Happy International Coffee Day!

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages!

Around 125 million people worldwide depend on coffee for their livelihoods. It is one of the most valuable and widely traded tropical agricultural products and is mainly produced by smallholder farmers. Many of them however are unable to earn a reliable living from the coffee they produce. 

Coffee is well known for being a boom and bust commodity. Global coffee production varies from year to year according to weather conditions, disease and other factors, resulting in a coffee market that is inherently unstable and characterised by wide fluctuations in price. This price volatility has significant consequences for those who depend on coffee for their livelihood, making it difficult for growers to predict their income for the coming season and budget for their household and farming needs. 

The coffee supply chain is complex as beans pass through the hands of growers, traders, processors, exporters, roasters, retailers until finally reaching the consumer. Most farmers have little idea of where their coffee goes or what price it ends up selling for. The more lucrative export of green coffee – beans that have been processed ready for export and roasting – is only an option for farmers who are able to form co-operatives, purchase processing equipment and organise export, or hire a contractor to carry out these.

Source: Fairtrade

There are many coffee farmers in Africa – Lets explore a few for International Coffee Day


Ethiopia gave the world Coffee Arabica, the most commonly consumed species of coffee in the world. Naturally organic and distinctive in flavour, with premium qualities fitting for both local consumption and the export market, Ethiopian coffee boasts a high value. But very few coffee farmers have been able to take advantage of this opportunity.


In Uganda, Farm Africa worked to close the gender gap in the coffee industry by providing women with greater autonomy at the household, farm and cooperative level.

Women may be the backbone of the coffee industry in Kanungu, western Uganda, which fuels the local economy, but it is typically men who have control over the profits. This is exacerbated by women’s lack of access to land, finance and representation in cooperatives, which help farmers sell their coffee to lucrative markets.

Dr Congo

Extreme weather, armed conflict and the pandemic are just some of the threats facing farming communities along the DR Congo’s Virunga National Park. But this lush, volcanic land is home to some of the finest Arabica coffee in the world and Farm Africa is working to ensure local farmers realise their potential.

Read more on Farm Africa


Coffee was introduced to the country in the late 1800s when Dr. John Buchanan brought the Nyasaland variety (a Bourbon/Typica derivative) from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Before Malawi became independent in 1964, many of the large coffee farms in the country were owned by British colonists, and were concentrated in the Thyolo and Mulanje regions. 

Under colonial rule, Malawian coffee farmers were overworked and underpaid. However, in 1971, the newly-independent Malawian government reformed the smallholder coffee sector using an organisational structure known as the Smallholder Coffee Authority (SCA). 

But despite the new structure, through the 1980s and 1990s, coffee wilt disease disrupted the production of Malawian coffee. Alongside widespread organisational mismanagement, the country saw a serious decline in coffee cultivation. 

Arabica is the only species of coffee grown in Malawi. Coffee from the country is often described as sweet, delicate, and floral, with notes of liquorice and spice.

Read more on the Daily Grind

South Africa

Did you know there are coffee farms in South Africa?

Mpenjati – Kwazulu Natal

Beaver Creek – Kwazulu Natal

Follow Matt in Africa – New coffee farm in Limpopo

Take a moment on International Coffee day to really appreciate every sip of your coffee.

Next time you order your favourite coffee, ask your barista if they can tell you more about the coffee that you are drinking. Find out about the coffee beans where they are from, if they know who the farmers are?

The more we talk about these topics the better understanding we will have about this magnificent beverage that contributes to our everyday life.

Have a great international coffee day.

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