My year in beans: 2013 — all certified coffees

by on December 31, 2013

nuthatch-mugAnnual recap of how much we spend on coffee in a year

Here we are on year five of standardized tracking of how much the two-person Coffee & Conservation household spends on coffee. We keep track of each bag we buy, including shipping, since we purchase the majority of our coffee online.

Of course, we never buy cheap, fast-food, commodity, or mystery coffee. If we don’t know where it comes from, we don’t drink it. Usually, most have eco-certifications, but since we have a lot of knowledge on how to research the source of each coffee and gauge sustainability, we have traditionally purchased other coffees that we know are sustainably-grown, but did not carry certification.

Most consumers won’t go through this process, so for 2013, we decided to buy only certified coffees: organic, Rainforest Alliance, Smithsonian Bird-Friendly, or some combination. I confess, a few bags were from farms we knew or discovered did have certification, but were not sold as such.

Of our 79 bags, around 15 were duplicates, sometimes the same farm from different roasters. Sixty-two bags of coffee were certified organic, and 28 were certified Rainforest Alliance; 11 had both certifications. Five were also Bird-Friendly certified (of which organic certification is required).

Despite buying exclusively eco-certified, specialty coffee this year, we paid the lowest price per cup in our five-year tracking history. Let us now put a fork in the myth, once and for all, that high-quality, sustainably-grown coffee “costs too much.”

Here are all the 2013 stats:

  • 79 bags of coffee totaling 65.5 pounds.
  • Total retail price for the coffee only = $1109. This year, we moved to a more coffee-friendly community, so we were able to buy more coffee locally and spend less on shipping, just $74. Our previous 5-year average for shipping was $127.  Our grand total was $1183 for the year.
  • Cost per six-ounce cup: only $0.44 ($0.41 without shipping), calculated using the common industry standard of 11 grams of coffee beans by weight per 6 fluid ounces of water.
  • The average price per pound including shipping this year was $18.08, or $16.95 excluding shipping.

Previous results

The five-year average is 63 pounds of coffee a year at an average of $20.04/lb, and $0.49 per 6-oz cup, including shipping.

year-in-beans-graph

We are not very typical consumers in two cost-inflating ways: 1) We buy most of our coffee online and do not buy more than we can drink in under two weeks, incurring high shipping costs; and 2) we buy from an average of over 20 different roasters each year, in order to try a variety of coffees, nearly always single origin farms and frequently higher priced microlots. Had we only repeatedly purchased our favorite locally-available coffees, our estimated cost for the year would have been around $900 total, and $0.34 a cup.

Great coffee that helps support ecosystems and rural communities worldwide is not too expensive for all of us to enjoy. You can calculate how much a cup of coffee costs, based on the price of a bag of beans, using the spreadsheet below (it’s a little tempremental, click on the cells a little to get it to work).

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Revised on January 2, 2014

Posted in Certifications,Coffee news and miscellany

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tim Stiffler-Dean January 2, 2014 at 2:15 am

Been saying this for so long to people, and it’s rare when someone believes me. Gonna save this and share with others.

Since this is the first day of 2014, I decided to jump in and start doing this same thing as you and see my own stats for coffee drinking over the year.

Reply

JulieCraves January 2, 2014 at 6:33 am

Tim, way to go! Have a great year!

Reply

Kyle Freund January 8, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Ooh, that’s a great idea. I’m going to try this as well. Really interesting idea there, friend.

Reply

Michelle April 11, 2014 at 9:45 am

With the statistics, very convincing suggestion. Great post.

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