Roasters are sneaking cheaper robusta beans into their blends to save money. Will coffee drinkers revolt? I came upon this story by Kim Peterson in a tweet from coffee expert Jack Groot. Have you noticed that your coffee tastes different lately? A little bolder, perhaps even bitter? Does it seem to have more caffeine?
Coffee companies are sneaking more robusta beans into their grounds as the price of the higher-grade arabica beans has spiked, Reuters reports. Very few roasters are actually admitting to doing this, but the evidence is as plain as day: U.S. robusta imports soared by 80% in the first quarter, while arabica fell by nearly a third.
Higher-quality arabica beans have a milder, more delicate and complex flavor than robusta. They're harder to grow and more expensive. Coffee experts say robusta, by contrast, tastes like burned rubber. Robusta also has a lot more caffeine.
Robusta coffee has been dismissed for years. In fact, U.S. coffee merchant COEX Coffee International never traded robustas five years ago, Reuters reports. Now the company said 40% of its business is robusta.
That raises a big question: Who's using all that robusta? Reuters guesses it's the national retail brands sold in supermarkets. Only one major roaster has admitted to using more. Massimo Zanetti, which makes the Chock Full o'Nuts and Hills Bros. brands, said it upped its robusta content by more than 25%, according to Reuters.
Everyone else is quiet.
There's only so much robusta Americans will take in their coffee blends. And roasters seem to be pushing the limit -- an understandable move, given the wild increases in coffee prices in recent years.
But coffee prices have come way down. Arabica futures hit a two-year low this week, in fact. So will the roasters that switched to robusta return to higher-quality arabica now that costs have settled? Unless there's a consumer backlash, the answer is no.
Shoppers on tight budgets are trading down to less expensive coffees, willingly accepting a slightly harsher taste in order to save a few dollars. That means robusta's popularity is probably here to stay, and the coffee industry is adjusting to this new reality. That's good news for Vietnam, the world's biggest grower of robusta.
Rest assured that our Paniola 100% Kona Coffee is all Arabica. Our Café Pinon de Nuevo Mexico is made with a blend of Central American coffees…all Arabica. And our Cowboy Action Coffee…the Offifcial Coffee of the Single Action Shooting Society…a blend of Indonesian and Ethiopian is, you guessed it, all Arabica!
The purpose of this blog is to unite Kona coffee lovers and perhaps learn a little about coffee and all the benefits of coffee at the same time. Join up, become a member, comment and have fun! You can find the Kona Coffee Fiends group on Facebook and we’d appreciate it if Facebook users would “LIKE” the Kona Cowboy Coffee Company page at www.facebook.com/pages/Kona-Cowboy-Coffee-Company/222070817858553. Just copy and paste to your browser. You can also find us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/jackshuster. And on the web at www.KonaCowboyCoffee.com to order your gourmet coffee and coffee products.
You know you’re a coffee fiend when you want to be cremated just so you can spend the rest of eternity in a coffee can. So enjoy your coffee, make it Kona, and remember, Kona is the home of the Hawaiian cowboy…and we had cowboys in Kona before there were cowboys in Texas!