Goizueta’s TTC finds cost of specialty coffee lowest in South

For coffee lovers in the South, there is some good news.

Recent observations from Goizueta’s Transparent Trade Coffee project found the cost to purchase a pound of specialty coffee is lowest in the South. The project also suggests that coffee is the most expensive out West.

The data comes from the ongoing Specialty Coffee Retail Price Index (SCRPI), a project that tracks the retail prices charged by a carefully selected group of North American specialty coffee roasters.

Over the last couple of years, Canadian roasters have shown the lowest prices, both at the lower and upper ends of the market. However, when looking within the United States, SCRPI roasters in the South had the least expensive coffees for sale in their online stores. At the upper end of the market, their prices averaged about $8 less per pound compared to roasters from the West.

SCRPI was created by Transparent Trade Coffee, a project run out of Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, to stimulate pricing transparency in the specialty coffee industry. Their end goal is to support coffee growers by letting everyone know how much of the coffee purchase prices get back to coffee-growing communities.

The SCRPI provides the market with guidelines for retail pricing. Goizueta Professor Peter Roberts hopes that it will give coffee growers — who are far removed from final consumers — a baseline indicator of what their crops are actually worth. For this reason, each quarterly report is translated into Spanish and shared with growers (and others) in Latin America.  

SCRPI researchers make quarterly visits to the online stores of coffee roasters to record the prices for their lowest-priced and highest-priced specialty coffees. The pricing information is gathered from 60 different roasters working across all regions of the United States as well as Canada.

Transparent Trade Coffee also breaks down the price per pound of many “registered” specialty coffees to show how much of the retail price actually makes it back to coffee-growing communities. The goal is to use the pricing and payment information to create better awareness of the social and economic issues facing coffee growers around the world.

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