Questions and Myths
Why are coffee farmers living in poverty if the sector generates $100 billion per year?
Any real value in coffee production is only generated at the roasting stage, unfortunately farming communities are removed from the supply chain immediately before this point.
Despite roasting facilities being widely available across the whole of the global coffee belt farmers are instead paid the far lower green (unroasted) coffee prices and the profits thereafter are realised in consumer countries.
How are profits typically distributed within current coffee supply lines?
A typical transaction looks something like this:
The farmer typicallyreceives $1.40 per pound for speciality grade coffee ($3.08 per kilo). This doesn't include the FAIRTRADE premium of 44c per kilo where applicable, (correct as of 13th June 2020 https://www.fairtrade.net/standard/minimum-price-info).
After roasting coffee the average price for roasted specialty coffees at the end of March 2020 was $25.36 per pound ($55,79 per kilo). This breaks down into an average of $17.61 per pound ($38.74 per kilo) for the lowest-priced coffees, and $33.12 ($72.86 per kilo) for the highest-priced coffees. (figures taken from the The Specialty Coffee Retail Price Index (SCRPI) 13th June 2020. http://www.transparenttradecoffee.org/scrpi
Profits after roasting of up to $69.78 per kilo after the farmer has received $3.08 per kilo. just $3.52 per kilo including the FAIRTRADE premium of 44c per kilo.
These profits are realised in consumer countries rather than in the developing world where the majority of coffee is grown.
$3.08 per kilo paid to the farmer, $3.52 with the FAIRTRADE premium, the same coffee then sold by roasters in consumer countries for up to $72.86 per kilo.
We believe that the FAIRTRADE premium of 44c per kilo is step in the right direction, however, with profits of up to $69,78 per kilo, all realised in consumer countries, as coffee farming communities in developing countries more often than not fight abject poverty, much more could and should be done to distribute these huge profits in a more equitable manner.
SDG 1, end poverty in all it's fforms everywhere will not be achieved whilst these profits are diverted to consumer countries.
Is freshness an issue when roasting at source? This is the objection raised as to why coffee farming communities in the developing world should not receive more of the profits generated at the roasting stage.
We'll leave you to draw your own conclusions, a quick scan of prominent coffee supplier websites reveals the following 15 quotes, and images from a major UK supermarket taken, 16th June 2020, clearly demonstarte the true picture:
1."It’s just up to the sensory perception of people, and when you talk to people about freshness, nobody knows what it is—it’s a subjective description of their own perception.
The myth of most things in coffee is that tasting is mostly subjective."
Professor Chahan Yeretzian, 5 Incredible Myths Of Coffee Freshness.
SPRUDGE 23 SEPTEMBER 2015
A PhD in the field of chemistry who has dedicated much of his professional career to studying the emerging science of coffee freshness. Professor Yeretzian is currently Head of the Center for Analytical and Physical Chemistry at Zurich University, and is also a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe’s Board of Directors.
All pictures from Sainsbury, Weston-super-Mare, taken 17th June 2020.
"So, when I talk about freshness, today I’m talking about roasted coffee freshness...
As you can see here at low temperatures, the atmosphere in the coffee bag did not have an impact on the freshness. Also, at 15 degrees this is just below room temperature. We don’t see really a strong impact of the atmosphere in the coffee bag."
The Science of Coffee Freshness | Samo Smrke, Expo Lectures 2019. December 2, 2019.
Specialty Coffee Association podcast 81.
Samo Smrke is a scientific associate at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences.
"How does the roasted whole-bean coffee stay fresh? I have heard anything from 2 weeks to 2 months and some people claim that with the right packaging techniques, 6 months and beyond. This topic is very controversial, because this information is mostly provided by us — coffee roasters — and let’s be honest, we often try to follow our own agenda."
The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Freshness, coffeecourses.com March 7th 2016.
"So, do coffee beans ever really expire?
The simple answer is: no. Coffee beans won’t ever “go bad,” which is why you don’t typically see an expiration date on the package. Coffee beans are considered a shelf-stable dry good."
