5 Reasons to be Hopeful About the Future of Coffee

To celebrate National Coffee Day, TechnoServe shared insights and stories about the smallholder farmers who grow this transformative crop and the impact coffee has had on their daily lives.

There are few commodities that have the potential to connect people quite like a cup of coffee. Two out of three Americans drink coffee on a daily basis; yet as consumers, we often feel disconnected from the farmers who grow our coffee and have little knowledge about how this popular beverage gets from the farm to our cups. In celebration of National Coffee Day, TechnoServe is shining a spotlight on the smallholder farmers and TechnoServe programs that are fueling progress in the coffee sector.

1. Escaping the drug trade: How coffee offers a better life for farmers in former coca-growing regions

In San Martín, Peru, coca used to dominate the landscape. As a young child, José Wilmer Huamán Rengifo remembers how his community was constantly threatened by the drug trade, and how farmers were forced to grow coca because there were no other economic opportunities. Eventually, the coca was replaced by other crops, including coffee. Now, through the Coffee Alliance for Excellence (CAFE) program, farmers like Wilmer are learning how to grow coffee, transforming their lives in the process.

2. Coffee makes a comeback in Zimbabwe after a decades-long decline

Despite Zimbabwe’s long history of producing high-quality coffee, production dropped significantly in the early 2000s because of economic hardship and climate shocks. By 2016, only about 400 smallholder coffee farmers remained. Since 2017, TechnoServe has worked with Nespresso to restore Zimbabwe’s coffee-growing regions through the Reviving Origins program, which trains coffee farmers in agronomy, processing, and sustainability best practices, helping them increase their yields and improve their incomes.

Coffee farmers in Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands

3. In Central America, Honduras emerges as a leader in coffee production

Coffee provides an income for about 120,000 families and up to 300,000 rural workers in Honduras. Despite a devastating outbreak of coffee leaf rust in 2013, in recent years Honduras has emerged as the top coffee producer in Central America and one of the top 10 producers globally. Coffee remains one of the few crops adaptable to the country’s mountainous terrain and is one of the most promising tools for reducing poverty in Honduras, particularly in the mountainous central and western regions.

4. Ethiopian forest coffee proves that coffee can be both sustainable and profitable

In certain areas of Ethiopia, coffee still exists in its original state – growing wild under a dense forest canopy. TechnoServe partnered with Partnerships for Forests to protect Ethiopia’s ecologically unique and biodiverse habitats, while also improving the livelihoods of forested coffee farmers. Despite challenges such as low commodity prices and changing weather patterns, farmers in this program are learning that coffee production can be both economically viable and environmentally sustainable.

5. Better training equals better livelihoods in Uganda

In Uganda, TechnoServe is working with smallholder coffee farmers to increase yields and improve livelihoods – leaving farmers with more income to invest in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. We shared a behind-the-scenes look at the daily activities of Rose Caroline Nabukwasi, a coffee agronomy advisor based outside Kampala, Uganda. Our agronomy advisors offer technical expertise and training for farmers, and are an essential part of our coffee team.