It turns out coffee growing countries only receive about 8% of the total coffee revenue annually and Germany is actually the fourth largest exporter of coffee in the world, despite never growing a single bean.
Schoolyard bullying, on a global scale.
As someone who has roasted my own coffee for 20 years, I'm confused about what you're saying. What are these "raw beans" that the Ethopians are forced to export?
I do buy green coffee beans from Ethopia, and have about 25 pounds of Ethopian at home right now. Are these the raw beans you're talking about? I certainly wouldn't want to buy coffee that was roasted in Ethopia; it would be awfully stale by the time it gets here.
I mostly buy dry process beans, occasionally wet process. I've just never heard the term "raw beans". Are you talking about raw unprocessed coffee cherry? I didn't know anyone exports those as is. I thought they would go bad in shipping, and no one would buy them. And the sheer bulk and weight of raw coffee cherry should make it more economical to do a dry process or wet process at the source, to separate the valuable beans from the husk.
I do buy a lot of my green beans from Sweet Maria's. They have a Farm Gate program where they work directly with coffee growers to make sure they get a fair price - generally more than the "Fair Trade" pricing.
If you can help educate me on what I'm missing here, I would appreciate it - thanks!
> coffee growing countries only receive about 8% of the total coffee revenue
If we look at the price of, for example, white flour from the supermarket, it should be immediately obvious that grain farmers are receiving some tiny fraction of the total net value of all baked-goods / pasta / pizza / etc sold annually.
It’s not immediately obvious that this is bad or unfair.
It's equivalent to saying the oil producing companies only get x% of global car sales. Simply, ridiculous statement.
Please don't do that here. This is in the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. Your comment would be just fine without that bit (and the final bit).
Cars are not really made of oil, gasoline is. And this was probably not the best of examples. In most oil companies extraction/exploration (raw material) and refining (processed product) actually split the profits pretty evenly, all things considered. Marketing (gas stations) gets pretty much the breadcrumbs and relies for profit more on selling Coke and sandwiches than actual gas.
This is unlike most other cases where the raw materials are worth far less than the processed ones, and the bulk of the profit goes to the final manufacturer rather than the raw material exporter.
Seriously - the great increase in wheat prices brings it to 8 cents per pound in the US.
And my avocado whole wheat toast still costs $10-15 with taxes and tip.
But if Germany is the 4th largest exporter in the world as the parent comment said, apparently plenty of people have no problem buying stale coffee from them.
This sounds like a warehousing and shipping operation to me. Calling Germany an exporter seems like calling an Amazon fulfillment center a "manufacturer" of the products they ship to customers. Or calling Sweet Maria's or Coffee Bean Corral or Happy Mug coffee "growers".
But maybe I don't understand the terminology, and I am definitely out of the loop on mass market coffee.
Actually, Tom of Sweet Maria's did try to grow his own coffee here in California, with hilarious results. Behold, Finca West Oakland:
What might be confusing is Germany also re-exports green beans to other countries, at a markup. This is a much smaller % compared to the coffee products they export.
Does this clarify things?
I'm not sure many people are air-shipping coffee for freshness, but Germany could easily provide 'fresh' roasted coffee for anywhere in Europe.
Couldn't they process and export instant coffee without any problem?
People who want instant coffee?
> You do not go for high quality Ethiopian beans to then make instant coffee…
Ok... can you use the lower quality ones?
What do you mean? Coffee gets vacuum packed and shipped all over the world already. I must have some coffee at home that was roasted and ground months ago - how is that a problem? It's just coffee.
This is the play: hide the profound injustice in an offhand quip. If exporting from Germany is not a problem, why not Ethiopia?
Though, I suspect what would happen is that coffee roasted in Ethiopia would be somehow worth less than German-roasted. Ethiopians would recoup some of the profit that they're missing, but other ways would be found to shortchange them. The root of the issue is he undervaluation of Ethiopian labor and resources so as to secure profit and affordability further down the line.
If it was ever done, it would cost 5x or 10x more, thanks to the heavy sanctions placed on processed coffee exported from Ethiopia, but not from Germany.
As another example, I saw endless fields of palm and cocoa plantations all through West Africa. Famously Japan allows imports of raw cocoa with a 0\% tax, though they tax finished chocolate products at over 280\%. This means Africa will never
be able to sell processed cocoa products there, and are forced to be content selling raw beans for a tiny fraction of what they could be sold for if processed.
