Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Direct Trade picks up speed

We are committed to buying our products from suppliers and avoiding middlemen, because traditionally only about 10-20% of the profit of coffee goes to the farmer when he sells to his local brokers. As a result, the lifestyle of coffee farmers is endangered around the globe. Farming families often live a subsistence lifestyle and can't afford schooling or medical care.

When farmers can find markets in the USA or other "end consumer" regions where buyers will pay them direct the price they ask, farmers get all the profit and the difference is amazing. Children go to school and get medical care, and farming communities stabilize because the life of the farmer looks more attractive and children are less likely to head off to the cities for opportunity, where their lack of education and skills usually results in exploitation.

Fair Trade does not accomplish the same results, as Fair Trade is based on a margin added to the broker price. The farmer still suffers and often lives in all-consuming debt. Only Direct Trade addresses the farmer's real needs.

We have campaigned for Direct Trade since our founding in 2005, and the noise we created seems to be helping bring about a sea change in the way buyers are seeing producers. Dozens of wonderful programs have opened up to empower farmers by improving their crops and methods and giving them access to major markets. Some of these programs are run by the large milling companies, who are beginning to realize (belatedly) that what is good for farmer communities is good for their own business. Others are run by third-party groups who make this their mission.

All told, the amount of coffee being purchased through Direct Trade has skyrocketed in the last two years, and it's beginning to have an impact of farming communities around the world. As we like to say, the USA/Canada coffee market is so big that if every North American coffee consumer had one cup of Direct Trade coffee a day, more than 10 million people around the globe would enjoy a better lifestyle, and millions of children would have a brighter future.

It's such an easy way to make a major difference in the world. Enjoy your cup of Direct Trade coffee from Len's Coffee today, and know that the smile it puts on your face is echoed somewhere in the coffee lands on a child's face.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Coffee Cancer Warning Flap in California

Well, apparently our next few months will be spent answering questions about this court ruling. First thing to remember is that rulings by courts have no informative value in terms of what reality is; it only means the plaintiff was able to successfully get a ruling in their favor.

In the case of the coffee cancer warning, the ruling means that studies that show that feeding acrylamide (a natural substance occurring in many foods, and coffee after roasting) in very high doses (1,000-100,000 times the amount people get through their diet) into mice can cause cancer, trump the evidence that coffee can help people live longer (as a recent NIH study confirmed), because nobody has yet performed a study that PROVES that mice live longer when they drink coffee :-)

(Note: For decades people avoided saccharin artificial sweetener because of studies done on rats, until more recent studies showed that the physiology of rats is different enough from humans that saccharin actual poses no known risk. Studies of this type are becoming increasingly suspect.)

Now we are getting tons of inquiries as to whether our coffee has acrylamide. Of course it does. All coffee that is roasted does. (Acrylamide is found in hundreds of foods, such as prunes, cereals, roasted potatoes, etc.) So now it is up to consumers whether they want to believe studies that show mice get cancer when injected with it are more valuable than the many studies done by the NIH and the National Cancer Institute and others, that show that coffee is overall a healthy contributor to diet.

Since the media will go absolute rabid with articles about the cancer warning, we don't need to provide links to that here. Instead, for any of our customers who would like more information, we suggest these links that support the overall health benefits of coffee:

We will also reproduce here the conclusion of the NIH study (the National Institute of Health is largely considered the most reliable agency in the country regarding consumer health):

"Older adults who drank coffee — caffeinated or decaffeinated — had a lower risk of death overall than others who did not drink coffee, according a study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and AARP.

Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, although the association was not seen for cancer. These results from a large study of older adults were observed after adjustment for the effects of other risk factors on mortality, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Researchers caution, however, that they can't be sure whether these associations mean that drinking coffee actually makes people live longer. The results of the study were published in the May 17, 2012 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine."

And also this study by Swedish institute:

"Coffee drinkers enjoy not only the taste of their coffee but also a reduced risk of cancer with their cuppa. New research shows that drinking coffee specifically reduces the risk of antiestrogen-resistant estrogen-receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer. "

And this one from American Gastroenterological Association:

"Coffee consumption reduces risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer, by about 40 percent, according to an up-to-date meta-analysis. Further, some data indicate that three cups of coffee per day reduce liver cancer risk by more than 50 percent."


Currently, the U.S. federal government does not classify acrylamide as a carcinogen when it’s in food.

If consumers have concerns about acrylamine, which apparently is the new latest thing to worry about, note that it is primarily formed when applying the highest heat. Which means that Dark Roast coffee will have more than Light Roast. It also means that green bean extracts are not considered a source of the substance because the beans are boiled at 212 degrees F.

Consumers have a confusing volume of studies and facts to face in learning about the health of coffee. It's a personal decision that we will all need to make as to what evidence we believe.

We personally believe that coffee is not a miracle drug that can cure cancer. We also don't believe that anybody has ever shown evidence of coffee in humans causing increased mortality. We think that in the end, it will be decided that coffee has many health-giving properties that seem to balance out any negative effects. Only time will tell if our own beliefs will be shown to be true, and the debate will probably go back and forth forever. Meanwhile, we will brew ourselves a delicious cup of COFFEE and carry on.

If you decide to avoid coffee because of acrylamide, you might want to just stop eating altogether. Here is a partial list of products with acrylamides: prunes, cereals (the biggest source in the American diet), bread, crackers, roasted potatoes, roasted nuts, olives, cocoa & chocolate, chili, tortillas, frogs legs, candied yams, pretzels, popcorn, veggie chips (has 6x as much as roasted coffee), peanut butter, pecan frangipan, pies, onion soup, Terra veggie chips... and my personal favorite, Lamb Weston Inland Valley Fajita Fries (not!).