Coffee is undoubtedly one of the most popular beverages in the world. Many people from all age brackets can’t kick-start their day without this dose of caffeine. It has become so incorporated in the western world that coffee breaks are now becoming part of a workplace schedule, and meeting at a coffee place is just so natural.
Unfortunately, despite the popularity and wide acceptance of coffee by both young and old, it is still a costly luxury item, especially the beans. Are coffee bean prices justified? Or are coffee companies just taking advantage of people’s undying need for this beverage?
This article shall delve into why coffee beans are expensive, so let’s break it down!
If you’re new to the coffee scene, let’s take it from here. A coffee bean is a seed of cherry, a coffee plant’s fruit. We get our dear coffee from this cherry fruit.
There are different types of coffee beans that come from various coffee plants. However, the most common coffee beans are;
Arabica coffee beans originated from Ethiopia. They are the most sought-after beans and are still grown in Ethiopia. Arabica beans make up 60% of the world’s coffee production.
They are well known for their sweetness, smoothness and complex flavour. They are fragile and need large amounts of rain to grow correctly.
Arabica coffee beans require more attention than other bean types, as they are prone to fungal diseases.
Robusta coffee beans are the second most popular beans in the world. As the name implies, it is more “robust” than Arabica. Robusta is healthy and less likely to be infected. They also have almost twice the amount of caffeine in Arabica. To top that, Robusta can be grown in many different environments successfully.
Why then is it not the first in the world?
Robusta beans are less appreciated than Arabica because of their flavour. Robusta beans have a darker, earthier flavour to be used in darker roasts at their best.
Originally from West Africa but now primarily grown in the Philippines and Malaysia, Liberica has an exciting flavour called “woody.” It has quite a polarising reputation. You may try it and love it wholeheartedly or entirely hate it.
Liberica bean trees are irregularly shaped, and they grow tall. Their current low level of cultivation has rendered them an endangered species of coffee.
Although having so many similar attributes to Liberica, Excelsa beans have a fruitier flavour and makeup about 7% of the world’s coffee.
This product of Southeast Asia has an intriguing trait of both dark and light coffee roasts.
Excelsa beans are often added to Robusta and Arabica beans to create more complexity.
Why is Coffee Bean so Expensive?
Coffee getting expensive hinges on a lot of things. Some of the significant factors that contribute to the high price of coffee beans are;
1. Rigorous Growing Process
One of the reasons coffee beans are expensive is their growing process. An average coffee plant takes approximately 3-4years from the period it was planted to be mature and bear fruits; some even take 5years.
For those years, farmers have to be vigilant to prevent all forms of plant diseases and pests that may stunt or kill the coffee plant’s growth. They also have to ensure each plant produces as many fruits as possible.
2. Time-Consuming Harvest
Harvesting coffee beans take a lot of time and are also expensive. When it’s time to harvest, farmers take several steps to achieve their goals. The type of method used for harvesting also has an impact on coffee beans’ price.
Ways of Harvesting Coffee Beans
- Strip harvesting
- Selective picking
- Mechanical harvesting
Prices are also affected by how often a farmer can harvest every year. A few times, when the climate is favourable, there may be two harvests in a year. However, a one-time yearly yield is the most common, contributing to pricing.
3. Processing and Roasting
After harvesting, coffee beans go through processing and roasting. Different coffee processing methods also influence market pricing. Of the two standard ways of processing, wet and dry methods, damp processing is more expensive.
Wet processing requires machines and multiple steps, which means a higher price.
After processing, roasting takes place. A bean may be grown and harvested excellently, but if it ends up with a bad or poorly trained roaster, the value will automatically reduce. Skilled roasters charge high for their services because they know how much effort and time they put into the perfection of each bean. It also contributes to the high price of beans in the market.
One of the most dangerous enemies of coffee beans is moisture. Moisture can easily damage coffee beans if not adequately packaged.
Coffee beans transported overseas are often in jute bags. These bags are eco-friendly, keeping beans fresh and free from spoilage before arriving.
In recent times, a lot of coffee producers now use plastic sacks as well to save costs. Whichever packaging they choose, it must be perfect not to frustrate their efforts. It is another determinant of coffee beans’ price in the market.
Weather also affects the price of coffee beans in the market. Climate change and weather variations breed pests, fungi and plant diseases which affect farm produce.
Arabica beans particularly can’t stand the test of dramatic climate. And these are the beans that makeup about 60% of the world’s coffee beans.
For a dramatic climate change, expect higher prices of coffee beans.
FAQs About Why Coffee Beans are Expensive
Are Expensive Beans Worth It?
Like every other thing, getting the best coffee often requires higher prices. However, once you know the worth of what you are getting, and you are sure it is the best, the price is nothing.
Why are Some Coffee Beans More Expensive than Others?
From the origin, planting and harvesting process, all coffee beans are not the same. Coffee grading is crucial to buyers because quality and taste are never the same. Coffee bean buyers know the difference in what they buy and would pay more to get what they want than buy another type for less.
Why are Coffee Beans More Expensive than the Ground?
If you are an adventurous coffee lover that has bought coffee beans and ground them for use, you will know coffee beans are far better.
You can’t hide a coffee bean defect; if it’s a good one, you’ll know at a glance. It’s not the same when it’s ground. Also, aroma and flavour in grounds are often lost, unlike when they are still whole.
Simply put, coffee beans make better coffee than the ground.
Do you Get More Coffee With Whole Beans or Ground?
No, you don’t. If you measure a cup of whole beans, ground it, and measure again, you’ll still have a cup. So, there’s no difference.
Why is Coffee so Expensive Right Now?
Coffee’s quality has changed. As coffee became popular, the demand for higher-quality coffee also increased. As the rate and flavour of coffee increased, the cost also increased.
An old lover of coffee would know that what seemed like sludge in a cup back then isn’t what we are getting now.
Try not to have a panic attack each time you see the price tag on coffee beans. Trust me; it is worth every single penny. Picking it up from the farmers’ hard work to produce, harvest, roast and process, as well as unforeseen circumstances that may spoil their yields. All these incur more money to give you the best. So, next time you get your coffee beans, and they are lovely, make sure to shine a smile at the seller because you are getting your money’s worth in return.