Barista Magazine

DEC 2018 - JAN 2019

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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Page 88 of 107

P ON AUGUST 20, 2018, a milestone event happened in the coffee world. On that summer Monday, the international price of coffee—known as the C-Market price—fell below $1 per pound, its lowest point since 2006. The C-Market price is an important number in the coffee world, as it provides a base- line on which contracts between coffee farmers and coffee buyers are written. When it fell below $1—which is signifi cantly less than what it costs to produce a pound of coffee in most countries—it brought about immediate and urgent concern in coffee-producing nations around the world. At September's World Coffee Producers Forum, Roberto Velez, CEO of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, said, "It is today a desperate moment for the 25 million coffee growers around the world. It is a crisis beyond imagi- nation." In the months since those sub-$1 lows, the C Market has rebounded a bit—as of press time, it was hovering around $1.22 per pound. It remains a volatile presence, though, and exactly how it operates is a subject of some confusion in the industry. The C-Market price is dictated by an amalgamation of factors, and it's only the jumping-off point for most coffee contracts. In short, it's a fairly complex topic. Here we answer some basic questions in understanding the C before looking at how the specialty-coffee industry is working together on solutions. "It hasn't got to the point where people are leaving coffee. But people are frustrated, and it's hard to keep going. That's what the cooperative is for—to support people when they're struggling." —Emel Mosquera Rivas, lead coordinator of coffee, COOCENTRAL cooperative; Huila, Colombia Understanding the C Market and How to Deal with It By Chris Ryan 89

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