The great coffee bean controversy brews on

By DAWN COHEN

BYRON Bay Coffee Company has agreed to hold imported coffee beans in storage for up to six weeks to protect the local industry from coffee rust.

Controversy has raged over the company's development application to roast and pack imported beans in a shed close to neighbouring Zentveld Coffee's nursery.

Zentveld fears that imported beans will potentially bring the fungus to their crop and destroy the local industry.

Annie Ivancich, owner of Byron Bay Coffee Company, said Bernard Rothfos's book, Coffee Production, states that the germination power of coffee rust spores comes to an end after three weeks.

"But we will store our imported beans for as long as is necessary," she said.

Franco Ivancich, Annie's husband, believes the Zentvelds are exaggerating the danger.

"Even if coffee rust does come, it will not destroy the industry. It is easily controllable with copper oxychloride which is not that expensive," he said.

John Zentveld, manager of Zentveld Coffee, said nobody was certain about how long the spores lasted and the storage conditions necessary to eliminate the risk.

"Hawaii is the only country, besides Australia, that does not have the fungus," he said.

"It is a major selling advantage. Hawaii does not take any chances. They don't let imported beans onto islands that grow coffee."

Ballina Council has deferred their decision, pending independent information on the risk to the local industry.



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