October always marks a change here in the UK: schools are back in full swing, the days are getting noticeably shorter, and the weather noticeably colder. All of these usually encourage us to turn to our good friend coffee; so let’s have a look at some news from origin to better understand what may well have become the nation’s favourite drink . This month we are looking at Ethiopia, Colombia, and Peru.
Having recently returned from Ethiopia (trip report coming soon) this will be the freshest scoop in this article. The harvest has already begun in the Limu region, with some lower lying areas of Sidama and Yirgacheffe following shortly after. Most of the coffee hitting the mills now will be lower altitude and hence lower grade coffee; higher altitude better scoring coffee will being harvesting through November. After processing, drying, sorting, resting, milling and we can expect to start seeing Ethiopian coffee in Europe sometime in the new year.
Rains were still prevalent in much of the southern regions (namely Yirgacheffe, Sidama and Guji) while we were there. We heard conflicting views on whether this was expected or beyond the standard rainy season, but whichever way round it is – its not good for the harvest. Rains during the harvest means greater challenges harvesting, transporting, and drying. Climate change may drive the rainy season to overstay its welcome more often.
The price of cherry remains moderately high in Ethiopia, but prices have fallen since last year. Many exporters were left with excess stock last year as high prices drove down exports. The ceasefire in the civil war was hailed as milestone which would bring back international trade and lift sanctions however, those benefits remain to be seen yet as uncertainty over the situation in northern Ethiopia remains.
The coffee harvest in central Colombia is now past its peak, while in the northern regions such as Sierra Nevada, producers have opened their collection points. The coffees processed now will likely be shipped in early November, with later harvest going through until the end of the year. The shift in weather pattern to El Niño bring uncertainties to the harvest in many regions, which you can read more about on our website , to what extent it is too early to say.
Typically, the central region experiences a dry season from October to December, and May to June, while in the northern regions only have one dry season from December to March. It is these two regions which are having their harvest currently, with the southern regions usually harvesting between March and June each year.
Coffee exports from Peru reached their highest levels in a decade in the last year but have edged off in recent months. Between January and August 2023, we saw a 25% decrease in coffee exports compared to the same period in 2022. Concern is also mounting in the coffee industry about Peruvian exports going forward for several reasons including EUDR regulations , rising costs and ageing plantations.
A survey carried out by Elevafinca of members of the coffee industry in Peru found that although 90% of respondents were aware of the EU Deforestation Regulation, only 50% had a clear understanding of the requirements. Property rights also pose an issue as up to 60% of coffee-growing families lack deeds to their property. This is intrinsic to Peru’s land rights system and will likely cause issue when trying to map farmer’s land to comply with EUDR.