Protecting our coffee supply

The Gadsden (Ala.) Times: In the mornings, everyone seems to be firing up a coffee maker and rinsing out a favorite cup, or heading for the closest barista or drive-thru window for a needed caffeine rush before work.

You might be surprised to learn that the United States actually doesn’t rank very high on the list of coffee consuming countries.

According to Euromonitor, a market research firm based in London, the U.S. is No. 16, each citizen drinking .931 of a cup of coffee per day.

Do the math, however, and that’s about 295.7 million cups of coffee a day and 107.9 billion cups a year in the U.S.

More of them — 34 percent of coffee drinkers, according to the National Coffee Association — are choosing beverages brewed from gourmet beans grown on tiny farms in the higher altitudes of Central America.

Those farms are facing an outbreak of coffee rust fungus that is devastating the region. It already has inflicted $1 billion in damage and is threatening to reduce production by 15 percent to 40 percent.

The goal is to develop more rust-resistant types of coffee and help individual countries get a quicker handle on the fungus.

We think it’s a worthy goal, although we’re sure some folks will see it as a boondoggle to ensure that coffee elitists don’t have to dig deeper for their high-priced beverages.

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