Guest Post: Inflation Hits Coffee As Brewers Secretly Swap Robusta For Arabica

Tyler Durden's picture


From Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg

Inflation Hits Coffee As Brewers Secretly Swap Robusta for Arabica

This article hit close to home for me.  Literally.  It was just over the holiday season that I mentioned to my mom that her coffee doesn’t taste as good as it used to.  She insisted that she was buying the same blend as always and I insisted it didn’t taste as good.  The conversation ended there.

Then I came across the following article and everything started to make sense.  From the Daily Finance:

Reuters is reporting that many of America’s major brands have been quietly tweaking their coffee blends. While most coffee companies consider their blends trade secrets, and are loath to disclose exactly what goes into them, both circumstantial and direct evidence suggests they’re now substituting lower-grade Robusta beans for some of their pricier Arabica, and degrading the quality of our coffee.

Research out of agricultural bank Rabobank confirms that demand for Arabica beans among coffee buyers “has fallen 27% year-to-date, while Robusta [demand] is 25% higher.” This seems to confirm a widespread alteration of the bean mix.

Why the switcheroo? Prepare to not be shocked. The answer is: price.

Now here’s the kicker of the article.


When you get right down to it, if there’s more Robusta in our coffee but people still find it drinkable, and the coffee’s getting a bit cheaper in consequence, where’s the harm?

What’s the harm?  I didn’t think whether coffee was “drinkable” or not was the point of drinking coffee.  The harm is this is just another example of standards of living being eroded by inflation.  Inflation that we are told doesn’t exist.  Just another day in Oceania…

Full article here.

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Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:28 | 3128005's picture

I have about twenty cans of coffee purchased at 6.99 or less. Low time preference, high java preference.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:35 | 3128023 idea_hamster
idea_hamster's picture

Interesting.  I didn't know any of these terms, so I typed them into Google translate.  

The results?

Arabica --> "Gold"

Robusto --> "Tungsten"


Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:43 | 3128061 icanhasbailout
icanhasbailout's picture

at least the chocolate ration went up again

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:47 | 3128073 Enslavethechild...
EnslavethechildrenforBen's picture

Bought 5 gallons of paint in a 4.68 gallon bucket. Bitche at the counter refused to charge me for only 4.68 gallons, I paid for 5.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:17 | 3128169 sunaJ
sunaJ's picture

The means of exchange and cofee:


Man drinks 100% arabica coffee.  He is content and caffeinated. 

Man drinks 90% arabica coffee.  Not as satisfying, but closest thing to it and "next best available."

Man drinks 40% arabica coffee.  Must consume 2.5 times his cup of coffee for same satisfaction.

Man drinks 100% robusta coffee.  Man still drinks coffee because the conditioned memory of arabica coffee is so strong still.  Also, there is no alternative.

Man drinks what he believes to be 100% arabica coffee but is actually goat livers and chicken gizzards.  "Something doesn't taste right," he whispers to himself.

Eventually, the memory and placebo effects wear thin and man wonders why he drinks coffee.

Man switches to tea.



Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:39 | 3128211 trav777
trav777's picture

Tyler is full of crap...this is NOT inflation.  According to the Fed and the BLS, using either hedonic adjustments or Chained CPI, there IS NO inflation by choosing to drink brown colored water instead of coffee.

Who are you going to trust, the GOVERNMENT or some guy using a Brad Pitt avatar?

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:56 | 3128257 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

so.... when coffee becomes too expensive (no matter what the mix) and you start drinking brown colored water from that rusty old 55 gallon drum out back, that's simply a 'voluntary substitution' and has nothign to do with inflation raising the price?

I suppose that also applies to eating acorns and bark after everything else becomes too expensive.....

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:26 | 3128331 trav777
trav777's picture

YES.  And when someone is pissing down your back, it is just the same as rain.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 22:05 | 3128345 cbxer55
cbxer55's picture

No it ain't! Piss is much warmer than rain. ;-)

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:39 | 3128650 cornedmutton
cornedmutton's picture

Obviously, you haven't been in SW FL in the summer time at 3:30 PM.

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 03:10 | 3128896 dubbleoj
dubbleoj's picture

robusta has twice the caffeine as arabica , just fyi

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 23:21 | 3131608 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Not when you dilute it in twice the amount of water:

1- buy robusta instead of arabica

2- dilute it 2x in water

3- sell it to the ignoramus

4- profit!

...and before you ask about (lack of) taste, Nestlé already solved that slight problem ages ago: add molasses during roasting and sell crappy blends as 1st grade ones - been working wonders with nespresso...

