Tag Archives: arabica

Coffee Growers Get Help From Bees, Birds and Bats

By J. Travis Smith

Intensified farming means coffee grown on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, in East Africa, is increasingly not being grown in the shade. This could lead to a stagnation in coffee bean yields as animal species that pollinate coffee and feed on pests could go in decline as more and more shade-providing trees are cut down to make room for plantations.

Shade from banana trees and other tall trees is being reduced as farmers increasingly replace “conventional coffee varieties, which rely on shade, [with] varieties that tolerate lots of sun and are more resistant to fungi,” explained Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, a tropical ecologist at the University of Würzburg’s Biocente. The bushes and small trees producing coffee generally grow 10 to 12 feet high when cultivated.


This research, led by Steffan-Dewenter and his doctoral student Alice Classen, explores the effect of bees, birds, bats and other animals on the coffee’s yield.

“The tropical experts conducted experiments in 12 areas on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, located in all three cultivation systems (Chagga gardens, shade plantations and sun plantations). They used finely woven nets to prevent animals’ access to the coffee flowers or even to entire coffee trees. Then they examined how the presence or absence of the ‘animal service provider’ affects the quantity and quality of the harvest,” said a press release announcing the findings.

The results revealed that when bats and birds had access to the plants, the yield was 10 percent higher. “We believe that this is due to the fact that the animals eliminate pests that would otherwise feed on the coffee plants” said Julia Schmack. The reason could lie in the fact that reduced leaf damage from pests decreases the number of coffee cherries that fall from branches.

Even though the coffee variety, Coffea arabica, is self pollinating, access by bees and other pollinating insects contributed to a 7 percent heavier cherry.

“So, the effects of pollination and pest control complement each other perfectly; both are important for higher yields,” said Steffan-Dewenter: “Birds and bats provide more cherries; bees and other pollinators ensure better quality.”

Despite these findings, the study concluded that intensified farming seems to have no negative effect. The impact of the animal provided services on the harvest was equal in all three cultivation systems, even in the unshaded plantations. “We put this down to the mosaic landscape structure on Mount Kilimanjaro with its gardens, forests and grasslands,” said Classen. Great numbers of small divisions in the landscape could mean, pollinators, birds and bats still find a suitable nesting places, and from there spread into the plantations.

“However, it is likely that these seemingly stable ecosystem services rest on shaky foundations in the sun plantations,” believe the Würzburg scientists. This is due to the fact that other unrecorded pollinators, such as wild bees, hoverflies and butterflies, could be a major contributor to coffee yields. Disruption to these populations could further impact coffee harvests.



Tanzania coffee prices edge higher as supply falls

DAR ES SALAAM, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Tanzania’s coffee prices

rose at auction last week, tracking higher New York and London

markets, the regulator Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) said on


The state-run TCB said 18,046 60-kg bags were offered at the

latest sale and that 14,401 bags were purchased. At the previous

sale, a total of 24,685 60-kg bags had been offered for sale,

with 18,892 bags sold.

“Overall average prices at the Moshi exchange were up by

$4.80 per 50 kg for mild arabica and robusta prices were up by

$19.53 per 50 kg compared to the last auction,” TCB said in its

auction report.

“Average prices at the Moshi exchange were above the

terminal market by $6.54 per 50 kg for mild arabica and robusta

were above the terminal market by $15.59 per 50 kg.”

TCB said benchmark grade AA sold at $110.00-$170.00 per bag

at last week’s auction, higher than $100.00-$123.20 per bag

previously. The average price was $119.28 per bag, up from

$112.41 at the previous auction.

Grade A fetched $112.60-$119.20 per bag, compared with

$113.00-$119.40 per bag at the previous sale. The average price

was $117.42, from $115.78 previously.

Tanzania, Africa’s fourth-largest coffee producer after

Ethiopia, Uganda and Ivory Coast, produces mainly arabica and

some robusta coffee. Prices of its arabica normally track the

New York market while those of robusta take their cue from


TCB said New York markets rose by $1.71 per 50 kg, while

London markets also inched higher by $6.05 per 50 kg.

East African coffee is normally packed in 60-kg bags, but

the prices are quoted for quantities of 50 kg.

The TCB says it expects the 2013/14 crop to fall to 45,000

tonnes from around 71,600 tonnes in the previous season, the

highest output in 20 years.

The next auction will be held on Thursday, but the

regulator said it was considering suspending next week’s auction

due to year-end holidays.


