Saturday, July 23, 2005

bill fishbein: ironic, visionary

"coffee is the largest traded food commodity in the world, but it has no nutritional value. . . .it is also not a coincidence that the price of coffee is determined by a few speculators in new york and london, rather than set by the producers who, under normal economic circumstances, would determine their prices based upon their cost of operation. do you know of any other business with a product that is priced by the buyers regardless of the cost to the sellers?"

if you haven't read bill fishbein's powerful letter in the latest coffee kids newsletter, you don't know what you're missing. what you're missing is one of the most insightful and passionate critiques of the coffee business, end of story.

and i think every word he says is true. i've often said here that the coffee market is neither free nor fair, and desperately cries out for reform.

as scaa chief ted lingle also has strongly argued, coffee just shouldn't be a commodity. it must be de-commodified as soon as possible.

fortunately people like willem boot with the recent ethiopian internet coffee auction are finding ways to experiment with new ways to buy and sell and coffee in a normal, transparent, and equal way at prices actually reflecting the real quality of the coffee.

in the meantime, what can coffee lovers do? of course, donate to coffee kids. buy your coffee from your local independent roaster who understands the issues and is committed to the new business models.

and of course, whenever possible, in those cases where it's now possible -- i admit these are currently few, but should gradually expand -- buy fresh, high-quality specialty coffee from a farmer direct. . . .

posted by fortune | 7:37 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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