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Coffee Roasters Using Robusta ‘Filler’ May Not Switch Back

The high coffee prices that extended into the first quarter of this year caused many large roasters to use lower-grade robusta beans as filler. But now that arabica premiums have dropped by 70 percent from their 2011 highs, the question is will those roasters be switching back.

Robusta and arabica coffee beansSources in a recent report from Reuters suggest the answer may be no, especially if consumers continue to buy robusta-filled products.

“What we’re realizing is that everybody underestimated the amount of demand in robusta because everybody thought … that there was just a (certain) amount of robusta people could add to their blends,” Ernesto Alvarez, chief executive of U.S.-based coffee merchant COEX Coffee International, which recently reopened an office in robusta producing Vietnam, told Reuters. “We used to be an arabica house completely. Five, six years ago we traded no robustas. Now it’s 40 percent of what we do.”

According to the International Coffee Organization data, U.S. robusta imports increased by some 80 percent in the first quarter of 2012, while arabica imports fell by some 30 percent in that time.

“If the consumer has accepted the product well, and it’s selling well, I don’t see them going back to a higher arabica content, unless something’s triggering it,” Carlos DeAldecoa, president of Maximus Coffee Group in Houston, told Reuters, speaking in general terms.

The full story: Reuters

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