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Coffee Chronicles, Part 8

Each and every year millions of bags of coffee leave the ports of their exporting nations in order to satisfy the tastes for coffee of millions of consumers all over the world who live in countries where coffee cannot grow. The market for coffee is thereby a global market with volumes of exchange which are equivalent to almost any other major commodity in the world.

The organization which manages and controls the flow of these enormous quantities of coffee beans is the International Coffee Organization which has set series of standards which are adhered to by almost all producing nations and also almost all of the nations which receive coffee imports. The International Coffee Organization works to develop markets for coffee and throughout the world and to regulate the world market to keep price spikes and troughs from unfairly impacting the normal flows of the marketplace. The coffee market occurs each day in Wall Street, Paris, London and Le Havre.

When we examine the English and American marketplaces, we find that the London coffee terminal market and the New York coffee, sugar and cocoa exchange are the primary markets for coffee. The New York exchange tends to more concentrated on the Arabica bean while the London exchange focuses on the Robusta.

All of the characteristics of coffee are transmitted in codes and numbers when dealt with by the exchanges. These codes indicate the botanical species, the country of origin, the embarkation port, the altitude of the plantation, the method of harvesting, the year of harvesting, the form or shape of the bean, the caliber of the bean, the color of the coffee, the hardness and whatever defects it may have. There are also various codes which specify the preferred method of roasting and the optical grinding level for this particular bean.

The beans which go through the New York, London and other coffee exchanges are destined to go to almost every country around the world. However, prior to the explosion of popularity of espresso coffee bars in the last decade or so around the world there were only a handful of countries which have a well defined traditional inherent coffee culture. As you would guess, the most traditional coffee cultures are in the Old World European nations which are indelibly etched into the coffee consciousness as having a heritage of fine coffee brewing and enjoying.

Continued in Coffee Chronicles, Part 9

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