It seems that coffee in Australia is only getting more and more expensive, unnecessarily!Yet, you may not realise it, but a small portion of the money that you pay for your morning flat white goes to a coffee farming family at origin. To emphasise how important coffee production can be to these farming families and the general economies of the countries that they reside in, let’s consider coffee farming and green coffee export in Colombia.
Colombia is the world’s largest producer of the arabica bean. It is the world’s third largest producer of coffee beans (behind Brazil and Vietnam - but these countries focus on “commodity coffee” rather than specialty coffee). It has an average annual coffee production of 11.5 million bags. If we estimate that each bag is around 60 kg, then that means that Colombia is exporting 690 million kilograms of green coffee! That is a huge amount when you consider that a lot of coffee is hand picked, because the process of harvesting coffee cherries with a machine can really only be done on flat farming land. Colombia could be considered a mountainous country.
Coffee is an enormously important aspect of the Colombian economy. For example, there are 500,000 families that rely on farming and producing coffee. Over 2 million Colombians depend on coffee production for their income.
Interestingly, the coffee production industry in Colombia has great endurance. It has survived despite the civil war in the country.
Now that you are aware of the extent to which Colombian families and farmers depend on your desire for coffee, let’s address the elephant in the room:
Is the coffee in Australia too expensive?
Here in Australia, you may complain that your $4.10 large flatwhite is too expensive. However, it is actually likely too cheap! Think about it: production labour is expensive. Often, the coffee that you are drinking is specialty coffee, meaning that the best coffee cherries are selected by hand. The coffee cherry cannot be too ripe or under-ripe. They have to be the perfect colour of red. The coffee cherries are then sorted in various processes and need to be stored. They also needed to be continually taste-tested for quality assurance purposes. Farmers do not simply grow a coffee tree, and then harvest and ship the coffee beans in the same way that you could for wheat, for example. There is an intensive aspect of coffee farming that requires labour-by-hand and extensive quality testing.
The above only accounts for production cost. The coffee still needs to be imported and quality tested again by green coffee traders. It then needs to be quality tested by roasters, who then roast the green coffee. After this process, the coffee is sold to your local cafe, who has to pay for their often very expensive coffee machines to produce your one cup of coffee.
A lot goes into your morning flatwhite, and millions of people are dependent upon it for a living.
If you do not like the concept of spending large amounts of money on your morning coffee at a cafe everyday, you are welcome to try to brew some coffee at home. We have an extensive variety of coffee available for you to choose from to brew at home. Just simply check out Coffee Curators