Most coffee consumers are not relying on locally/home roasted beans. They buy instant, or pre-ground for use in a drip. Ethiopia is missing out on that part of the market.
Buying single-origin, and accepting the instability that comes with it, by necessity requires microbranding.
"I became friends with an Oromo family that had to flee from Ethiopia. They were from a region close to the city Jimma in southwestern Ethiopia, the cradle of coffee. Their land and coffee plantations were taken from them and the husband and his friends were jailed when they protested[...] But of course, the coffee we consume everyday and without which ‘we can’t survive’ has to be produced somewhere…"
Further, 8% of what, exactly? I bet tree farms get only a small percentage of the revenue of printer paper or cardboard boxes. Without this being defined, your comment kinda becomes meaningless. With a definition, it would clarify your comment for many.
 - http://www.intracen.org/coffee-guide/the-markets-for-coffee/...
 - https://apps.fas.usda.gov/newgainapi/api/report/downloadrepo...
So they grow heroin instead haha!
The US and Canada do not. (I was really expecting to see that the US and Canada did) As a result, I'm able to buy custom roasted and custom packaged at the farm beans and get them on the shelf in the US in a few days. Local roasters have zero real advantage, other than appeal to the enthusiast and perhaps some "secret process" that gives a unique taste to their product.
That's not zero, but it doesn't sound extremely restrictive either.
This is a common issue in a lot of developing countries - and also makes investment harder because it can be very difficult to get your foreign currency profits out (elites only want to buy at fake low rate - if they had to sell at it they'd lose their profit).
It's an article: that is not its purpose. How much can you say on the multi-century history of a topic in a few hundred words?
Maybe try the book referenced, or the may dozens of other hundred books written on the topic.
This is enraging.
Please do share any articles/data/documentaries so that people can know what really is going on with this multi-billion dollar industry.
Ironically, my company does have a number of fitness facilities on campus and it is entirely kosher to take an hour plus break each day to workout, i.e., engage in physical labor.
(of course all it was pre-covid outbreak, now everyone work remotely)
Life imitates art.
Salary vs. hourly doesn't determine exempt vs. non exempt status, technically, but in practice it becomes that
"Climate scientists estimate that at least half of the acreage now producing coffee—and an even greater proportion in Latin America—will be unable to support the plant by 2050, making coffee one of the crops most immediately endangered by climate change."
If climate change makes these (already harsh) mountainous regions indispensable to the coffee shrubs, then we may be forced to grow coffee in lowland regions where the quality will not be as good.
Also, 'he,' not 'they.' :-)
Edit: I don't buy that a $60 dollar grinder will get you 80% of the way. The output of such cheap grinders that I have seen have very poor consistency. You're looking at low hundreds to get anything decent and even then you will have very clear differences when matched against a top end grinder.
Is a used Baratza Encore much more expensive than that? A new one is US$ 140:
Obviously espresso is completely different, and agreed, you'd have to be at the mid-hundreds to get to a barely good-enough starting point.
That said, I prefer to buy grinded coffee. It's not perfect, but miles ahead of instant coffee. That's perfect combination of time/price/taste for me.
This is because most American's don't have a kettle (at home or work). I think quite a few Europeans do.
It's also why so many (baking) recipes in the US measure (e.g.) flour in cups/volume: most people don't have scales.
It's similar to coffee (93°C)
I honestly don't know how they make it so bad, here in Europe even if I bought the cheapest box of supermarket tea (around 50c for 20 bags) and dunked it in a cup of warm water for 10 seconds it would taste better.
I do like certain types of those gourmet teas where you need a kettle for them. They're great, but I like something warm and I can have it everyday, especially in winter. I simply could not afford that with the teas.
For coffee, I pour hot water over my ground coffee until the pot underneath is full of coffee.
You have so many variations of brewing like pourover, drip, french press, espresso etc. and each of these methods has a ton of individual variables that affect the final product ranging such as water temp, bean freshness, grind coarseness and much more.
I am certainly not a coffee expert (I'm too lazy to actually dive into the world of craft coffee I just drink the free coffee at work) but I do enjoy espresso when I am out and love reading about coffee/brewing
I'm a fan of tea, ignorant about coffee.
Tea brewing generally has three variables: amount/proportion of leaves/water, water temperature, brewing time. With coffee, those three are still applicable. And there's a fourth variable: how finely one grinds it, and perhaps a fifth one: whether/what pressure to apply while brewing.
