When writing about the price crisis on the commodities market, the reliable refrain we see on social media from the free-market capitalist is always, “bUt SuPpLy AnD dEmAnD.” It’s a fairly jejune argument that doesn’t really take into consideration large companies’ roles in creating an artificially low price-point from which they are now benefitting at the expense of the coffee farmers. Never mind that this fawning over the most basic principle as the economic end-all-be-all in no way justifies paying below the cost of production.
But supply and demand is nonetheless the reason given, and normally it is in relation to the bumper crop Brazil had over the past year or so. Brazil has produced so much coffee, the argument goes, that it is driving down the price of all coffee to bargain basement prices. They (and every other coffee farmer) are victims of their own success.