Coffee prices drip down to customers - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Coffee prices drip down to customers

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You'll probably never see Coffee Rust in person, but we're all seeing it's impact.   It means higher prices on your pick-me-up and Texas A&M researchers say it may jeopardize half a million jobs.  

"It's really in its prime," Ralph Behrendt says.

Three dollars.  It may not seem like all that much, but it's way more than a drop in the bucket for coffee farmers and roasters.  Coffee Rust isn't a new fungus but this year's weather has made things much worse.

"If you looked at the beans, they just look like dried-up raisins.  You know, they look really bad." 

Ralph Behrendt from Toledo's Flying Rhino gets his coffee green.    His antique roaster transforms the gourmet beans into the brown form you're used to seeing.  This year, there are less of those beans.  

"At some point in time, substitutions have to be made.  So you might go to African coffees or Brazilian coffees because this is just largely affecting Central America...But it mostly probably hurts the farmers in those countries."

If farmers need to re-plant, it takes five years for the coffee to bear useable fruit.  Flying Rhino says it fights to keep its prices low but this year, it's raised some of its wholesale prices.

"We try to shoulder some of it, it's hard to pass it on, it really  is," Behrendt said.

Customers like Jessica Kruger want the best, and are willing to pay a little more for local.

"I mean, if I'm going to live some place, I want to support the people who are my neighbors," Kruger said.

Coffee grows best in tropical jungles, in the middle of the globe.  Changing weather and drought can cripple these plantations.  

"I think it's mostly due to weather.... weather problems.  I know Brazil's had a huge drought  this year.  The commodities price of coffee is way up, it's probably up 100% since January," Behrendt said.  "And that's mostly speculation on the drought in Brazil, because they are the number one producer in the world."


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