What's the Deal with Coffee Prices?

Counter Culture Coffee logo

Coffee is much in the news these days. Or, should I say, the business of coffee is much in the business news these days. Last week's Sunday NY Times Business Section featured an article on Starbucks' founder and CEO and how he is bringing the company back to its core produce - coffee. Not fancy, pumped-up fruit-flavored drinks, but coffee, a bean grown on bushes under shade trees in tropical climates.
At Wine & Words, we've always been into great coffee. We used to carry coffees from Vermont's Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. They were all about organic, Fair Trade, great coffee brewing. Then they became a big corporate entity. The communications I got from them were less about coffee and more about "increasing market share" and "great point-of-sale promotions."
Well, call me old fashioned, but I'm still a small business American who roots for the little guy. We switched our coffee purchases to Durham's Counter Culture Coffee, a group of people who unabashedly admit that they're "Coffee Driven." We carry (and serve at Back Bay Cafe) a small range of great seasonal coffees from Counter Culture. They're all Fair Trade, which means that the folks who grow and handle the beans get your coffee dollar, not the speculators and traders on the international coffee market (dominated by Nestle's). Fair Trade communities use their money to build schools for their villages...and water systems and decent housing. It's a fair deal. We get great coffee...they make a living.
This month, in addition to information about the Monthly Featured Coffee - Buziraguhindwa from Kayanza, Burundi - was this cool cartoon slide show called "So What's the Deal with the Coffee Market?" It's all about how global warming, development pressure and investor speculation are colluding to drive coffee prices up. Counter Culture's Director of Coffee Peter Giuliano shows how all these forces may be a good thing for people who love truly great premium coffee. That's because as prices rise for cheaper grade commodity coffee, consumers may say that it's worth the price to pay a little more for premium coffee that's grown in traditional ways and supports local small businesses. We've been saying it for years. If you care about great coffee (and about the people who grow it and the land it's grown on), come by Wine & Words for some brown gold from Counter Culture Coffee Roasters.