The Caffeine Crisis, Chapter 2, How Does The Coffee Really Break Down?

In December of 2019, the Coffee Collective dove into the basics of the Caffeine Crisis. From breaking down the International Coffee Organization (ICO)'s Coffee Market Report, to discussing the 6 of the caffeine crisis according to Specialty Coffee Association's, the Collective worked hard to bring forth a rough understanding about just how real this problem is.

Coffee Beans in Ceramic Mug By: Mariah P. K. Ardrey

Now, in 2020, it is time to understand the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of the coffee crisis, in the daily lives of Americans.

To many Americans, the coffee crisis still remains an unknown variable in their near potential future. According to laboratory technician student, Manpreet Kaur, coffee is a staple in her daily life, a "much needed pick me up at the beginning of each day. Not just to stay awake, but give a positive emotional boost, to power through the mountains of homework," she said.

Yet, despite the importance caffeine holds to her, Manpreet admitted that before the interview was conducted, she had no idea that is even existed. But, she was eager to learn more.

Who, When,Where

According to the Coffee: World Markets and Trade report, distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States imports the second largest amount of coffee in the world.

And, it may come as no surprise, but the title of #1 coffee consumer demographic in the United States, belongs to millennials (individuals between the ages of 19-34).

People Working in Cafe Front at Night By: Mariah P. K. Ardrey

According to Thomas Heath's article, posted in 2016 on the Washington Post, Look How Much Coffee Millennials Are Drinking, the millennials' increase in consumption, is putting out records highs in coffee demand foe the U. S. With the expansion of coffee and cafe culture, along with urbanization, being some of the hardest hitting trends in American society, to influence these caffeine intake increases.

Of course, millennials aren't the only ones enjoying coffee out there.

Reported numbers vary, but on average, American Individuals above the age of 60, are consuming roughly the same amount of coffee as their younger counterparts, just in a different manner--normally preferring to brew coffee at home, than go out for an iced latte--according to Coffee Statistics 2020 U.S. on


Now, as for what the coffee crisis is.

Cream Being Poured Into Coffee By: Mariah P. K. Ardrey

In plain and simple terms, the coffee crisis comes down to understanding the price of the bean.

According to Coffee & Conservation: Are Your Beans For The Birds? Prior to 1989, the market/trade price for coffee, was regulated by a cartel called the International Coffee Agreement (ICA). The ICA imposed quotas and controlled prices in regards to the coffee beans, between both consuming and producing countries, working hard to stabilize the market, to be profitable for both buyer and seller.

But, when the ICA collapsed in 1989, due in part to the U.S. (being the largest coffee importer at the time) no longer supporting the agreement's renewal, coffee consuming countries across the globe, began leaving the caffeine producing countries "high and dry".

Coffee in Double Walled Glass Mug By: Mariah P. K. Ardrey

This resulted in something called the "free market", which originally helped to plummet the cost of coffee down to $0.49 a pound in 1992, according to the article.

It was, for a time, a victory well celebrated for major coffee selling franchises. But, these days, it threatens the very livelihoods of millions across the globe. Including the coffee bean itself.

Why, How

This is important. America does not only run on coffee figuratively, it relies on it economically as well. Coffee--caffeine in general really--has interwoven itself so deeply into American, and even global society, it is hard to even imagine reality where it did not exist.

Customer Paying for Coffee By Mariah P. K. Ardrey

Coffee is so important in fact, that according to the National Coffee Association (NCA), the #1 beverage in America generates around $225.2 billion in economic impact.

Here is how the numbers break down more specifically according to The Economic Impact Of The Coffee Industry...

The Economics Of Coffee In America By: Mariah P. K. Ardrey

And it isn't only American economics that is so drastically in-tune with the coffee industry. It is a global affair--as previously mentioned.

According to the National Coffee Association's blog, more recently, global coffee sales have accumulated into a more than $42.2 Billion market. And according to How Well Do You Know 'Joe', more than 3.5 billion cups of coffee are made, every. Single. Day.

No matter how the numbers flex and change. Coffee is a global standard of society. No one can, or should, try to downplay the importance of this beverage. And, as such, coffee and coffee farmers need to be protected.

What Next

Now, with all the highs--and the importance of coffee--being understood. It is time to begin addressing the lows. In 2019, the coffee industry took a drastic turn...the price of the coffee bean had hit new lows in mid-2019, according to the National Coffee Association Blog.

"Never Stand Between Me and My Coffee" Sign in Warwick, NY By: Mariah P. K. Ardrey

But, the market made somewhat of a comeback in 2019 through the months of November and December, the same article reported.

The numbers have only continued to climb in 2020, thus far, but the NCA makes sure to stress the fact, that although coffee might be making a comeback, it is hard to determine the future of the caffeinated beverage, as events in the new year continue to unfold.

Americans reportedly drink more than 400 million cups of coffee each day, making them just as responsible for the survival of the coffee beans, as the coffee farmers, according to

After learning about the coffee crisis, and realizing how important a role the beverage plays in the lives of so many, including her own, interviewee Manpreet Kaur said, "what can we do to help counteract it, before it really gets out of control?"

The Fair Trade Certified website has a few suggestions.

Here are just a few of those suggestions...

How To Support Coffee Moving Forward By: Mariah P. K. Ardrey

And for National Coffee Day in September of 2018, the organization took those suggestions to the next level, asking supports to document/celebrate the impact of fair trade certified coffee, and how it can and does impact the lives of coffee farmers around the world, and thus the coffee bean itself, with #justonecup.

Iced Coffee Overhead Shot By: Mariah P. K. Ardrey

There is also the Sustainable Coffee Challenge Commitment.

It is a community of coffee industry power houses, partnering with real coffee lovers, to work towards obtaining a world distributing world, where all caffeinated beverages are produced, while meeting sustainable practices.

As Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO, Conservation International said on the website about page, "It is time to think about coffee beyond our daily cup..."

Coffee is in crisis. But it is not beyond saving. Caffeine lovers must unite, to save coffee culture, and the coffee bean, from going extinct.

#coffeeculture #coffeecommunity #sustainablecoffee #coffeecrisis #coffee #fairtrade #coffeeindustryeconomics

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