Even the folks at the Wall Street Journal have noticed that coffee quality has hit a new low. Low prices and huge coffee stockpiles, largely fueled by the glut of low-grown Vietnamese robusta, have dealt a one-two punch to growers of specialty-grade beans… especially the family fincas and tiny cooperatives that produce the best of the world’s arabica beans. Many growers of high-quality beans have no choice but to walk away from land they’ve cultivated for generations; the costs of harvesting their coffee cherries are higher than the prices they can fetch at market.
Some origins are taking bold steps to curtail the oversupply… consider Mexico, which recently ground nearly 8.5 million pounds of coffee into fertilizer. Meanwhile, coffee’s corporate behemoths face the future with their eyes wide shut, by relying increasingly on the lowest of the low grades, and — unbelievably — raising their prices even as the coffee futures market continues to stagnate.
So, what’s in your cup?