Business

Coffee prices increase to 34-year high

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There are new signs that the cost of living is going up. First, there was the gas pump, and the grocery store, now higher prices are brewing for coffee lovers as prices hit a 34-year high. It has a lot to do with the world's growing taste for premium coffee.

That double espresso or pound of coffee might as well be gold. It's going up and fast. The price for green coffee beans on the global commodity futures market has hit a 34-year high. Coffee surpassed $3 a pound this week, which is more than double what it was last spring. So why the jump?

It seems there is a perfect storm of reasons. There has been erratic weather and rains that have damaged crops in prime coffee growing regions from Colombia to Kenya and there's also an increased demand from countries like China and India. Add to that a growing taste for premium coffee -- too little good coffee in a world that wants more.

"They constantly increase the price. It's the wholesaler, it's the big guys, so we have to pay. If we don't pay, we don't get any coffee," said Panache Coffe owner Young Yoon.

Yoon owns a coffee shop in Lafayette and has so far resisted passing on the price increase to her customers by using fewer employees, she works behind the counter herself to stay afloat.

"Coffee prices go up and sales are the same, so for small businesses in this economy, it's really hard to survive," said Yoon.

But at the Peet's Coffee across town, supervisor Issac Leong said, "No one's ever happy about the price of coffee going up, but I haven't heard of anyone quitting drinking coffee because of it."

Many in the coffee business think their customers will stay loyal and be willing to pay more for a cup or a pound of premium brew, but it may take a year or two before supply catches up with demand.

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lafayette, gas prices, food, economy, business
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