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:01 | 3128577 CPL
CPL's picture

Dandilion roots dried, ground up and brewed like coffee.  It's pretty close to arabica except nuttier.  No caffine, just a mega dose of vitamins which have about the same effect.  Word to the wise, when nature calls, answer.  It's also a mega dose of fibre.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:38 | 3128648 tenpanhandle
tenpanhandle's picture

but does it make the water, no, I mean the ground root, does it look brown in the cup.

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 00:49 | 3128763 CPL
CPL's picture

Smells like coffee, tastes like coffee, looks like coffee, brews like coffee.  Older folks drink it around here.  Doesn't have caffine.   When you visit it's impolite to refuse a cup of 'coffee'.  It's good, but it's not coffee with heavy cream.


Here's a recipe from a quick google search.  Teaches how to harvest, cure and grind it.

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 02:09 | 3128844 palmereldritch
palmereldritch's picture

Personally, I like my gin extra oily....

but on the dandelion front, there can be a real upside to adding it to your diet:

"...first phase of research showed that dandelion root extract forced a very aggressive and drug-resistant type of blood cancer cell, known as chronic monocytic myeloid leukemia, to essentially commit suicide.

Researchers then discovered that repeated treatment with low dose dandelion root extract was effective in killing most of the cancerous cells."


Mon, 01/07/2013 - 02:28 | 3128863 CPL
CPL's picture

Well I've been eating them in my salad for years with a couple of other ditch weeds.  

You have to get the broad leaves before the flowers bloom, nice saw tooth on them.  It's like a sweet cabbage, tasty.  In the hardier/bigger of the leafs you manage to find I suppose you could use it for Kimchi, never tried though so I couldn't say.  Stands to reason, tastes sweeter than the chinese cabbage, might be somethign to try.  Sweet with heat.

However if you harvest after the flowers pop, the leaves are bitter like a strong spinich flavor.  Boiling them a bit and saute in butter or greek type yogurt with fiddle heads, basil, garlic, salt/pepper.  Very tasty on rice or mashed into potatoes.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:59 | 3128680 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Long ago I was in the business, importing "green" (unroasted) coffee beans -- arabica -- from Peru.  Robusta makes coffee taste dirty & cheap.  But, robusta DOES have ONE good side affect: more caffeine.

If you see MORE bubbles as you pour your blend (or whatever) than before, that is a sign of more robusta, more bubbles, more robusta.

Vietnam and lowland Africa produce a lot of cheap robusta.  Colombia and Central America produce good arabica (generally speaking the higher the elevation, the better the coffee, but that depends on treatment, etc.), Brazil produces cheap filler arabica.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:39 | 3128356 DavidC
DavidC's picture

I'm not too sure of your post there, but it DID have me laughing!


Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:43 | 3128365 cbxer55
cbxer55's picture

That line was used in the Clint Eastwood movie The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:46 | 3128665 Money Squid
Money Squid's picture

Well, I would trust Brad Pitt. He looks dreamy.

I don't know much about hedonic adjustments, but I think the Fed uses hegemonic accounting practices - he will make you an offer you can not refuse.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:06 | 3128283 SILVERGEDDON

But - but - but - it only takes five dollars to dig it out of the elephant shit....................

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:39 | 3128213 Binko
Binko's picture

Good one, sunaJ. That could be a metaphor for much of life.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:28 | 3128632 petolo
petolo's picture

Ersatz : during the war krauts used to make coffee out of roasted cereals . Coming to your favourite starbucks soon.

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 01:07 | 3128790 deProfundis
deProfundis's picture

Man sells gold short.

Man gets rich

Man drinks Civet coffee.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:48 | 3128078 Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath's picture

It's like a drug dealer cutting coke... as long as the "user" accepts the "lesser" high, but is still willing to get high, where's the harm right?

If you demand the best go look for the best, in a free market economy, if your dealer isn't meeting your needs stop going to him... where's the harm in that?

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:15 | 3128259 Michaelwiseguy
Michaelwiseguy's picture

Alex Jones on that limey Brits show Piers Morgan CNN tomorrow night. I hope he rips him a new asshole.

Wear something sharp Alex, like a white Armani shirt and black jacket. Screw the tie.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:38 | 3128041 Bad Attitude
Bad Attitude's picture

So... you are hoarding coffee? You may laugh now. But, before it is all over, Dear Leader will make hoarding illegal.

(Actually, good for you! Stockpile things you use and may need before shortages develop and inflation takes its toll.)

