Coffee, Frost and Prices. What’s really going on right now?

By William “Bill” Murray, NCA President & CEO


Over the past several months, there has been a flood of media coverage taking what seem to me to be increasingly panicked approaches to covering changing coffee prices and what it may mean for coffee consumers. 

As many of us have experienced first-hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities around the globe and put extraordinary strain on the supply chains coffee relies on every day but that rarely see the spotlight. Suppliers of everything from toilet paper to furniture to shipping containers and computer chips have struggled to keep up with dramatic shifts in consumer demand, shortages of certain ingredients and inputs, and skyrocketing prices for transportation — not to mention the pandemic’s impacts on workers, their health, and their workplaces. 

Of course, since coffee is a beloved staple in grocery shopping carts, media reports about potential shortages or price increases generate a lot of questions – and clicks. 

NCA has taken a steady approach throughout, turning first to the data. As NCA reported in our September 2020 report on coffee consumption during the pandemic, COVID-19 has greatly impacted where Americans drink coffee (driving more at-home consumption, unsurprisingly) but had relatively little impact on how much coffee we drink or how often. 

Coffee farm in Minas Gerais, Brazil

In fact, overall coffee demand has been remarkably stable for decades. About 60% of Americans drink coffee every day, more than any other beverage, and that has been the case for at least ten years.  Coffee is a pleasure a part of life – and a habit, and our latest consumer research, which we’ll be releasing in the coming weeks, shows that consumers are gradually returning to the pre-pandemic coffee drinking customs.

Coffee planting, harvesting, and purchasing also tend toward stability. Coffee trees are slow growers, taking several years to reach maturity. Planting and purchasing plans are typically made several years in advance, and coffee can be transported and stored for relatively long periods of time, helping to smooth out peaks and valleys in supply and demand.

Another factor that has cushioned the impact of current stressors on consumers’ coffee experience is that we’ve actually had a surplus of coffee on the global market for many years. That is, until recently farmers grew more coffee than the world drank. That surplus supply kept prices below levels seen in the past. In 2019 the surplus helped lead to global coffee prices decreasing by 15 percent. 

Now, between COVID-19 impacts and the effects of both drought and frost in Brazil – one of the world’s most significant coffee producers – USDA predicts that for the first time since 2015 the world will drink more coffee in the year ahead than farmers will grow in that year. The frost in Brazil, linked to a supply deficit forecast by some, is what has set off new rounds of speculation about prices.

But speculation is just that. Many people are working hard to fully measure and understand the full impact of the extreme weather in Brazil and how to help impacted farmers recover. Estimates so far have ranged widely, with the most recent reports suggesting crop damage is less extensive than had been feared.

From extreme weather to new requirements for health and safety in coffee shops, I’m proud and grateful to say the coffee industry has been remarkably resilient – and remains committed to the future of coffee. Whether through commitments made under Conservation International’s Sustainable Coffee Challenge, individual programs, or the ongoing work of the International Coffee Organization, the industry’s commitment to sustainability — and the farmers who grow coffee — has persevered throughout the pandemic.

Coffee prices are determined by many factors, and the NCA plays no role in their trajectory. Whatever the future holds, we will continue to closely monitor consumption and market data, work to support farmers’ crops and livelihoods, and be a champion for coffee by providing accurate, informed information and insight to help guide us into the future. 

NCA: We Serve Coffee.

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Coffee is good for everyone – and more is better

Coffee Farmer Picking Coffee

With the UN General Assembly kicking off this week in New York and the International Coffee Organization convening in London next week, we’re heading into a busy time for the global coffee community. With all the travel hours ahead of us, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on the hard questions and big opportunities that will shape coffee’s future.

Numerous studies show coffee consumption reduces risk of everything from dementia to heart disease to depression to certain types of cancer.  The science is clear – coffee is good for the people who drink it. This past summer even California joined the side of scientific consensus to recognize coffee’s health benefits.

It’s not just that some coffee is good.  More coffee is better. In fact, research from the National Institute of Health shows that drinking six or seven cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of death from any cause by up to 16 percent. The average American coffee drinker only drinks three cups per day currently, meaning many of us are missing out on coffee’s full potential.

Even better – an extra cup of joe (or five) isn’t just good for the people who drink coffee, it’s good for the people who grow it.

The world currently grows a billion pounds more coffee than we drink.  A study commissioned by the World Coffee Producers Forum confirmed that coffee prices are stable based on current supply, particularly driven by increased efficiency in leading coffee-growing countries.

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What a Cup of Coffee Really Costs

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Gourmet coffee consumption reached over 50 percent for the first time in 2019, according to the NCA 2019 Coffee Data Trends Report

The price of a pound of coffee beans may be dropping fast, but that doesn’t mean consumers will get a break on the cost of their morning brew.

