Hundreds of millions of cups of coffee are poured in this country every day, but the popular beverage is getting more expensive.
Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea is a growing national chain that’s managed to survive during the pandemic. CEO Lisa Bee says, “We have seen many, many more guests come out, certainly since the past year.” According to Bee, the company now faces another challenge: the high cost of coffee beans.
Drought and frost damaged crops in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee exporter. Those shortages, along with shipping slowdowns, are making beans more expensive. The International Coffee Organization says the overall benchmark price is up 42.9% since last year. Now consumers are paying more, from the corner cafe to the grocery store. Sweetwaters is also charging more. “Customers have been very understanding, and we have actually only taken about a 5% price increase,” Bee says.
Market research company the NPD Group says, on average, Americans are spending about 10 cents more for a cup of coffee now compared to last summer.
Larger companies have been able to withstand the growing expense for beans. Starbucks was able to lock in bean supplies early, so the Seattle-based company has not raised prices for its coffee.
But it’s harder for small businesses. Bryan Joslin owns Mountain Phoenix Coffee in Salida, Colorado, and buys around 3,000 pounds of beans every month. “An average right now is we’re paying roughly 30% more, you know, we’re talking around $2,000 net profit per month that we’re losing,” Joslin says. Joslin doesn’t want to charge his customers more, but he isn’t sure how long he can sustain these losses, especially if bean prices continue to climb.