Cheap Coffee Is Getting Pricier

A drought in Brazil has affected the robusta coffee bean supply and driven up instant coffee prices.

Photo by: ericdelmar@ ©Eric Delmar

ericdelmar@, Eric Delmar

We all expect fancy barista-made coffee drinks to set us back a few bucks, but soon even a cup of inexpensive instant coffee — your Folgers, your Maxwell House, etc. — may feel like a splurge.

A drought in Brazil has adversely affected the supply of robusta coffee beans — the kind used for many instant and packaged coffees — and driven up prices.

Due to a lack of rain in Espirito Santo, the southeastern Brazilian state where most of the country’s robusta is grown, the nation’s robusta bean crops have dwindled to their smallest in a decade and prices in London are zeroing in on a four-year high, Bloomberg reports. That, in turn, has elevated the demand for arabica beans, reduced inventory and driven up the futures for those as well.

What’s that, you say? Surely we can get our robusta beans from other places and preserve our access to our cheap cup of joe? Actually, the supply of robusta coffee beans from Vietnam is down because of too much rain, and Indonesia isn’t producing much either, according to Bloomberg. And even though arabica bean growers have not been affected by adverse weather conditions, the robusta shortage has driven up demand and reduced supply of those beans.

The supply challenges have directly affected the retail cost of packaged coffee, with J.M. Smucker Co., Folgers’ parent company, raising prices of its United States coffee products by an average of 6 percent.

Time to switch to tea?

Photo: iStock

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