The Coffee Bean Pricing Scandal

Did you realise that after oil, coffee is the second most used commodity in the world?

I didn’t.


Putting aside some of the variations, such as ganoderma coffee, pure, natural coffee has a market estimated at over $70 billion each year.

Despite the huge market prices, and continually high demand, farmers in third world countries, such as Ethiopia which often struggles with famine, are payed a mere $0.03 for each cup of coffee that they provide for.


People around the world are beginning to take notice of how little producers of coffee are being paid for their product.

To make that 3 cents, the farmer needs to harvest around 50 coffee beans, assuming the resulting coffee is finely ground.

A couple of years ago there was a film, ‘Black Gold’, that aired at the Sundance Film Festival.

The film exposed how the affluent countries in the West payed a pittance for coffee to people who are barely able to scrape enough money together to feed themselves or even attain basic shelter.

Companies in the US, UK and other parts of Europe are making huge amounts of profit on the back of third world farmers.


Considering that there are around 2 billion cups of coffee consumed every day, could these large multi national companies not afford to pay a fairer wage to the farmers?

Even if they doubled their payments they would be paying a tiny, tiny fraction of what labour in their own countries would cost and their profits would still be huge.

Many companies source their coffee beans directly from Ethiopia who produce around two thirds of the world’s supply.

By paying such a low rate to the farmers who spend all day hand picking a small number of beans are they doing what’s best for the consumer, their shareholders, or are they just taking advantage of a nation that relies on them too much for their income?

What do you think – is there a coffee bean scandal or is it just market forces and world commerce operating as the laws of economics dictate?

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.


  1. Carlos Andres says:

    I believe that the governments of countries like Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ethiopia should encourage a raise on coffee farmers salaries; if you take a good look all the world is actually pretty addict to that delicious black beverage, so much that I can’t think of a morning without it, so why not put that on favor of the little producers, governments can and should support their workers. If you think about oil that’s exactly what the OPEC does, controlling Oil market, I think that the organizations that are behind the coffee producer countries are not doing enough to really help.

  2. Yes, we do, indeed, rip the developing world off. It’s why they are still developing instead of already developed.

    I’m not sure the downturn will do anything to help that situation.

    Thanks for making the point, though.



  3. If your making the point that the western world rips of the 3rd world then icouldn’t agree more. We are greedy at the expense of others’ lives.

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