Economy & Business News

Coffee - the money spinning seed

Coffee is one of the most important agricultural products traded worldwide and is a major source of forex, hence extremely import, to many least developed countries (LDC). Global value of coffee export far exceeds those of cocoa and tea, the other two main tropical beverages, and total export of coffee averaged $10.5 billion annually in the late 80s. This has however fallen to around $6.7 billion annually in the nineties.

Coffee is grown and exported by over 70 developing countries in the tropical and subtropical belt. Nigeria produces predominantly the robunta type which grows mainly in Plateau, Nassarawa, Taraba, and Adamawa states. The main harvesting season is between November and March but the commodity is exported all year round. The production of coffee has grow significantly from an average of 48'000 bags (2'580-tons) in the early 70s to over 90'000 bags (5'400-tons) in the early 90s. However official export figures fell from 38'000 bags (225-tons) in 1970/71 season to just 1'000 bags (60-tons) in 1990/91 season. (source ICO).


The following products are traded internationally in the forms belows:

1. Coffee is green bean form (not roasted also known as green)

  • Not decaffeinated
  • Decaffeinated

2. Roasted coffee (in bean or ground, also know as roast)

  • Not decaffeinated
  • Decaffeinated

3. Extracts, essences and concentrates of coffee and preparations with a basis of coffee (soluble)

4. Extracts, essences or concentrates, Other

5. Preparation with coffee Containing less than 1.5% milk fat, 2.5% milk proteins, 5% sourose or starch, other

The two basis types are Arabic and Robusta. The Robusta type attracts an international floating.



Coffee is graded by size and density to give end product that is a uniform as possible. Coffee that has not been separated by size is commonly called upgraded This should not be confused with undergrade, a term referring to substandard coffee.

Reasonable uniformity in bean size is important because it is difficult to roast large beans together with very small, light or broken beans. It is therefore an industrial requirement that coffee should be size and density grade. It can then be more easily and uniformed roasted, thereby helping to preserve liquor quality.

Certain markets still attach great importance to the size and appearance of traditional roasted beans, despite the fact that, during the past 20 years or so many consumers have turned to vacuum - packed roast and ground (R & G) coffee.


This is the second component of export presentation. It must be reliable and consistent, and should fit into a roaster's blen. Requirements vary from country to country and it would, for example, be pointless to offer coffee with excellent acidity and flavor to markets which habitually roast very dark and therefore evaporate most of these aspects of the liquor

General Rules

United States of America: Great care is taken by the US government to prevent entry of coffess which are or have been contaminated by insects, mould, or chemical considered health risks. All coffee arriving in the US is surveyed by the inspectors of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA operates from 20 district offices, mostly situated at ocean ports and border crossings for example coffee containing more than 0.2 ppm of Diazinon ( an insecticide) or more than 2.0 ppm o Dalapon (a herbicide) will be refused entry.

EEC: A maximum moisture content of 12.5% on a maximum of 120 defects per 300 grams is derived. Green coffee is generally packed in 60 kg bags (net weight).after fumigation.


Using 1990 figures, over 95 million bags (5.7 million tones) of coffee were consumed world wide. Of these 1.3 million tonnes or 23% were consumed in the coffee producing countries themselves while 4.4 billion tonnes or 775 were consumed in importing countries. The USA was the most important single market for coffee. It accounts for 19 million bags or 26% of consumption in importing countries. The second larges market is Germany, followed by France, Japan and Italy. Taken as a whole the EEC absorbed 29.2 million bags or almost 40% of consumption in importing countries.

Brazil is the largest producer of coffee producing predominantly arabica. In Africa, Burundi, Kenya, and Tanzania are the leading arabica producers while Cameroon, Uganda, Madagascar, and Zaire produce predominantly robusta type.


No exporter should believe that small amounts of substandard quality will somehow disappear in a large bulk. The roaster, in due course, will identify the inferior quality and will trance the original shipper or supplier.