The Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide – Setting the Bar on Prices

The Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide – Setting the Bar on Prices

   2 Minutes Read

Alejandro Cadena
Co-founder and CEO



With international coffee prices still hovering around the 1 dollar per pound mark, the end of 2018 saw a group of 21 coffee companies – exporters, importers, and roasters - contribute pricing data to Transparent Trade Coffee (TTC), a team of researchers at Emory University led by Dr. Peter Roberts and Chad Trewick. The data received by the team at TTC encompasses more than 10,000 contracts, covering almost 150 million pounds of green coffee with an overall value exceeding 340 million dollars. This information comes from contracts that were signed between October 2016 and September 2018, for coffees that scored 80 points or above. This data was then analyzed statistically to yield the first edition of the Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide (SCTG).


Transparency being one of Caravela’s five core principles, we were among the first companies to agree to participate in this initiative. We contributed data on 2,545 contracts, representing almost 15.8 million lbs. of coffee contracted during that period. Thus, by our calculations, Caravela’s data represents almost 24% of the total number of contracts and 10.8% of the total pounds analyzed by TTC. The information we submitted to SCTG represents 100% of our contracts entered into with roasters from around the world, for coffee from the eight Latin American countries where we work. And, because we don’t source any coffees below 84 points in cup quality, our share of the data of 84+ coffees rises to 17% by volume and 28.5% by number of contracts.

The 14-page guide contains detailed information about FOB prices, grouped according to quality levels, lot size, and region of origin. Among the interesting results generated by this study is the fact that the median FOB price of all contracts analyzed during both of the periods covered was $3.00/lb - almost three times the average “C” price of 2018.


Another insight offered up by the study was that contracts for coffees scoring below 84 points represent 53% of the total volume contracted, while only 8% of the total number of pounds contracted represent coffee of 86+ cup quality, highlighting that high scoring coffees are harder to source, are less sought after by specialty roasters, or both. But perhaps the guide’s most notable conclusion is that, despite the fall in the “C” price from 2017 to 2018, the year-to-year change in median prices for coffees scoring 84+ was significantly lower than for coffees scoring below 84 points; the resilience of the former clearly shows that better quality helps insulate producers from the general market price movements.

While the scope of the study is relatively small compared to the overall size of the world’s specialty coffee market, the Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide is, without a doubt, the first and most expansive independent effort to provide the coffee industry with objective price benchmarks, empowering coffee farmers to negotiate better prices for their quality coffee and helping buyers make more informed decisions when negotiating coffee prices. This pricing data, along with cost of production information, is critical to remove the highly volatile “C” price from any pricing conversations and thus develop a more sustainable specialty coffee industry.


I urge everyone working in the coffee industry - as well as coffee lovers the world over - to download the report here and encourage more coffee companies to contribute their pricing data, so that future iterations of this guide can provide broader feedback with greater detail and even more accurate and informative results, thus benefitting producers, roasters, and consumers alike.



Was this interesting? Grab a coffee and pick another from the articles below

Water Activity: Predictive insights Changing Processes and Profits

Water Activity: Predictive insights Changing Processes and Profits

Blending Experience with Passion in Mesoamerica

Blending Experience with Passion in Mesoamerica

Coffee in Galapagos: Evolving To Thrive

Coffee in Galapagos: Evolving To Thrive

What Traceability Offers Farmers

What Traceability Offers Farmers

The Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide – Setting the Bar on Prices

The Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide – Setting the Bar on Prices

A Tale of Two Customers: Caravela Coffee and the Rethinking of the Coffee Import Model

A Tale of Two Customers: Caravela Coffee and the Rethinking of the Coffee Import Model

Arriving at a price

Arriving at a price

Rich Farmer, Poor Farmer

Rich Farmer, Poor Farmer

Low Prices, Risky Times

Low Prices, Risky Times

Making it Work as Well as it Can

Making it Work as Well as it Can

Discovering the Source

Discovering the Source

A Mutual Evolution: Caravela Nicaragua’s William Ortiz, on helping people grow coffee, and how coffee helps people grow

A Mutual Evolution: Caravela Nicaragua’s William Ortiz, on helping people grow coffee, and how coffee helps people grow

The High Price of Getting the Best from Ecuador

The High Price of Getting the Best from Ecuador

Victims of Exchanging Currencies – Who Should Take on this Risk?

Victims of Exchanging Currencies – Who Should Take on this Risk?

A Pilgrimage to the Future

A Pilgrimage to the Future

Why We’re Investing in World Coffee Research?

Why We’re Investing in World Coffee Research?

The Making of a Champion

The Making of a Champion

Peru, an Unpolished Diamond in Coffee Production

Peru, an Unpolished Diamond in Coffee Production

Investing in Education: Investing in People

Investing in Education: Investing in People

How Roasters Can Influence the Supply Chain

How Roasters Can Influence the Supply Chain

Aromas: More than Just a Coffee Competition

Aromas: More than Just a Coffee Competition

FOB vs. EXW – Two Buying/Shipping Methods for Your Green Coffee

FOB vs. EXW – Two Buying/Shipping Methods for Your Green Coffee

Checking Your Cultural Bias at the Door

Checking Your Cultural Bias at the Door

Sample Roasting vs. Profile Roasting

Sample Roasting vs. Profile Roasting

How to Keep Records of your Costs of Production?

How to Keep Records of your Costs of Production?

Why and How to Estimate Costs of Production in a Coffee Farm?

Why and How to Estimate Costs of Production in a Coffee Farm?

Supply Chain Logistics – The Clockwork of Coffee

Supply Chain Logistics – The Clockwork of Coffee

1st SEMESTER HARVEST 2018 SURVEY

1st SEMESTER HARVEST 2018 SURVEY

Forecasting Green Coffee Purchasing

Forecasting Green Coffee Purchasing

From Origin, With Love

From Origin, With Love

How Joe Coffee and the Guarnizo family work together to ensure everyone wins

How Joe Coffee and the Guarnizo family work together to ensure everyone wins

Impact Report 2017

Impact Report 2017

Impact Report 2016

Impact Report 2016

Drying in Peru: the Final Step in Quality Improvement

Drying in Peru: the Final Step in Quality Improvement

Passion for Coffee: Nicaragua

Passion for Coffee: Nicaragua

Passion for Coffee: Guatemala and Salvador

Passion for Coffee: Guatemala and Salvador

“Despacito”: How Coffee Should Be Dried

“Despacito”: How Coffee Should Be Dried

Why we are a B-Corp

Why we are a B-Corp

Specialty Coffee Thought Leaders: Interview with Alejandro Cadena

Specialty Coffee Thought Leaders: Interview with Alejandro Cadena

Partner Farm Purchasing and How it Impacts Sustainability

Partner Farm Purchasing and How it Impacts Sustainability

Pedro Claros and Has Bean: The Story of a Thousand Samples

Pedro Claros and Has Bean: The Story of a Thousand Samples

How One Roaster Can Impact a Whole Community

How One Roaster Can Impact a Whole Community

When is it time to harvest?

When is it time to harvest?

Just In Time Inventory

Just In Time Inventory

Baristas Are Your Final QC Check

Baristas Are Your Final QC Check

Subscribe to regular and relevant updates direct from origin

Connect with Us