Why is Specialty Coffee so expensive?

Coffee is a Commodity

Coffee has traditionally been viewed as just a commodity, like corn, sugar and wheat.

In fact, it’s the second most traded commodity in the world, you can go look at the current price of green coffee per pound on the New York Stock Exchange right now. So why does coffee cost $12-20 a bag when it trades at a $1.65/lb USD? Well, it’s important to differentiate Commodity Coffee from Specialty Coffee.


Specialty represents the top 4% of the entire market regarding control, ethics, sustainability and taste. It is graded and certified after every harvest by Q-Graders, which are akin to wine sommeliers in coffee, that must award it a score of 80 points or higher.


Beyond quality control, specialty coffee represents better compensation for farmers who are provided a price above commodity or a fixed premium in return for better tasting coffees.


The higher finished price encompasses more than just a better raw product, it also includes a systematic approach to better flavour, through evidence-based farming, sourcing, transport, roasting and brewing.

It’s the same reason why most people are willing to pay more for a well-crafted latte that uses fresh ingredients from a talented barista.

Accumulated Value

It’s the pursuit of excellence from the beginning to the end of the value chain, an accumulation of expertise that results in a better final cup.

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