Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world. It's grown on six of the Earth's seven continents and there are more than 3,000 varieties. Coffee production relies heavily on manual labor and has a heavy environmental cost because it depletes soil nutrients, requires large quantities of water, and produces significant greenhouse gases for roasting processes.
There are many different types of beans that can be used to make coffee; some good for taste others good for flavor.
In this post we'll answer all the questions you might have about where Coffee Shops get their Coffee Beans.
About Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee plant. The plant is cultivated in over 70 countries, and it has been thought of as one of the most valuable commodities for centuries.
Coffee beans are high in caffeine, giving our favorite pick-me-up its distinctive flavor.
The vast majority of coffee beans are produced on plantations within the tropical zones. This means that nearly all coffee comes from either South America or Africa.
One notable exception is Hawaii, which grows Kona Beans. The island state is the only place in the United States that is capable of growing coffee.
The two main types of beans are Arabica and Robusta.
Many coffee shops sell a blend of both, but there may be different ratios used in their blends. For example, some companies blend 3 parts Arabica for every 1 part Robusta.
Others mix it up to get the perfect balance of flavors.
Coffee is typically roasted before being sold to consumers. Each roasting company has a different process, and they all have a different flavor profile in the end product.
The caffeine content also varies by bean type and roast level.
There are several ways that coffee shops get their beans for brewing into delicious cups of Joe: some companies purchase wholesale, while others buy through third parties.
How to Source Wholesale Coffee Beans
Many coffee shops use local brands . Some of these are nationally recognized , while others are smaller businesses that offer premium quality at affordable prices.
Wholesale companies sell beans either in whole or ground form to their customers. There is usually a minimum order of 70 lbs at a time.
Many of these wholesale companies ship within 24-48 hours, so getting fresh beans is pretty easy for coffee shops that use these services. They can place one order and receive the exact amount they need without having to worry about running out too quickly before buying more.
The downside is that it can be costly. 70 lbs of coffee beans is a lot, and the prices add up quickly. This is especially true when you do not use an efficient ordering process or if you purchase in bulk more often than necessary.
Buying Coffee Beans Domestically
If you decide to buy domestically , you will need to be very diligent about your research.
Many of these companies sell coffee beans that are almost one year old! If you go with a supplier like this, it is more than likely that your customers will not enjoy the flavor of your brew.
Something else to consider when buying domestically is shipping costs . Sometimes the advertised price of a product does not include additional fees for shipping costs. This is especially true when you are buying coffee beans in bulk.
The best way to find high-quality, fresh coffee beans is to buy through a third party supplier that ships within 24 hours. You can then sell your drinks at premium prices without having to worry about the coffee beans themselves.
Some of the benefits of buying coffee beans domestically include:
Transportation and time:
There is no need for the coffee beans to be shipped across the world. With domestic importing, it would just be shipped within the same country which leads to faster shipping. The coffee then does not have to travel as far, decreasing the chance that the beans are damaged or broken in transit.
Costumers have wider variety of bean types:
When buying wholesale, there's only a limited number of kinds of beans available. When importing, there are more varieties. More competition leads to better prices for coffee shops.
It is easier to maintain inventory with domestic importation:
If you do not have enough cash to pay upfront at the time of purchase, you might be able to work out a deal with some third-party suppliers. In many cases, you can write off the balance on your taxes. Some suppliers also offer payment plans that make it easier and more affordable to purchase large quantities of coffee beans.
So how do you find coffee beans you can purchase domestically? Typically you can source those from other third-party coffee shops.
Third-Party Coffee Shops
Some coffee shops choose to work with third parties instead of going through a wholesale company.
These suppliers receive the same types of beans as the big guys, but they may sell to smaller businesses. Some of these companies offer free shipping , which is a huge plus for coffee shops on a budget.
If you do not have enough cash to pay upfront at the time of purchase, you might be able to work out a deal with some third-party suppliers .
In many cases, you can write off the balance on your taxes . Some suppliers also offer payment plans that make it easier and more affordable to purchase large quantities of coffee beans.
The downside is that prices can be higher than wholesale if you do not do your research. This increases the price to the consumer, which means fewer sales at your shop.
Shop around and compare the prices of different suppliers before making a decision.
Importing Coffee Beans Internationally
Importing coffee beans internationally means that the beans are sourced from other countries.
These may come form different regions of the world like South America, Africa, or Asia. Whether it be through air or ocean shipping , these beans make their way to their final destination .
Many coffee shops choose to import their beans instead of buying domestically. This means the beans are grown in another country and then shipped to where they will be sold. The growing regions all have different climates, so this changes the flavor profile of the final product that is brewed into delicious cups of Joe.
For example, some regions grow Arabica beans, which are known for their fruity flavors. The original beans grow in Ethiopia, so this is where the flavor profile gets its start.
Other regions produce Robusta beans, which give coffee a more bitter taste than Arabica. This is because Robusta has twice as much caffeine as Arabica does. It was originally grown in lower elevations, so it can withstand harsher conditions that Arabica cannot.
The tasting difference between Robusta beans and Arabica beans is due to the different growing conditions, so it's important when buying wholesale coffee beans that you know where they come from.
If you need to buy coffee beans at wholesale rates for your small business, there are a few things you should know before committing to an international supplier.
- The country may not have regulations on food safety (especially if they are developing).
- Sometimes regulations can change quickly and without notice which can subject your shipment to getting detained. You would likely incur fees for storage, transport, and disposal.
- International shipping is expensive. For example, the coffee beans may have to go through customs which could require additional fees. This can be a burden on your small business's cash flow.
The downside to this is that importing beans from another country is more expensive than buying domestically.
The transportation and other associated costs make the final product more pricey for consumers. If you find a supplier with reasonable prices and high-quality coffee, though, it may be worth the extra cash.
The best way to ensure you get the freshest coffee beans is by finding a supplier that has a fast turnaround time and offers free shipping.
You will need to use your discretion and consider all of your options before settling on one option over another. Wholesale companies offer convenience but they can be costly, while third-party suppliers may be more affordable but they do not offer the same convenience.
As a general rule, coffee shops that import beans tend to sell their products at an elevated price compared to coffee shops that buy domestically.
Importing coffee beans internationally is not the only option for sourcing your product. Of course as mentioned, you can also buy domestically to get fresh beans that are grown in different climates and regions across the world. The best way to determine whether or when you should import, though, depends on your business's specific needs.