‘Disaster’ Australian coffee harvest in key growing region set to push prices up

Coffee lovers in Australia can expect to pay a premium for a locally brewed brew following a difficult season for farmers in a key growing region.

In New South Wales’ Northern Rivers region, a combination of factors, including coffee’s biennial cycle and contract harvester issues, will result in a smaller crop.

Kahawa Estate Coffee in Teven, in the Byron hinterland, lost the majority of its crop this year due to Jos and Wendy Webber being forced to pick the cherries by hand.

“This year’s harvest has been a disaster for us — we probably lost 80 percent of our crop to the elements,” Mr Webber explained. We’ve done some hand-picking and are nearly finished.

“That is a difficult task and it is not economical — but you cannot let it fall to the ground, and thus we have done our best.”

A senior couple smiling and holding their hands out to demonstrate coffee beans.
This year, Jos and Wendy Webber of Kahawa Estate Coffee in Teven were forced to hand-pick their coffee crop. The Webbers were left “high and dry” along with several other small growers when their contract harvester sold his machine interstate.

“Hand-picking on a commercial-scale plantation is truly inefficient — it’s useful at the start of the season or to clean up the tail,” Mr Webber explained.

“We could have picked a lot more if we had access to backpackers, but we advertised for pickers and received none.”

Read more • abc.net.au

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