Coffee drinkers: a bag of beans won't break your budget
Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -
It seems good news is brewing for coffee drinkers: our favorite morning pick-me-up will likely not be picking up in price any time soon.
A plentiful 2013 coffee bean harvest has put the commodity's trading price at a steady, low price. That stands in contrast to late 2010, when the price of coffee hit a 13-year high. Coffee's recent low was in November, at just over a dollar per pound. While that price has increased since then, it remains relatively low, right around $1.20 per pound, compared to over $3.00 in late 2010.
If you're like many Americans, including this reporter, your morning java fuels your day.
Some people like it with a lot of cream and sugar, but cousins Eric and Michael Gantz take theirs black.
"It's the only way," Michael Gantz said, standing in a warehouse filled with 30,000 pounds of raw coffee beans in burlap sacks and various pieces of equipment for roasting and packaging coffee.
The two started Dubuque company Verena Street Coffee in late 2010, when coffee's base trading price was on its way up to the 13-year high.
"We'd already gone too far to stop, and then we watched it go all the way to the high point," Eric Gantz said. "Obviously, since then, it's come down."
The price break came as a welcome relief to roasters and consumers alike.
"It's definitely a roller-coaster of a ride," Michael Gantz said. "It seems to have kind of flattened out as of late."
He said he predicts prices will stay low for at least the next year.
Eric Gantz said, like any commodity, price competition often favors the consumer.
"Sometimes, when the price is really high, maybe our margins get squeezed lower. And sometimes, when the price is low, our margin is a little better," he said. "It all kind of balances out, so you need to follow the waves of, 'Where's everybody else - all the competition - on price?'"
At Jitterz Coffee and Cafe in Dubuque, customer Josie Martin said she prefers the sweet coffee drinks.
"I drink, like, frappacinos and white chocolate mocha lattes," Martin said.
Her mom Jeana Martin, on the other hand, usually brews coffee at home. She said while low prices are nice, an increase wouldn't keep her away.
"I would still purchase it because I'm using it mainly to wake up, and I feel like I'm buying the cheaper stuff, so it probably wouldn't stop me from doing it," Martin said.
If consumers see any fluctuation in bean prices, it would likely show up at the grocery store, since many coffee shops generally like to keep their per-cup prices pretty steady.
Jitterz's manager William Henson said that's certainly the case at his coffee shop.
"As far as the consumer end, I don't really think they see too much of an increase in the cost of what they're paying when it comes to coffee prices going up and down," Henson said.
Low coffee costs may be good for the consumer, but it's not always great for the grower. A "Fair Trade" or "Rainforest Alliance Certified" stamp on coffee, however, means farmers who produced those coffee beans are still making a fair price for their crop, even when the commodity's trading price is low.
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