If you think coffee prices are out of hand now, you’re in for a shock. California farmers are getting into the coffee business, and according to the New York Times, they’re banking on the fact that American consumers will soon be comfortable with paying $8 to $12 for a single cup of coffee.
Calculate that out and it equals $2,080 to $3,120 a year on cups of coffee — and that’s if you only get one a day and you only drink specialty coffee on weekdays. Long gone are the days of street cart cups of joe in blue and white cups and metal tins of Folgers. If California coffee growers and the Times are correct, all the people who complained about Starbucks being too expensive are about to start rioting.
The higher price is partly for “premium” beans, but also because growers are trying to make coffee farms work in Southern California. The only place in the U.S. that has had a serious coffee business is Hawaii. California is for other crops like almonds and avocados. But the aging avocado trees are producing fewer avocados than before, forcing farmers to look for alternatives.
One thing avocado trees are producing? Shade. And coffee bushes love shade.
The Times pins Jay Ruskey, the owner of Good Land Organics, as the father of California coffee. He’s mainly growing three types of coffee: Pacamara (earthy “like the smell of California dirt and new plants in the spring”), Geisha (“light and fruity flavor with low acidity”), and Bourbon (“finishes with a chocolate taste”).
Those are the specialty tastes that specialty coffee drinkers are looking for, apparently. The National Coffee Association says that more than half of American coffee drinkers down a specialty coffee every day, so what’s to say they won’t pay $5 more for that specialty coffee.
If you’ve got extra income to blow — $3,000 worth of extra income to blow — and enjoy being moderately caffeinated for a $8 to $12 a drink, then this new wave of California coffee is for you. For the rest of us, well, we’ll just stick to our overpriced $4 and $5 cups of coffee.