Ángel Marqués Ávila. Journalist
Coffee is a universal product, accessible to all consumers; it's a major gastronomic product that's part of our culture.
As we get to know it better, we enjoy it more, and if we consider consuming it responsibly, taking into consideration what goes into a good cup of coffee, our experience becomes, simply put, unique and unforgettable.
Coffee is on the rise. The global increase in consumption is ongoing: coffee is increasingly consumed in a greater number of countries and, at the same time, it has become diversified and sophisticated (i.e. specialized coffee chains, coffee in capsule format, etc.). The coffee industry is believed to generate around 200 billion dollars per year. Brazil is the world's largest producer, followed by Vietnam and Colombia, and coffee supports 25 million producer families around the world.
Global production of coffee will exceed the demand in 8 million bags of 60 kilos in the cycle 2018/19, and harvests in Brazil and Vietnam will reach record levels. Colombia exported more than 14 million bags in the last year, and the 2018 harvest figures will be similar, with between 13.5 and 14.2 million bags.
Global coffee production will peak at 171.2 million 60 kg bags in 2018/19, compared with record consumption, which is expected to reach 163.2 million bags.
Spain, a country of coffee enthusiasts
In Spain, coffee is part of our gastronomic culture and is present just about every minute of the day, from breakfast to coffee breaks to post-meal rituals.
Annual coffee consumption in Spain is 4.5 kilos per person. This is less than half of the figure in Finland (12 kg per person), Norway (9.9 kg) and Iceland (9 kg), which are the countries that are the largest consumers, surpassing even Brazil and Italy.
Today, coffee consumption in Spain is enormous, and Spaniards have a habit of drinking coffee every single day. In Spain, annual consumption easily exceeds 14 billion cups, i.e. 170 thousand tons of green coffee beans are used to make almost 600 cups per person per year.
For the General Manager of leading high-end coffee brand SUPRACAFÉ, Ricardo Oteros, coffee consumption per person in Spain has been low compared with other industrialized countries, and although consumption has expanded by less, an upward trend is still visible.
According to Oteros, the percentage of lower-quality coffees that have traditionally been imported and the use of torrefacto coffees have set the quality bar low in Spain.
He adds that the current market is improving and there's an increase in higher-quality coffee niches and more sophisticated consumption, in both HoReCa and in distribution. We expect this trend to get stronger.
Juan García Ramos, the General Director of INTERGRANO, a services-based company that sells green coffee beans, says that year after year, the importance and relevance continue to grow and contribute considerably within the food sector and, in particular, in HoReCa.
He says that they are up to date with certifications (UTZ, Rain Forest, Organic, Fair Trade, etc.), which make for an important improvement in the quality of purchases. This is also important in terms of importers. INTERGRANO is the first company in Spain to obtain double certification for green coffee: the IFS (International Food Standard) and the BRC (Global Standard for Food Safety).
For Josu Andrés, the Client Manager at NIELSEN, a global company that manages what consumers see and purchase, tells us that consumption is currently relevant and on the rise as the market is growing, driven mainly by the convenience of coffee makers that use capsules. Instant and toasted coffees are also making their mark, looking for new developments and opportunities to offer premium products, and the search for organic products is increasingly visible at stores.
Coffee is a leading gastronomic product. Most meals end with a cup of coffee, and many times the entire experience can be ruined because of a bad cup. Restaurants and chefs need to have a better understanding of the product and how it's best used. It's really easy and affordable to serve an excellent quality coffee—it's actually more about being informed than money. The difference between an extraordinary and a mediocre coffee is less than 10 cents per cup.
Coffee is very much in fashion all over the world. Ultra-modern coffee makers and specialty coffees are growing by double-digits. Multinationals are investing in coffee chains and in new coffee products. It's a very popular product that people like and it's healthy; in contrast with what people think, there is growing evidence of the positive health effects of coffee. Moreover, its gastronomic dimension (different terroirs, varieties, processes), like wine, opens up a world of possibilities for most of society, which defines itself as coffee drinkers.
For Oteros, it's important to work more with the first players in the food chain, providing them access to technology and its development. The bulk of coffee comes from 25 million small producers with scant resources in underdeveloped or developing countries. Broadly speaking, the challenges that come with sustainability are enormous. That's where we have to work to ensure that we have coffee in the future.
According to García Ramos, in Spain, the current situation is booming, with solid growth, at least in HoReCa, the market where INTERGRANO does 95% of its business.
As supply increases, quality improves and consumption possibilities expand, consumers fall more in love with coffee. If consumers are actually aware of the impact of their consumption decisions can have on the sustainability of the planet and millions of small producers, that makes the consumption experience more valuable.
Coffee is affected by new consumption habits and formats, according to the head of SUPRACAFE; formats change, as do the places where you like to have your coffee. This makes the selection in supermarkets—and new formats in HoReCa—change enormously, with specialized chains and independent retailers appearing with more sophisticated offers.
For García Ramos, the distribution of this type of product in his business is done completely through the final client and they do it via HoReCa.
According to Andrés, the coffee market situation is experiencing a very good dynamic and is still being driven by consumption from the convenience of coffee makers that use capsules. That market continues to develop and the trend does not look like it's going to slow down any time soon as these types of products continue to be developed.
Quality is what matters
Coffee is like wine, although crop development is decades behind if we compare them, and primary production faces the most challenges. Varieties and processes are being worked on. Today, traceability and oversight at origin is one of the most important factors for defining the best quality coffees. The majority of coffee that is sold today is a commodity. There's still a long road ahead, and a lot of wins in terms of quality.
According to Oteros, there's still a lot that consumers don't know about the product, and there's a large imbalance between the different links of the value chain to the detriment of producers.
Says García Ramos, INTERGRANO guarantees the quality of the product 100%, simply because its certified by the IFS and BRC, and 100% of the coffee imported for Portugal, Italy and Spain occurs through its offices in the best coffee-producing countries. Coffees are analyzed at origin prior to boarding and once they reach their destination through the professional lab at the central offices in Valencia. They're tasted, analyzed and tested again by the company's q-grader before being placed at the disposal of the final consumer. This enables the company to guarantee that people are buying a top-flight product.
Coffee is a universal product, accessible to all consumers. It's a leading product that's a part of our culture.
The more we get to know it, the more we like it. And if we look at coffee from the standpoint of responsible consumption and beyond, taking into consideration everything that goes into making a good cup of coffee, our experience simply becomes unique—a true pleasure.