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The Countries That Drink The Most Coffee And Pay The Highest Prices For It

March 28th, 2014

 In the second post in a series about coffee (because who doesn’t love a good post on coffee while while drinking their morning coffee?) we’ll look at how consumption and retail price varies by country over time. We’ll see why the Dutch drink more coffee than anyone else, why Japanese coffee drinkers pay such high prices for their coffee, and why the US isn’t as coffee-addicted as you probably thought.

In the chart below we can see coffee consumption by the top nine countries by year.


The United States consumes the most coffee overall, followed by Germany, Japan and France. Remember this is overall consumption, not consumption per capita, meaning these relatively small countries are consuming an impressive amount of caffeine yearly. It’s interesting to note that coffee consumption remains fairly steady, with a few dips, most noticeably in 1994 when a weak growth year caused coffee prices to skyrocket. Looking at this chart it would be easy to assume that Americans drink the most coffee per person.  In fact, in consumption per capita, the U.S. doesn’t even rank in the top ten. Following is a chart ranking the top 15 countries in coffee consumption per capita in 2013.

On average, the Netherlands consumes nearly double the coffee per capita that the next country, Finland, does. Could this potentially be driven by low prices in these European countries?

You’ll see below the average retail price in each country of one pound of coffee in current US cents.

 Japan sees the highest prices for retail coffee quite consistently, followed by Italy, Portugal, Cypress, Austria and Denmark. The Netherlands ranks first in coffee consumption but eleventh in coffee prices, while Japan does not even break the top 15 in coffee consumption but ranks first in coffee price. This indicates there could be some relationship between price and consumption.  Japan, in fact, enforces a 20% import tariff on coffee in order to protect the native tea industry, which explains why it’s such a distinct outlier from other coffee prices. Globally, coffee prices are not very different apart from Japan. Of course there are trends in coffee drinking and prices, and it turns out to be an interesting bellwether for overall economy in each country. Could coffee be similar to the Big Mac Index?

Following is a chart of changes in coffee retail price by country and year.

Latvia, for instance, had their first elections as an independent nation in 1993. The spike in coffee prices may reflect the uncertainty and chaos in the new nation’s economy. Prices spiked overall in 1994 thanks to a low year in coffee production. In 2001, Japan fell into a recession, which is shown in the coffee prices above.

You’ll find a chart of GDP in select countries present in the graph above.

If we look at Japan’s GDP especially, we can see that many spikes and dips in coffee prices mirror spikes and dips in GDP; 1994’s spike, 1999’s spike and 2001’s dip, for example.

Take a look at these datasets yourself and see what you can discover about coffee consumption or relationships between coffee prices and GDP.

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By Kelli Simpson

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