Edited excerpt – read the full post at MarketWatch

By Jeanette Settembre


A pound of wholesale arabica coffee beans has been selling for under $1 since March, the lowest price point in more than a decade. One pound of ground coffee will make about 48 cups.

But experts say consumers will still be paying the same price for a cup of coffee or latte in stores and cafes. While wholesale coffee prices have been dropping, coffee prices for consumers have actually been going up.

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Boom Time for the Brazilian Coffee Industry

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Signs show that 2019 will bring even better results.

By William (Bill) Murray
President & CEO, National Coffee Association


The Brazilian coffee industry is flourishing.

The latest update from the Brazilian Coffee Exports Council (CECAFE) indicated 2018 was another bumper year for the largest producer and exporter of coffee in the world. “Statistics show that Brazil maintained its world leadership position and signs are that 2019 will bring even better results,” said Nelson Carvalhaes, Chairman of the Brazilian Exporters Coffee Council.

CECAFE’s recent update is full of interesting trends and statistics for coffee producers, connoisseurs, and consumers alike. And given Brazil’s scale in the global coffee market, updates from CECAFE always act as a useful barometer on the health of our industry overall.

Let’s take a look at the top four key takeaways:

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Infographic: Coffee Brands See Stellar Growth in Amazon Sales

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Amazon’s food and beverage category has posted $4.75 billion in sales so far in 2018, making it the online retailer’s fastest growing segment, according to Automatic Vending watch.

And coffee continues to lead category. According to Edge Market Share, coffee sales on Amazon have totaled more than $140 million so far this year – and are expected to increase.

If the first wave of coffee was defined as having packaged coffee available in the home in packaged formats, the fourth wave may be the idea of having premium coffee available everywhere, all the time.

“It all begins with the coffee shop,” says Michael Schaefer, Euromonitor, in Food Navigator USA.

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World Coffee Market and Trade: 2018/19 Forecast Overview

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World coffee production for 2018/19 is forecast 11.4 million bags higher than the previous year at a record 171.2 million primarily due to Brazil’s record output, according to the USDA’s “Coffee: World Markets and Trade” report, published June 2018.

With global consumption forecast at a record 163.2 million bags, exports are expected up in response to strong demand. Ending stocks are forecast to rebound following 3 years of decline.

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Why the Latest Prop 65 Ruling is Bad for Coffee Farmers

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Coffee is both delicious and healthy.”

California’s Misguided Labeling Decision Impacts Coffee Growers & Drinkers

This post was originally published on the Global Farmer Network

By Luiz Roberto Saldanha Rodrigues

When a Los Angeles judge earlier this month finalized a ruling that coffee sold in California must carry cancer warning labels, many California residents may not have paid much attention to yet another labeling requirement.   

Ever since voters passed Proposition 65 more than 30 years ago, after all, Californians have watched the steady proliferation of vague statements about chemicals, cancer, and birth defects. They appear almost everywhere, from the windows of hardware stores to signs at Disneyland. They’re so abundant that Amazon even sells them as stickers in rolls of 500.  

Many people have begun to ignore these labels because they’re so common and because the information they convey is almost useless.  

So why am I  concerned if they now also show up on coffee?

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How Many People in the United States Drink Specialty Coffee?

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2017 U.S. Specialty Coffee Consumption Trends Infographic

The full version of the following post was first published on SCA News

By Heather Ward

Specialty coffee consumption in the U.S. is growing, and 2017 saw a significant increase in daily specialty coffee drinkers.

Over the last 18 years, the number of daily specialty coffee drinkers has consistently increased, strengthening the consumer demand for specialty coffee.

Let’s take a closer look at the data.

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Reframing the Narrative on Coffee Production ROI

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A coffee farmer inspects his crop in Colombia. Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT) – via Wikimedia

Perspectives on the New SCA Report On Farm Profitability

In an article published on Daily Coffee News, Kraig Kraft from CRS Coffeelands addressed the Specialty Coffee Association’s recently released report that reviewed existing public information about farm profitability and costs.

The main — and surprising — conclusion from the analysis is that farm yield is not correlated to farm income. On the surface, this seems somewhat paradoxical.

Why wouldn’t higher production lead to more income?

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Border Adjustment Tax Dropped

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The following post is from the latest NCA Member Alert

On Thursday, Republican leaders announced that the controversial border adjustment provision, which threatened to saddle coffee imports with duties that could have added as much as 20% to declared values, has been dropped from the proposed tax plan.

“While we have debated the pro-growth benefits of border adjustability, we appreciate that there are many unknowns associated with it and have decided to set this policy aside in order to advance tax reform,” House, Senate and White House leaders working on a tax plan said in a joint statement Thursday, CNBC News reports.

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