About the Specialty coffee transaction guide

There are big questions facing specialty coffee sellers and buyers. According to numerous studies in different coffee-producing countries, prices paid for green specialty coffees often don’t cover the full cost of production, let alone support thriving livelihoods for farmers and their families. Moreover, unless price discovery moves beyond commodity price references, younger farmers cannot expect these prices to evolve in ways that make them excited about remaining in the industry. As such, more and more farms will struggle to find a next generation to take over. This makes buyers increasingly concerned about future supplies of the different coffees that are needed to push the industry forward.


Because volatile commodity prices continue to hover at historically-low levels, industry leaders at various points along the supply chain are talking about the need to buffer the women and men who grow specialty coffees from price references that come from commodity markets.

This project relies on an expanding group of data donors – roasters, importers, exporters, and others – who provide detailed contract data covering specialty coffee transactions from recent harvests. Researchers at Emory University are using this (anonymized) information to create annual Transaction Guides that report on the distributions of recent FOB* prices for green specialty coffees.


The (pilot) 2018 Transaction Guide is based on data describing thousands of contracts from the last two harvest seasons. These data are summarized as follows:

Period Contracts Lower-End Price
(5th percentile)
Middle Price
Upper-End Price
(95th percentile)
2017/18 5,108 USD 1.55 USD 3.00 USD 9.05
2016/17 5,675 USD 1.60 USD 3.00 USD 9.20

After reviewing the progressive roasters, importers and exporters that are supporting this project, we invite you to download the 2018 Specialty Coffee Transaction Guide and learn more about how recent green specialty coffee prices are influenced by coffee quality, lot size, and producing region and country. This information will be invaluable in the upcoming negotiations that determine the prices that will be paid during the 2019 harvest season by empowering sellers and buyers to look beyond commodity reference prices.

*Free on Board (FOB) prices are paid for coffees that are delivered and placed onto the ship at the port in the country of embarkation. They typically cover any overland transportation costs from mills or warehouses to the port of origin, but not any overseas shipping, insurance, or any transportation, customs, and overland freight costs incurred on arrival to the port of destination (International Chamber of Commerce)

About the PROJECT LEads

Peter_Roberts 2.jpg

Peter W. Roberts

Peter is Professor of Organization & Management at Emory University and Academic Director of Social Enterprise @ Goizueta.

His research interests relate to how the behavior and performance of organizations evolve over time. Recently, he directs his interests in entrepreneurship and organizational performance toward topics in the field of social enterprise. His current projects focus on social entrepreneurs and accelerators, on micro-business development, and on the global specialty coffee industry.

For the past several years, he has also been spearheading Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, which focuses on making markets work for more people, in more places, in more ways. This led to the establishment of the global Entrepreneurship Database Program, the Start:ME accelerator program, and the Transparent Trade Coffee and Grounds for Empowerment programs.

Peter's Ph.D. is from the University of Alberta. Before taking up his current position at Emory University, Peter served on the faculties of Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Australian Graduate School of Management.


Chad Trewick

Chad has worked in the specialty coffee industry for more than 20 years. During much of that time he led the coffee program at Caribou Coffee and worked to improve coffee quality standards for the brand while ensuring mutually beneficial relationships throughout the supply chain. Chad champions responsible sourcing practices and in 2003, Caribou made a commitment to source an ever-increasing portion of coffees from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. By the end of 2011, 100% of the company's coffee was certified—nearly 20 million pounds. Chad led efforts transitioning existing origin partners and suppliers through the certification process to truly transform their operations instead of simply abandoning long-term relationships in favor of certified sources.

Today he engages in consulting work with a focus on work that helps to articulate the challenges of the coffee industry and highlights innovative and business savvy ways for it to respond responsibly. In addition to his consulting role for the industry, Chad is on the Specialty Coffee Association of America's board of directors and serves as the board liaison to the Sustainability Council; a group dedicated to ensuring the specialty coffee industry stays on the leading edge of sustainable practices and discussions.

2018 Data Donors

32cup    Importer, Belgium


Importer, Belgium

Azahar Coffee    Exporter and Roaster, Colombia

Azahar Coffee

Exporter and Roaster, Colombia

Caravela Coffee    Importer and Exporter, UK

Caravela Coffee

Importer and Exporter, UK

Cooperative Coffees    Importer, USA

Cooperative Coffees

Importer, USA

Direct Origin Trading    Farmer Collective, Colombia

Direct Origin Trading

Farmer Collective, Colombia

Equal Exchange    Importer and Roaster, USA

Equal Exchange

Importer and Roaster, USA

Flying Roasters    Roaster, Germany

Flying Roasters

Roaster, Germany

J Hill & Cia    Exporter, El Salvador

J Hill & Cia

Exporter, El Salvador

Nordic Approach    Importer, Norway

Nordic Approach

Importer, Norway

Phoenix Coffee    Roaster, USA

Phoenix Coffee

Roaster, USA

PrimaVera Coffee Importers    Importer and Exporter, Guatemala

PrimaVera Coffee Importers

Importer and Exporter, Guatemala

The Coffee Collective    Roaster, Denmark

The Coffee Collective

Roaster, Denmark

This Side Up Coffees    Importer, Netherlands

This Side Up Coffees

Importer, Netherlands

Transcend Coffee    Roaster, Canada

Transcend Coffee

Roaster, Canada



To gain access the Guide, we are asking individuals to provide some basic information. This will help us track the level of interest and engagement across different sector stakeholders, and in different countries and regions.

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