How the Coffee Prices you Pay Work



If you drink a lot of coffee, you know that coffee prices can vary wildly from one brand to another. The type of coffee that your purchasing and the roast of that coffee also often play into the price you pay. Coffee is a hugely popular beverage worldwide. The United States is among the leading consumers of coffee, with an average of around 20 gallons of coffee being drunk by every American every year. The way this coffee is farmed affects the price you pay, as well. Those who truly love this beverage usually know why “top shelf” brands are so expensive: the taste.

The prices you see in a store begin with the farmers. At present, Brazil produces more coffee than any other nation. Some Latin American nations produce smaller quantities, but their coffee is prized among gourmets; Costa Rica, for example. The growers that produce the coffee sometimes work under what is called a “Fair Trade” arrangement. This type of price control ensures that the farmers have a predictable income from the harvest. Sometimes, these coffees are more expensive than others and sometimes they’re not. Coffee prices are actually quite variable and investors trade the beans as a commodity.

Some roasts are usually more expensive than others. Espresso roasts, which are among the darkest, usually come at a higher price than does the standard, light-roast American-style coffee. This sometimes leads people to think that espresso roasts and other dark coffees are snobbish indulgences. There’s really nothing snooty about these coffees, however. The beans cost a bit more for many reasons, from the roasting process to the selection process. Anyone who likes a good cup of drip coffee in the morning will also likely appreciate a shot of espresso in the morning.

When you pay higher coffee prices, however, it doesn’t always mean you’re getting better beans. There are some companies that have gourmet-quality coffees at prices which one would expect to pay for regular, bulk coffee. These are excellent choices for those who want to experiment a bit and see if they like espresso, or a dark French roast or any other kind of coffee. Even gourmet coffee is very inexpensive on a cup by cup basis, so don’t’ be afraid to experiment with different types of coffee based on other criteria, in addition to the different qualities and roasts.

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