24 Aug

The big business of coffee


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by Gemma Wiseman

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Created on: May 11, 2007   Last Updated: May 15, 2007

According to, “Coffee has become the second most valuable commodity in the world after oil. It originated in the highlands of Ethiopia during the 15th century, and 125 million people today depend on coffee for their livelihood. The World Bank estimates that nearly 500 million people are involved in the business.”

That means BIG business.

The “coffee break” is a popular item in the daily diet, a must on the cafe or restaurant menu. In almost every Western home, the kitchen cupboard is in dire straits if only a few grains or beans are left in the coffee jar.

That means VITAL business.

Coffee has almost become an art form. From lattes to long blacks, from cappuccinos to iced coffees and liquer coffees, the names of coffee variations reflect exotic lyrics of a journey to liquid heaven!There are even boutique coffee shops, laden with stylistic lighting to enhance the adventure of coffee!

That means business WITH FLAIR.

And what about all the different machines that create the magic of coffee? From the humble instant jug of hot water (coffee on the run) to the magic scents of brewing coffee.

Coffee is SERIOUS business.

For the curious, who really would like to know if there is such a thing as rare coffee, there is the following “odd” piece of information. Did you know that Indonesia produces the “kopi luwak”, the most expensive bean in the world? A cat chews on ripe cherries, the stone or bean takes a “natural process”, and farmers collect the result. It is claimed that the bean carries a mystical odour of musk when roasted.

Coffee can be a QUIRKY business.

Big business usually implies “big people”. If there are big people, then there are also little people. In the case of coffee, the little people are the growers. Oxfam, in 2001, made a public outcry about the plight of the poorly paid coffee growers in some of the high producing countries. Africa and South America were mentioned. Little has been heard since.

Except, perhaps, there is the small voice of music. A few years aqo, I found an amazing CD in a tiny second hand shop. The CD was new, on a dump table, trapped in a pile of second hand clothes “on special”. The CD was called “A Putamayo Blend. Music from the Coffee Lands”; haunting rhythms from Latin America and Africa.

At the bottom of the CD, on the back, was a small, sad note:
“A portion of Putamayo World Music’s proceeds from the sale of this CD will be contributed to Coffee Kids, an international, non-profit organization established to improve the quality of life for children and families who live in coffee-growing communities around the world.”

The big business of coffee can only give growers just a portion of profits?

Coffee is hot business, but the practice is cold?

106937_mLearn more about this author, Gemma Wiseman.
Contact this writer Click here to send this author comments or questions.


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The big business of coffee

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Posted by on August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


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