Coffee prices at an all-time high

Cup of coffee with leaf design

Cup of coffee, Credit: Lun Makara, pexels

Gaining in popularity in the UK and a staple in Spain for hundreds of years, coffee is an essential which is fast becoming unaffordable.

According to the International Coffee Organisation (ICO,) the cost of coffee beans reached an all-time high in February of this year.

The price of coffee in Spanish shops rose by 23% in February 2024 compared to the same month in 2021, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE).

Spain is a major manufacturer of soluble coffee and producer of caffeinated roasted coffee. Nevertheless, most of the coffee consumed in Spain is imported, amounting to almost 400,000 tonnes.

Coffee: Essential staple or unaffordable luxury?

Most imports come from countries in Africa, Central America and Asia, such as Brazil, Ethiopia and Vietnam. Coffee cultivation is vulnerable to drought as the plant requires plenty of water, and reduced bean crops mean that demand is outstripping supply.

The price of bitter, dark robusta beans from Central Africa and Asia has been increasing drastically in the past decade and a half, and by 50% since the beginning of this year, when prices rose from €1,383 per tonne to €3,923, according to the ICO.

Arabica beans have become 60% more expensive since October 2023.

Another reason for the price increase is distribution problems, with cargo ships avoiding the troublesome Red Sea route.

A new regulation from January 1, 2025 requires coffee marketers to prove that the product does not come from deforested land, which while undoubtedly beneficial to the environment may also increase production costs and drive up prices further.

Globally, around 400 billion cups are consumed annually, according to the National Coffee Association.

How much coffee is good for you?

The advice from doctors is to not generally drink more than two or three coffees a day, although it surely depends how strong the coffee is.

The average person in the UK drinks two cups of coffee a day, 80 per cent of which are instant. In Spain, where coffee tends to be drunk in purer form and has more of a kick to it, people drink 3.5 cups on average.

According to the Statistica Global Consumer review, around four per cent of people in the UK drink coffee more regularly than tea.

Millennials and Gen-Z who claim to do so view it as more affordable and healthier than going to the pub.

An average of 44 million cups of coffee are consumed every day in Spanish households, with another 22 million cups being drunk daily in cafes.

This adds up to an average consumption of almost 4 kg of coffee per person annually in Spain.

Perhaps surprisingly, this is way behind consumption in Finland, which at 12kg per person per year is top of the global league table.

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Annie christmas in the Bay of Palma
Written by

Annette Christmas

Annie Christmas loves language and communication. A long-time resident of Mallorca, she enjoys an outdoor life of cycling, horse riding and mountain walking, as well as the wealth of concerts and cultural events on the island. She also plays fiddle in a traditional Mallorcan dance troupe.