The High Cost of Cheap Coffee
$8 for a kilo of coffee sounds like a pretty great bargain right! Wrong…Cheap Coffee has a high price. But in a market where products are increasingly cheaper, it’s important to understand the impact of your purchases.
Coffee farmers are often not in the industry by choice. Farmers are frequently trading for reasons like lack of available work, inheritance or limited access to fair wages. But when you purchase coffee for $8 at the supermarket, it translates through the value chain. As a result, you see a farmer struggling feed their family. We’ve all heard terms like “fair trade”, “ethically sourced” and “sustainably sourced”, but the meaning behind these values is often overlooked by consumers buying on convenience. You may not be able to buy ethically sourced coffee at the supermarket, but WHY should you purchase from your local roaster? Firstly, let’s go over the stages required to bring coffee to your cup.
Before your coffee even arrives in Australia, there are 6 stages the farmer must go through
1. Planting the coffee seeds where they are watered, shaded and fed. It can take up to 4 years for coffee trees to start producing cherries.
2. Harvesting the cherries. Harvesting occurs once or twice a year, often by hand in a very labour-intensive period.
3. Processing. To prevent wastage, cherries must be processed quickly before drying. Cherries are processed through the wet or dry method. But this process can take up to 3 weeks of hard labour.
4. Bean drying.
5. Sorting. Beans are sorted into different grades and this is a timely job often by hand.
6. Exporting. Exporting is a costly exercise, from packing the beans, organizing freight and paying export costs like duties and tariffs.
It takes an average of 6 kilos of cherries, to make 1 kilo of coffee beans.
Secondly, let’s re-evaluate $8 kilos of coffee. $8 less the average 30% mark-up is $5.60. Imagine distributing $5.60 over the 6 steps above. Now consider the transport costs to roasters who then distribute to places like stores, wholesalers and coffee shops. How much, in this instance is actually going to the farmer? Now you should understand why buying cheap coffee has a cost so high, it can’t be a great bargain.
Thirdly, let’s see what YOU can do to help. Purchasing ethically sourced and priced coffee directly translates to the farmers quality of life, like whether or not their kids can go to school. Or like whether they can eat dinner!
But there’s GOOD news! There are plenty of fantastic coffee roasters in Australia who pride themselves on buying sustainably sourced coffee at ethical prices. In conclusion, many Australian roasters purchase from co-operatives and ensure farmers receive a fair wage. We work with these roasters to supply ethically sourced coffee, with nation-wide shipping available. We have a HUGE selection of coffee and an expert team who can help you find the perfect coffee to match your tastes!
Therefore, the decisions you make when purchasing coffee make a HUGE difference to the farmers quality of life.
Our range of coffee is available here. We are proud to support roasters like Mahalia, Paradox and Mocopan.