strategy 2021–2025 PDF release, and watch their latest Think + Drink Event on YouTube where they discuss recent research progress and their outlook for what’s ahead.