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What can't you live without? Switzerland and the coffee stockpile quandary

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By Trent Murray
What can't you live without? Switzerland and the coffee stockpile quandary

The Swiss Government will reconsider its decision to stop stockpiling coffee following public outcry.

Switzerland has long held a 15,000-tonne strategic coffee bean reserve to help prevent supply disruptions for the land-locked country. Coffee has historically been one of several staples on Switzerland's "essential to life" list - which requires producers by law to store a certain amount of goods in case of a national emergency.

But the maintenance of those reserves has recently been questioned by lawmakers, with some arguing coffee beans aren't critical to life in an emergency. But many across Swiss society disagree, and have pushed back against plans to scrap the stockpile.

"Since the time of war, we really consider coffee as being essential to the moral wellbeing and the positive thinking of our people," says Chahan Yeretzian, the head scientist at Zurich's Coffee Excellence Centre.

"The government has been arguing that coffee is not essential because it has no nutritional value, but this is a weird argument because it was never said that coffee is has a nutritional impact on our health. This argument was very shaky from the beginning," he said.

Yeretzian argues the health benefits of coffee are being overlooked.

"It is nutritionally valuable for various reasons. First of all, coffee has no calories and often replaces calorie-rich beverages. Coffee has a lot of antioxidants and other health benefits," he says.

"I believe that coffee is an integral part of our culture. Switzerland is a country that consumes a lot of coffee. We really believe that in case of a crisis, coffee will keep up the morale of the troops as well as the population."

A spokesperson for Switzerland’s Federal Office of National Economic Supply explained to Euronews why the idea to end the stockpile was put forward;

“The original proposal to abolish the coffee stockpile was because it doesn’t have any calories. In an emergency, calories are essential. It is more useful to invest in other drinks and foods to help the population to survive. That’s the reason it was proposed to abolish the coffee stockpile in the first place.”

As for how this will be resolved:

“The government is now analysing all the responses to the consultation and will likely make the final decision sometime next year,” the spokesperson added.