'Coffee has been far too cheap for far too long'

Barista making a coffee at a cafe. Photo: Getty Images
Roasters and café owners have also had cost increases on nearly everything else that goes into making a cup of coffee, including packaging, labour costs, and also the cost of major disruption and shutdowns from our Covid response. Photo: Getty Images
If you're like me, your current morning routine probably includes Wordle, doomscrolling, and a cup of coffee, writes Bethany Reitsma.

In fact, you're probably drinking coffee as you read this. And what you're probably not seeing as you gaze lovingly into your latte art is the long journey it's undergone to reach your lips.

That journey has become more arduous in recent months. And the price of our precious flat whites is set to go up as a result, amid what suppliers are calling the "perfect storm" of Covid, supply chain shortages and climate.

Mt Atkinson Coffee's Jacob Parsons says coffee has been "far too cheap for far too long" in an industry that's "hurting" as a result of Covid-19.

"We've had to increase our prices to customers and retail customers. We know how important coffee is to everyone, especially Kiwis, and hospo is doing it tough," the West Auckland cafe and roastery owner shared.

"If there's a good harvest this year then the market will be flooded with coffee again and the price will go down. But higher prices are a good thing and people need to pay more."

And Auckland coffee roaster Kokako's Mike Murphy agrees, saying price increases are down to an increase in shipping costs, damage to crops and the pandemic. Coffee is traded on a futures contract, so if farmers have a bad year, the price goes up in advance.

"Some of our green coffee importers are seeing the cost of shipping a container increasing by a multiple of five," he tells the Herald.

"There have also been reduced yields for many coffee farmers due to climate volatility and crop harvesting irregularity - this means some coffee farmers and co-operatives have less coffee to sell - and of course Covid, which has impacted the supply chains of most products globally."

Avalanche Coffee's managing director Stefan Marusich says the market has also seen a "spike in demand" - meaning your cup of coffee is only going to get more expensive.

"Roasters and café owners have also had cost increases on nearly everything else that goes into making a cup of coffee, including packaging, labour costs, and also the cost of major disruption and shutdowns from our Covid response," he explains.

Marusich adds that coffee farmers have been selling at very low prices for a long time and says that while price increases are positive for growers, prices need to stay high for a sustained period of time for them to benefit.

"And we all need to support our local cafés despite the rising cost of coffee as these businesses have had such a difficult time recently due to Covid," he adds.

"They are the lifeblood of local communities and they need all our support to help them get through this period."

Emma McDougall of the New Zealand Specialty Coffee Association agrees it's important to realise just how much time, money and effort go into the cup of coffee you're holding.

"There's a lot in that cup. How much would you pay for a Heineken or a glass of chardonnay in a bar? You've got to ask the question, what price is my daily luxury?"

It's a luxury we've got to be willing to pay for if the industry is to survive - and there's no better time than now to be paying more for our coffee.

"The industry is haemorrhaging, so support local hospitality as best you can. Every cup counts."

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