The price of coffee is influenced by many factors. Natural disasters like hurricanes can damage entire growing areas and drive up prices. While the non-arrival of an expected freeze can have the opposite effect and lower prices.
Coffee prices will also be affected by the business behavior of major global investment centers. Coffee is a commodity and investors not only buy and sell at today’s prices, but also trade futures on its anticipated price in the future.
While the weather and global trade determine the price of a pound of coffee, there is a group of people who have no control over what they get paid. This group is made up of the farmers who actually grow the coffee beans.
What you see at the supermarket
As coffee prices increase, you will see corresponding changes in the supermarket. This is especially true of low-cost coffee brands like Maxwell House and Folgers.
But often, rather than raising the price, these companies reduce the size of the cans or simply use inferior coffees.
When coffee prices rise, farmers do not necessarily get paid more.
Over the past twenty years, the price of coffee has been consistently low, sometimes selling for as little as 50 cents US per pound.
Here are the prices per pound, in US dollars, in January of the last few years (this is a composite price, averaged over grains of different types and origins).
And as you’ll see, the price doesn’t always go up.
Right now – 2019 – the price is at its lowest in over 10 years.
January 2010 – $ 1.26 per pound
January 2011 – $ 1.97 per pound
January 2012 – $ 1.88 per pound
January 2013 – $ 1.35 per pound
January 2019 – $ 1.00 per pound
Today, with a pound price of one dollar or less, many coffee producers are abandoning their farms.
In fact, many coffee farmers are now completely leaving their homes and settling in cities or trying to migrate to other countries.
Even when the price goes up, it is believed that this would be good news for small coffee producers.
Not necessarily. Coffee farmers are often forced to sell their coffee beans through a series of intermediaries such as brokers, warehouse owners and shippers.
When the price of coffee goes up, the extra pennies end up in the pockets of those with the most influence and power. As you can imagine, this includes almost everyone except farmers.
What can you do? Buy fair trade coffee whenever you can.
You may have no control over the price of coffee, but you can make sure the farmers are getting a fair price.
This is fair trade. When you buy fair trade coffee, $ 1.40 goes directly to the agricultural cooperative that grew it.
And you don’t have to search little-known small businesses to find it, either. Many of the better-known coffee shop chains like Starbucks offer fair trade coffee. Like many online coffee stores.
The price of coffee per pound is completely out of the control of the coffee growers who grow it.
It is only through fair trade that they can earn enough to support their families and keep their farms.
Find out more on the fair trade organic coffee page …
About the Author: Nick Usborne aka Coffee Detective is a lifelong writer and coffee enthusiast. Find out more …