Last month in the Wall Street Journal (content restricted), it was reported that the gap between higher-end arabica beans and lower-end robusta continues to narrow. This has partly to do with harvest yields but also the economy. As I noted in an earlier blog item, even the Europeans are cutting back on coffee consumption and many are willing to go with robusta coffee (mostly found in instant varieties). As Leslie Josephs notes,
Prices of robusta coffee beans are up 13 percent in the past year because of rising global demand, especially among price-conscious consumers in emerging markets like Russia and Brazil.
In contrast, consumption of the costlier arabica bean in its stronghold of the United States and Europe is barely rising due to tepid economic growth. This has helped push arabica prices down 37 percent.
In other coffee news, the March/April issue of Cook’s Illustrated ranks trendy medium-roast brands with Peet’s Coffee: Café Domingo and Millstone Breakfast Blend finishing on top, and Dunkin’ Donuts Original and Eight O’Clock Coffee down at the bottom. According to the tasters’ comments regarding Dunkin’, “This medium-roast stalwart … was so ‘sharp and bright and very acidic’ that it had one taster pleading, ‘I need milk!’ Another deemed it an ‘acid bomb’; lab tests confirmed that this was the most acidic coffee we tasted. A high number of defective beans gave it weird ‘cherry/almond’ off-tastes.”
But what if Dunkin’ marketed the coffee as its premium “cherry-almond blend”? Aha!
Photo of medium-roasted arabica beans by Ragesoss