PRICE (dollars)



Arabica AA 5,481 4,109 110.00 170.00 119.28

Arabica A 2,921 1,978 112.60 119.20 117.42

Arabica AB 3,086 2,829 106.00 160.00 119.62

Arabica B 1,860 1,487 100.00 116.60 114.92

Arabica PB 1,143 982 102.00 129.00 117.08

Arabica C 1,490 1,419 76.00 107.00 94.57

Arabica Organic 468 – – – –

Robusta Organic 1,597 1,597 90.00 90.40 90.09


Coffee…A Multi-year low is now in the Rear View

by Matthew Bradbard of RCM Asset Management

For the last five weeks a base has been building in March coffee futures just above the $1.05 level. Two significant developments this week we will see a settlement above the 20 day MA and with futures trading at their highest trade in seven weeks it appears we will get a  settlement above the down sloping trend line that had capped upside for the last seven months. Current trade has futures 3.50 cents below the 50 day MA (light blue line) which has not been penetrated in all of 2013. I expect that to play out in the coming weeks with my objective being the 38.2% Fibonacci level near $1.30 on this contract. The train is just leaving the station and I believe their is time to get on board. The seven year low that was reached in recent weeks may not been revisited for many years in my opinion.
The recent  appreciation has been accentuated by short covering and the idea that a near-term shortage of Robusta beans has the potential to drive up demand for Arabica. Growers in top Robusta producer Vietnam have been holding back their beans, waiting for higher prices…despite harvesting a bumper crop. That has lifted coffee prices on the Liffe to a near 3 1/2 month high. The gap between the two different blends narrowed last week to a five year low near 28 cents/lb. A rise in consumption is expected by 1.6% year over year in Arabica – the largest jump since 07-08′. Before getting too excited 14′ is expected to be the third year of surplus production so Bulls should take their profits on a spike higher in the coming weeks.



Robusta Coffee Spread Gains to Record on Vietnam; Cocoa Retreats

By Isis Almeida  Dec 9, 2013 8:31

The premium robusta coffee for delivery in January commands over the March futures climbed to a record, signaling tightening supplies as shipments fall from leading producer Vietnam and stockpiles dwindle. Cocoa dropped.

The beans used to make instant coffee and espresso for January delivery climbed to as much as $49 a metric ton above the March futures, a record since the spread started trading in July 2012. Vietnam’s coffee exports fell in the past two months and robusta stockpiles in warehouses tracked by NYSE Liffe are at the lowest since at least 2002, data on Bloomberg showed.

“The spot month has been supported by limited flow of Vietnamese 2013-14 crop,” Andrea Thompson, head of research and analysis at CoffeeNetwork, a unit of brokerage INTL FCStone Inc., said by phone today from BelfastNorthern Ireland. “The Liffe certified stocks have been the main source of robusta stocks and they continue to decline.”

Robusta coffee for January delivery gained 2.1 percent to $1,758 a ton by 12:14 p.m. on NYSE Liffe in London. The spread between the January and March futures was trading at $45 a ton from $30 a ton a week earlier. That market structure, in which earlier-dated contracts are priced higher than deferred ones, is known as backwardation and may signal limited supplies.

Vietnamese coffee exports in October and November were just over 150,000 tons, down from 240,000 tons a year earlier, Volcafe, a unit of commodities trader ED&F Man Holdings Ltd., said in a Dec. 6 report. Bean stockpiles in Ho Chi Minh City increased during both months and carryover inventories in the hands of farmers were among the highest ever, the trader added.

Inventories in NYSE Liffe-tracked warehouses were 45,900 tons as of Nov. 25. That’s below the 52,000 tons a Bloomberg survey of 10 traders published in August forecast for the end of the year. The exchange will update inventories this week.

Arabica Consolidation

In New York, arabica coffee for delivery in March was 0.6 percent higher at $1.07 a pound on ICE Futures U.S. Futures trading volumes were about average for the past 100 days for the time of day, data compiled by Bloomberg showed.

“Arabica has started to consolidate, but this is more to do with spillover strength from robusta, where certified stocks are falling,” Kona Haque, an analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in London, said in a report e-mailed today. She forecast prices may drop to 90 cents a pound next year partly on supplies from Brazil, the world’s largest producer of all coffee varieties.

“With incremental roaster demand still skewed toward robusta, we recommend staying short arabica,” Haque said.

Refined, or white, sugar for March delivery rose 0.6 percent to $451.20 a ton in London. Raw sugar for March delivery was 0.9 percent higher at 16.74 cents a pound in New York.

Cocoa for delivery in March fell 0.6 percent to 1,752 pounds ($2,870) a ton on NYSE Liffe. Cocoa for delivery in the same month slid 0.4 percent to $2,793 a ton on ICE.