The Bennetts Monthly August '20
All things Bennetts & Coffee ...
WELCOME TO AUGUST!
2020 has been a rollercoaster for most Australians, and now as we head into stage 4 restrictions in Victoria in an attempt to beat Covid-19, there is some uncertainty about supply chain movements and availability of coffee. Rest assured, Bennetts will remain open and trading through these challenges times , albeit in a more adaptable structure to before. We now have a majority of our team working remotely, and just core functions in the cupping room onsite. We can still offer you all our usual services – so it’s business as usual.
Our Melbourne warehouse provider is still functioning as usual, and will be despatching your orders as before (however if you are picking up your order, new regulations will require you to wear a face mask prior to entering the property). Interstate deliveries will still be despatched, but please note with state boarders closed, we anticipate some delays of between 1 to 2 days in arrival time. Please take this into consideration when placing your order.
Behind the scenes, we have been working hard to refresh our website. This month we anticipate the launch of our new site…. keep an eye out for the changes!
A WORD FROM THE CUPPING ROOM
Last week we landed a container of mixed Grade 1 Natural, Washed and Honey Ethiopian Microlots. These sold out in an unprecedented time, so fast that we didn’t get a chance to promote them! However, … we are fortunate enough to have a second container of these special coffees landing in just two weeks. So if you missed out, please get in touch with your Account Manager as soon as possible!
There is one sneaky lot left of the Ethiopia Guji Uraga Gr1 Yellow Honey. This year we sought out our first honey processed Ethiopians though exporters Tracon. The Yellow Honey is a Pulped Natural process - a method in which the fresh coffee cherries is de-pulped but allowed to dry without washing. Some of the fruit is remains on the seed, but not nearly as much as in the natural process. Most of the cherry pulp is removed, but the remaining golden, sticky mucilage is reminiscent of honey, which is where the process gets its name. The coffee is slowly dried over 18 days. One benefit to producers is that honey processing uses less water. Allowing the fruit to dry on the bean means that it can be physically removed during milling rather than being washed off as is typical of washed coffees… we have just 11 x 30Kg sacks available today.
Last month we saw speculators trying to pump some life into an otherwise dead coffee futures market by using the old “It’s winter in Brazil, so there must be a high risk of a frost” trick. This, as expected did not work, as the September 2020 contract failed to break through the 105 US cents/lb barrier and promptly drifted back down below 100 US cents/lb by the middle of the month.
However, not to be dissuaded, speculators had another crack at bringing the market back to life. Armed with an arsenal of vigorous short-covering and a vague threat of drought in Brazil some undisclosed time in the future, they were successful in driving prices all the way past the 125 US cents/lb mark before (seemingly at least) running out of steam during the first week of August.
All this demonstrates that in the current environment, the coffee market will only ever move significantly if pushed by actors from outside the sector. It still remains the case that demand continues to be shaky at best, due to the overarching direness of the global economic situation. On the supply side, it is still the case that there will be a lot of coffee coming out of Brazil, the world’s largest Arabica producer. And with a historically-weak Brazilian Real, we wouldn’t expect too much upside for US-denominated pricing of coffee, as you need less dollars to buy the same amount of Reals in order to pay local sellers.
Covid-19 has taken a toll on the global coffee industry. Below are some recent reports from Central and South America.
Brazil harvest conditions continue to be favourable. The normal try harvest conditions are expected to continue with slightly warmer temperatures than usual. While farmers have been investing in good farm maintenance, they are struggling to find workers due to Covid-19, which has led to an overall cost in wages and production.
Colombia is looking to have their best (main crop) of the last five years as many producers are adapting new techniques for increasing productivity and volumes during picking by catching falling cherry on tarps under the trees. As over five million people have become unemployed due to Covid-19, there is no expectation that Colombia will experience any labour shortages during the harvest.
Honduras is constantly struggling against low coffee market pricing, and with further stress applied by the global pandemic, we do not expect to see any expansion or increase of coffee farming in the regions for some time yet. If boarders to neighboring countries remain closed, Honduras could see some labour shortages at harvest time as migrating Guatemalans will be restricted.
Guatemala maintained good weather this season and the trees are well rested after a smaller 19/20 crop. Overall volumes of coffee grown in Guatemala could diminish as the tendency to farm coffee is becoming less relevant, and the highlands best suited to growing coffee are rapidly diminishing. This coming seasons harvest should be well managed if local villages can coordinate the transport of pickers during covid-19 restrictions.
Mexico is finally making a recovery after the La Roya crisis five years ago. Farming renovations, soil improvements and the planting of new varietals have led to a steady increase in quality and production. As with Honduras, the restriction of national boarders during Covid-19 will limit Guatemalan migrants during the harvest.
Have a great August,
The Bennetts Team