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The Battle Between Cost and Quality in the Coffee Industry

The battle between cost and quality is an eternal struggle for most businesses; however, you see it so acutely in the coffee business because it is present daily and often hourly. We see it play out so clearly on the micro level at coffee shops.

The stress on the barista’s faces as they decide if they serve you the over-extracted espresso or throw it away and make a new one. The worry lines on the shop manager’s forehead as he notices the brewed coffee has been sitting on the counter for three hours, and a regular walks in to order some. Does he serve the customer a coffee he knows has gone cold and lacks the nuance of flavor, or does he try to reduce his losses on the pot and risk losing a regular customer?

The fact is that coffee is an agricultural product, and thus, it has a built-in expiration date from the moment it is harvested. The clock begins ticking once the coffee is harvested, processed and dry-milled. Green (unroasted) coffee has one year before it is considered a “past crop, ” which severely reduces its value on the market. Once that coffee is roasted, it has been transformed and receives a new expiration date that the roaster decides. This date can be between 3 months and two years, depending on the packaging and the roaster’s threshold for quality.....


Written for Santé Magazine by Jake Leonti, F+B Therapy

Mr. Leonti has worked in coffee for over twenty years with disciplines at every link of the value chain from barista to roasting, green grading and importing. Jake is the current Editor-in-Chief of Coffee Talk Magazine, columnist at Santé Magazine, member of the Roasters Guild and host of the Food and Beverage Therapy podcast

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