One of the most commonly asked questions we get around here at Sprudge goes something like this: “Since coffee costs more now than ever, do those coffee prices impact the amount of money earned by coffee farmers?” The answer is complicated, multi-faceted, and without a single set of easy answers, with different narratives and impacts depending on which corner of the coffee growing world you might be talking about. And one recent story on Sprudge Special Projects shows how nuanced the conversation can be.

In an original reported feature by Tonggo Simangunsong, the journalist visited coffee farmers in the  Northern Sumatran village of Lintong Ni Huta, where coffee has been cultivated for generations. Here a complex set of challenges have created an unusual reality in which coffee has never been worth more, but yields are shrinking each year. “Pests, disease, and climate all contribute to these dropping yields,” reports Simangunsong, “and on the day I visited, around 20 percent of what was picked appeared to be defective.”

sumtra coffee coffee drying

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Throughout the arc of this feature, the journalist interviews coffee farmers, agronomists, researchers, and the leader of a Sumatran coffee farmers advocacy network to knit together a complex portrait of coffee farming realities on the ground in Sumatra today. His conclusion is hopeful: despite the challenges these small farmers face, improved techniques—and the rising value of green coffee—represents a huge opportunity in the years to come.

Read “The Debt Payer: Coffee Pests, Climate Change, And Hopes For A Better Harvest” On Sprudge Special Projects 

Sprudge Special Projects is a hub for long-form original journalism and select archival features on Sprudge. Since 2009, Sprudge has been the world’s premier home for thought-provoking coffee journalism, evocative photo essays, design deep-dives, and cultural narratives. Special Projects Desk continues this tradition in 2023 and beyond, platforming exceptional works from the field of coffee journalism.

Special Projects Desk is supported by La Marzocco, handcrafting espresso machines in Florence, Italy since 1927. Their mission is to support the growth of specialty coffee; they believe that increasing knowledge and understanding is the best way to develop a thriving future for the coffee industry.

Sprudge is actively seeking pitches for long-form coffee writing—from both established and emerging journalists—without language or experience prerequisites. For more information, contact us.

Explore the complete archives of Sprudge Special Projects here. 

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