I usually don't even rinse oolongs/greens and it's fine. If you don't rinse your puerh, the first brew is just going to taste like a rinse. No big deal - enjoy the subsequent brews :)
Heck, you could do a lot worse than picking up anything by Salgado...
"That chemical of course is caffeine, which is now the world’s most popular psychoactive drug, used daily by 80 percent of humanity. (It is the only such drug we routinely give to our children, in the form of soda.)"
Or, as it's also known, "1 gram".
Caffeine is a stimulant drug that you cannot give pregnant women more than a cup a day and it gives you physical withdrawals if you try to quit.
edit: edited due to nitpicking.
Lots of things that are addictive or considered a drug can be safe in moderation.
>Caffeine is a stimulant drug that you cannot give pregnant women at all and it gives you physical withdrawals if you try to quit.
Well that's just not true and I'd caution you to not speak in absolutes. Pregnant women can have finite amounts of caffeine. We just had our first child and my wife's doctor cleared her to have a cup a day during her pregnancy. A cup a day is, as far as I can tell, commonly considered OK.
"Current guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other experts say that it's safe for pregnant women to consume up to 200 milligrams of caffeine a day, or around one daily 12-ounce cup of coffee."
> Avoiding caffeine as much as possible is your safest course of action. If you must get your fix, it is best to discuss this with your healthcare provider to make the healthiest choice for you and your baby.
If caffeine isn't so addictive then it should be no problem to give it up for pregnancy :)
Caffeine crosses the placenta to your baby which cannot metabolize it. There are numerous studies of how caffeine causes birth defects. I'll change my absolute but it doesn't really deter from my point that caffeine can be harmful drug in some scenarios (pregnancy) even when drinking it moderately (2-3 cups a day).
And I've definitely experienced sugar withdrawals that felt physical when I reduced my refined sugar intake. Could those have been psychological, but just felt physical? Psychosomatic - is that the right word?
Depends on a lot of things, what type of sugar, the amount, your metabolism, your age, etc.
Caffeine and cocaine are also natural plant products but they are habit-forming stimulant drugs found in much smaller concentrations of the "medicinal" crop compared to the plant sugars found in the commercial sweetener food crops like beets, sugar cane, and maple.
Pure chemicals have concentrated properties that can be much more extreme than their low-concentration behavior.
Drugs or not.
Crystals are among the big three physical forms for pure chemicals; solid, liquid, and gas.
It has been well recognized that habitual consumption of these example substances beyond a certain concentration will lead to negative outcomes according to the individual, the substance, and the habit.
Those migraines you mentioned are one of many terrible withdraw symptoms.
It is the only drug I truly have been unable to quit. Despite weeks of being off of it, I always relapse after the cravings get too much.
It was easier to quit cigs for me than it is to stop drinking coffee. If it's a stimulant it's going to be very hard to quit.
The only reason it's not considered an addiction by experts is because you don't destroy your life when you run out, BECAUSE IT'S EVERYWHERE and super accepted (you can do it at work), also because I assume $$$.
So it's sort of like mobile/social media addiction but worse because it's more acceptable and it has physical withdrawal/cravings.
Now I'm going to go have a coffee because I have a headache and I'm irritated.
The fact that it isn't bad for you doesn't make addiction a bad thing. It's when addiction consumes your life and you forgo the good things in life that it becomes bad.
I didn't say it would consume your life and make you forgo the good things.
The only reason it's not characterized by these "modern addiction specialists", whatever that is, is because of both $$$ and how socially acceptable it is.
Since you can get your caffeine fix in anyway for really cheap (or not so cheap if you want) and you can drink it at work without any weird looks it doesn't destroy your social life.
Just because it doesn't destroy your social life doesn't mean it's not addictive, but I guess that's just the layman in me.
As a sort of meta point, every time I use the phrase "modern addiction specialist" in a thread somebody responds expressing skepticism that such a thing exists or that the definition of addiction I've provided reflects consensus opinion. This is...weird. The American Psychiatric Association leads their "What is Addiction?" page with the following text:
"Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence."
Don't talk to me until I've eaten this mug.
Otherwise, why does it matter if the category of "drugs" includes coffee?
Government forcing people off their own lands is nationalization, which is literally the opposite of privatization.
It's better on a production level simply because the focus is for people to exclusively work on that as opposed to people living the complex life of a farmer. Instead of 100 peasants being marginal jack of all trades, you have maybe 50 be somewhat better at a select few tasks.