Coffee shortage set to change prices—and tastes

Coffee shortage set to change prices—and tastes

Cafes and coffee lovers are growing increasingly worried as a global shortage of Arabica coffee beans is threatening to push up the price of a cup of Joe.

Supplies of the bean, popular for its smooth flavour and accounting for around 60 per cent of world production, were decimated after extreme weather destroyed crops in Brazil—the world’s largest coffee producer.

As a result, the price of coffee has surged 21.6 per cent this year to $3.65 a kilogram according to IBISWorld, and it’s predicted the price will continue to climb.

In addition, global supply chain issues and shipping container shortages are hurting importers, with the Cafe Owners and Baristas Association of Australia predicting Australians should expect to pay up to $1 more per cup.

Further exacerbating price hikes is a shortage of staff in hospitality venues post-pandemic, with Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert saying consumers should expect to pay between 10 and 20 per cent more for their favourite items—coffee included—on menus in coming months.

“Patrons will begin to notice that their favourite meals will become dearer as we head into 2022 and the critical workforce shortage rages on,” he said.

“Businesses are being forced to pay higher wages due to the supply and demand of hospitality employees. This may become permanent as it is hard to wind back wages.”

Coffee roasters and retailers also have the option of switching from Arabica beans to Robusta—the variety commonly used for instant coffee, which contains more caffeine, and also has a bitter flavour.

At less than half the price of the superior Arabica beans, retailers may be forced to choose between flavour or passing on the rising costs to consumers.

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