PUBLICGOODS.COM by Lea CeasrineJanuary 22, 2020.
"One well-known roaster has extended its pull date to one year from roasting!"
Buying Coffee at the Supermarket
THE ATTLANTIC JUNE 2, 2009
A best before date 11 months into the future with no discernible roasting date.
"a packet of coffee beans lasts for six months when stored in a pantry and two years if kept in a freezer while ground coffee lasts 3-5 months once it is opened (whether it is stored in a freezer or not)."
baristadelcaffe.co.uk, Last Updated on December 5, 2018
Roasted March 2020, best before Dec 2020.
"How long do coffee beans last?
Freshly roasted beans last up to around 3 months."
ADAMS & RUSSELL OCTOBER 16, 2018
Best before October 2021, remember this was taken in June 2020, note again, there is no roasting date to be seen..
8. "How long does coffee last? Dried coffee, if stored properly, can last for months and even years beyond any dates printed on the package."
April 2021, again no roasting date.
9. "In general, an unopened package of ground coffee stored in the pantry will retain the best taste three to five months beyond the best by date. Ground coffee stored in the freezer should taste great even one to two years beyond the best by date."
https://www.doesitgobad.com/November 15, 2019
Best before end of Sep 2021, (taken June 17th 2020). Coffee with a best before date at least 15 months away, again this could be much longer given the lack of a roasting date.
"How long do coffee beans last in the cupboard?
An unopened bag of coffee beans can last from 6 to 9 months in the cupboard.
An open bag (stored properly) for around 6 months.
How long do coffee beans last in the fridge/freezer?
If the bag of beans is unopened it can last 2 to 3 years in the fridge.
If it's open and stored properly 1 to 2 years."
ENJOYJAVA.COM Dena Haines Updated April 30, 2020
Roasted 14.05.20, best before 14.05.21.
11."If taste is your concern, your best bet is to store coffee in an airtight container somewhere cool, dry, and dark. Stored this way, ground coffee can be used for a few months past its expiration date, whole bean for up to nine months, and instant coffee for up to twenty years. You can also store coffee in the freezer, which greatly extends its shelf life (anywhere from one to three years for whole bean and ground coffee, and practically indefinitely for instant)."
HILINECOFFEE.COM Does Coffee Go Bad?Posted in: Coffee and Health, Coffee Beans and Pods, Coffee Benefits.
Picture taken June 2020, best before May 2021
12. "Ground coffee lasts for 3-5 months when kept in a pantry at room temperature, but it can last 1-2 years in the freezer.
Whole-bean coffee lasts for 6-9 months in the pantry and up to 2-3 years in the freezer.
Instant coffee lasts for 2-20 years in the pantry, depending on the packaging."
Best before date 30th April 2022, picture is of coffee on supermarket shelf 17th June 2020.
13. "On average coffee’s expiration date can be prolonged for months and even years in a freezer depending on what state: whole beans, ground, or instant coffee and the method in which its stored..Ground coffee in the fridge lasts 1 – 2 years Whole coffee beans last for 2 – 3 years"
Picture taken 17th June 2020, best before date March 2022. Almost 2 years.
14. "A lot of grocery store coffee bags list an expiration date instead of a roasting date. Stay away from these!
As mentioned earlier, coffee doesn’t technically go bad. So an expiration date will only tell you the date when your coffee no longer has any flavor."
November 30, 2019
Coffee in an unopened FlavorLock™ bag will stay fresh for several months."
Note a Flavorlock bag incorporates a one way valve to release carbon dioxide and restrict the ingress of oxygen, all NOT1BEAN coffees are packaged in bags that incorporate one way valves.
All pictures taken 16th June 2020 showing supermarket coffees with best before dates in some cases of over 2 years in advance.
The objection raised by coffee suppliers is that a 48 hour flight or a few weeks at sea (flying is finacially feasible as long as commercial roasters in consumer countries are removed from the supply chain), means that coffee cannot be roasted at source - given the short shelf life.
At NOT1BEAN we never roast any of our coffees outside the countries in which they were grown, farmers and producer coommunities share in the profits generated in this $100 billion dollar industry.