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:41 | 3128052 fourchan
fourchan's picture

only a moron who never shops thinks we dont have raging inflation. a bag of chips is almost 5 dollars.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:48 | 3128077 Bad Attitude
Bad Attitude's picture

When it comes to inflation, who are you going to trust? Your lying eyes or the Ministry of Truth?

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:40 | 3128219 trav777
trav777's picture

eyes should be illegal if they tend to conflict with MiniTruth doctrine.

I mean the truth requires our consent, doesn't it?

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:56 | 3128258 Clever Name
Clever Name's picture

Attributed to ORI:

Dont believe everything you see, because you only see what you believe.

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 18:21 | 3130883 smiler03
smiler03's picture

You are SO obviously NOT the same Trav as before, unfortunately. A different brand of Tyler is my theory.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:00 | 3128268 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

Bacon shot up over $7 a package (pound) recently - from just over $4.....  BACON !?1?   wtf?   we're not talking prime rib  or filet but BACON!!!!!!!!

I don't even want to think abut what's going into hot dogs now..... (which btw are well over $4 a package.....starting to sound like my father but damn... I lived on those at 99 cents a package - or less - while in college)

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:13 | 3128299 bigrooster
bigrooster's picture

I don't buy bacon much but I notiecd the same thing today.  The cheap bacon was $5, the average for the better stuff was $7.  

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:16 | 3128304 Tijuana Donkey Show
Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Make your own bacon.

It's THE WHIP. Also, get the flavor you want. But if the CPI is correct, you'll substitute cat food for bacon, and it's all good. 

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:10 | 3128588 CPL
CPL's picture

Chicken weiners are nearly 4 bucks.  Hotdogs not made of asses, kunckles and beaks are 6-7 a pack now.


It's pretty easy to spend 20 bucks in a grocery store.  Milk, bread, eggs, throw on taxes (thanks HST!).  That's twenty bucks and you haven't even bought a meal except egg sandwich. 

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:50 | 3128080's picture


So... you are hoarding coffee?

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:09 | 3128152 Sean7k
Sean7k's picture

Green Beans store better than roasted ones. Roast your own. Try Sweet Marias coffee. I don't know how anyone drinks that commercial garbage. I have great coffees, roasted to my preference, that are fresh, interesting and very enjoyable. 

When you depend on the System, you are bound to be disappointed.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 22:25 | 3128484's picture

I just got an ad for green coffee beans. I wonder if that'll make it into my file in Utah.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:07 | 3128584 Overfed
Overfed's picture

Don't be so cynical. It's for your safety.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 23:37 | 3128646 petolo
petolo's picture

Faux Maxwell House 

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:02 | 3128127 El Oregonian
El Oregonian's picture

Bugler tobacco in a 6 ounce can. Great when the SHTF senario trade item will be worth it's weight in gold...

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:41 | 3128224 trav777
trav777's picture

opium poppies grow anywhere

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:48 | 3128234's picture

Six ounce cans of Bugler and Zig-Zag run $20 with the tax. Eight ounce bags of RSB "pipe" tobacco go for under $7. It's a slightly different cut but tastes just a like an old fashioned (pre-flame retardant) Marlboro.

This item makes perfect cigarettes fast and with the tubes and "pipe" tobacco a carton of cigs runs me under $12.

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:02 | 3128275 cynicalskeptic
cynicalskeptic's picture

tax avoider... watch out - big brother doesn't like things like that....  gov has started cracking down on loose tobacco sales

Sun, 01/06/2013 - 21:20 | 3128313's picture

I know. The cans of cigarette tobacco were $9 in early 2010. A new tobacco tax was instituted which increased the tax on loose cigarette tobacco from $1 per pound to $24 per pound. The day before the price of the can rose to over $20 I bought 45 cans at $9. I ran out of that about two months back and then I discovered this "pipe" tobacco thing. Now I'm paying less than I was when a 6 oz can cost $9. Folks should check out their local smoke shop, they'll know all about it. And get a Powermatic 2.

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 10:47 | 3129318 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture

I still have my Top-o-matic T2 hand cranker and my cost is about a buck a pack delivered using RBS's smooth cut pipe tobacco.

I can't smoke a factory made cigarette anymore since I started making my own because of the chemical taste of the burn additives.

I guess Obama decided to make the taxes 'more fair' to cigarette smokers than pipe smokers.

Harvard professors prefer pipes, so pipe tobacco gets the tax break.


Mon, 01/07/2013 - 12:12 | 3129603's picture


Harvard professors prefer pipes, so pipe tobacco gets the tax break.


I hadn't thought of that. One finds cronyism in the strangest places.

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