Bad news if you like bad coffee. Poor global harvests of Robusta beans – the less delicate, more bitter, much maligned brother of coffee’s heralded Arabica bean – appear to be driving up coffee prices in 2017, even on the cheap stuff. Due to its less coveted flavor profile, Robusta beans are often used in lower quality products like instant coffee and inexpensive blends, meaning once Robusta prices go up, the opportunity to pinch pennies with subpar coffee is pretty much over – lest you start adding the dirt the coffee beans grew out of.
According to Bloomberg, the increased cost of Robusta, which has hit a four-year high, stems from a number of issues in countries around the globe. Brazil, the world’s largest coffee grower, has seen production plummet as drought has ravaged its top Robusta producing region, Espirito Santo, leaving the 2016 crop as the smallest in a decade. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s Robusta harvest struggled for the opposite reason: too much rain. Indonesia is also cited as having had a weak harvest.