SPECIALITY COFFEE VS. COMMODITY COFFEE

What’s the difference (in taste and price) between coffee traded on the stock exchange, and our coffee?

SPECIALITY COFFEE: WHAT IS IT?

There’s two things to remember about ‘speciality coffee’. One has to do with quality, and the other is the prices farmers are paid.

Basically, coffees are ‘speciality’ if they’ve got no defects as green and have been scored 80+/100 in taste tests by coffee experts. It’s about quality. These tests are extensive - marking coffees flavour, acidity, mouthfeel and more. These scores are a direct result of seriously hard work. Farmers constantly monitor and adjust growing practices, so next season’s crop is always better than the last.

THE COST OF SPECIALITY COFFEE

You’d pay more for a three-course gourmet meal than a supermarket meal deal - and that’s why we give farmers more money for their coffee.

It’s a cliché, but it holds up. You get what you pay for. We’re buying some of the best coffee in the world, so it stands to reason we’d cough up a price that reflects that. Premium rates, for a premium product. As a principle, we always pay 25-125% more than Fairtrade does. And that’s because their rates are only a little above the commodity market.

COFFEE COMMODITY MARKET: THE UPS AND DOWNS

Like oil and gold, coffee is a commodity. Traded on the stock exchange, and subject to its trademark instability. We don’t like that.

It’s one of the most frequently traded products. And with almost 100 million cups drunk every day in the UK alone, you can see why. As with other commodities, the price per lb rises and falls frequently. Weather conditions, differences in expected crop production, or even traders short selling - these can all affect what coffee is worth.

COFFEE COMMODITY PRICE & FARMERS

Is it fair to be paid under the cost of production? We don’t think so - but that’s an unfortunate result of selling coffee on the stock exchange.

Commodity grade coffee is basic. It’s homogenous, and falsely perpetuating the idea that coffee itself is a flavour. It’s also the result of farmers not having the money, resources, time, or training to grow higher quality crops. And the all-time low price of coffee means that’s self-perpetuating - as they’re not earning enough to cover the cost of even running their farm. So helping farmers escape that cycle is important to us.

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