We admit to a fair amount of indecision about how much to spend on coffee beans — should we splurge on the $12 one-pound bag of the delicious Stumptown Guatemalan at City Girl Café, or walk just up the street for a $6.99 bag of the perfectly good, freshly roasted Aggie's Blend at Porto Rico? Well, we may no longer have the luxury of such a dilemma. According to the International Coffee Organization, exporter stockpiles are at their lowest since 1965, and unless demand falls significantly due to the recession (as apparently many hedge funds are betting), coffee prices are going up — possibly way up.
They've risen 2.3 percent so far this year, and one analyst sees them soaring as much as 52 percent by July — in a recession! This is cruelty. Among other things, it amounts to a tax on the unemployed, for whom coffee is the cheapest mood enhancer available, not to mention a necessary excuse to get out of their apartment. As for the rest of us, blessedly not yet among the unemployed, it could leave Stumptown entirely out of the question, and, dare we say it, force us into Maxwell House.