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Coffee Economics with Karl Gets Into Coffee Prices

coffee economics prices

It’s been nearly two years since we last featured “Coffee Economics with Karl” on these digital pages, and a lot has gone down since then — both with prices and with Karl.

Karl Weinhold, the author of the book Cheap Coffee, is now more than two years deep into his PhD research at the Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal) addressing the economics of the coffee trade.

“My PhD research attempts to explain the evolution of livelihoods (via prices) at different points along the coffee chain and evaluate the sources and manifestations of power asymmetry,” Weinhold recently told DCN. “In the process, I’ve been looking deeply into the origins of prices, the indicators, derivative exchanges and theoretical concepts of prices and values. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to interpret prices and their appropriateness.”

Thus, Karl has brought back his YouTube channel to share some of these thoughts with the general public, offering a unique perspective that blends academic research with his lived experience as a coffee professional working at various points in the value chain. (Wienhold founded Cedro Alto coffee farmers collective in Colombia before returning to academia.)

Karl has thus far published two of four episodes in his latest mini-series on coffee, with the first addressing the question, “Where does the ‘market price’ come from?” and the second tackling the question, “How do coffee exchanges work?”

When asked who these videos are designed for, Weinhold told DCN that they may be of interest to any folks who are subjected to mainstream pricing institutions that “tell us what something is ‘worth.'”

“I hope these might inspire people to be aware of where prices come from, who benefits from them, how fair prices are justified and question the mainstream paradigms that only exist in our minds as a collective,” Wienhold said. “The status quo only seems immovable because there is a consensus that it is valid, and that consensus is reproduced every morning that people wake up and continue to believe in it. That could all change tomorrow, if we want it to.”

The first two videos in the new Coffee Prices series are embedded above. See all of Karl’s videos here (YouTube), or check out DCN’s past “Coffee Economics with Karl” coverage.

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