Reassurance for Kiwi coffee drinkers

Kiwi coffee drinkers are being reassured international price hikes will not affect the cost of their daily cuppa, with industry experts expecting local suppliers to weather a recent spike in the cost of coffee beans.

Costs for the beans have shot up by about 20 per cent in the last two weeks, after speculation drought conditions in Brazil - the world's leading Arabica bean supplier - could lead to a shortage in good-quality beans.

Despite this, New Zealand's coffee market gurus believe most local suppliers have sufficiently buffered themselves against the hike in bean costs.

Savings made over the last year, where the price of coffee beans basically halved, were not really passed on to coffee drinkers, OMF commodities broker Tim Kronfeld said.

"With the strength of the Kiwi dollar, coffee prices aren't likely to move much, simply because the real discounts have already passed through.

"There's a fair amount of that [price increase] the wholesaler will be able to absorb," he said.

Meanwhile, industry insiders have also said New Zealand's preference for high-quality coffee has aided in keeping local prices relatively stable.

At the moment, most people pay anything between $3.50 and about $5 for a barista-made coffee. Those after plunger coffee, would probably spend about $8 at the supermarket for a 250g bag.

Havana Coffee managing director Geoffrey Marsland said it wasn't uncommon for local suppliers to purchase beans well above the standard market price because of the type and the quality.

"I've been in the business 25 years and I've seen it [price changes] come and go before. I don't think the consumers going to get it, because it's gone from a very low price to a steep climb."

Beans used by Havana Coffee were basically twice the cost of the "New York C" (standard price), Mr Marsland said.

"People in New Zealand are so spoilt for the coffee. People that like coffee drink good coffee and they know where they're going to get it. They're very habitual."

New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association president Carl Sara, who also founded the Crafted Coffee Company, said the recent price increase was "manageable".

The premium costs paid by coffee bean buyers - who wanted to ensure quality, sustainability and traceability of their beans - had held steady, however other expenses had to be factored in to the price of a a barista-made coffee.

These included milk costs, cafe overheads and staff wages, Mr Sara said.

A spokesperson from the Countdown supermarket chain said there had been no indication of a possible rise in coffee prices from their suppliers.

However, "the price for coffee does fluctuate depending on what global factors may be affecting the countries where coffee is produced".

Both the Countdown spokesperson and a representative from rival supermarket company Foodstuffs said the low commodity price of coffee last year had not resulted in in-store coffee specials becoming more common.

- By Teuila Fuatai of APNZ

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