Here's What's Brewing: National Coffee Day

2 cups of coffee

Here's What's Brewing: National Coffee Day
| published Sept. 29, 2014 |

By Thursday Review staff


Nothing warms the hearts of the staff at Thursday Review more than coffee. Indeed, just ask web designer Lisa Whitten, writer Kevin Robbie, or editor Alan Clanton how they function first thing each day in the event that they do NOT have that first cup of morning brew.

And as coffee-lovers everywhere probably know, September 29 is National Coffee Day, an event celebrated not just in the United States, but worldwide in places as diverse as Ethiopia, Sweden, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Hungary (several countries, including Japan and Austria, celebrate instead on October 1).

In the U.S., where any holiday or special date is an excuse to promote something (National Hot Dog Day is July 23; National Pizza Day is November 12) for the purposes of making a buck or two, National Coffee Day is not merely for folks to consume by sitting around sipping their warm brew. It is also a day for the politically-correct and important business of awareness about free trade and environmental issues.

First, the fair trade aspect of coffee: like other commodities sold worldwide, there is the risk that specific products from specific countries may include severe inequities in how the product is produced and sold. One of the chief concerns about coffee has been for decades that those who farm it and sell it are being treated equitably on the open market, and that such transactions include complete transparency. Another concern: neither slave labor nor child labor be a part of the planting, farming or harvesting processes of coffee—aspects that were once taken for granted in many countries.

The production of coffee has always been a tricky and sensitive process. Coffee does not grow as easily as our intuition would tell us it should. Coffee plants are susceptible—in way that many other food product are not—to blight, disease, pests, and shifting weather conditions. Like peanuts and soybean, coffee requires just the right amount of rainfall—not too much or too little. A severe drought which began last year in Brazil, and that has lasted on and off through much of this year, has, for example, driven up the price of coffee worldwide. Brazil supplies the lion’s share of coffee, especially Arabica, the blend preferred by most western drinkers.

Whereas several South American countries had, at one time, a virtual lock on the production of coffee, other countries have begun to compete in a more globally connected market. Aside from the countries we generally associate with coffee—such as Guatemala, Honduras, Columbia and Peru—millions of dollars’ worth of coffee is produced in places as diverse as Vietnam, Ethiopia, India, Uganda, Indonesia and Malaysia. Vietnam, as a matter of fact, is now the world’s second-largest producer of coffee, exporting during the crop year 2010-11 more than 18.7 thousand wholesale bags (162 pounds) for worldwide consumption. By contrast, traditional coffee lands such as Columbia and Honduras produce only about half and one quarter, respectively, of Vietnam’s massive output.

But enough about the economics and market forces of coffee. What exactly happens on Naitonal Coffee Day that matters to the average Thursday Review reader? Plenty.

Among other retail gimmicks, Dunkin’ Donuts is offering one free cup of its Dark Roast coffee at any Dunkin’ Donut location in North America. DD is also offering heavily discounted coffees on September 30 and October 1 (when the commemoration is celebrated in other countries), generally 99 cents per cup for the Dark Roast flavor.

Dunkin’ Donuts biggest competitor, Krispy Kreme, is offering a free cup of brew in its 12 ounce size. In addition, Krispy Kreme will have deeply discounted specialties like mocha and latte.

McDonald’s, one of the world’s biggest suppliers of coffee, is also offering one free cup all day on September 29, the last day of a special coffee event it has been promoting for about two weeks.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea, a close competitor to Starbucks, is also offering free samples (small size only) of several coffee flavors, as well as Peet’s famous espresso. Peet’s is also offering deep discounts (up to $2 per bag) on bagged coffee at some locations on September 29 only.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Coffee, Tea, Cold Drinks & Fizz; Thursday Review (Archives); Sunday, May 18, 2014.

How Much Will You Pay For Coffee?; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review (Archives); March 14, 2014.