Bad news for caffeine addicts

Ryan Young

Caffeine addicts beware. The skyrocketing cost of green, or unroasted, coffee beans has caused many businesses to consider price hikes.

The International Coffee Organization reports that while prices were fairly average at the beginning of the year, with $1.27 being the composite average cost per pound in January, prices have risen at an uncharacteristic rate since. As of Oct. 1, the organization puts costs at around $1.61 a pound.

Kent’s Starbucks, however, will not be affected by the increase. “Around these parts, nothing will be raising,” said manager John Richardson.

When asked why, he said that he was not allowed to comment further. In an e-mail from Starbucks’ press team, the company said that it “does not break out market specifics,” but that they will “continue to monitor factors that affect pricing on a market-by-market basis.”

The Starbucks Coffee Company announced in a press release last month that they would be increasing prices in some markets.

“And while many, if not most, coffee roasters and retailers began raising prices months ago, we have thus far chosen to absorb the price increases ourselves and not pass them on to our customers,” said Howard Shultz, president of Starbucks Coffee Company. “But the extreme nature of the cost increases has made it untenable for us to continue to do so.”

“They’re already pretty expensive here,” said Patrick Phillips, a 26-year-old psychology major waiting for his venti frozen mocha at Starbucks. “I guess if the prices went up, I’d go wherever was cheapest,” he said.

The current price for a small coffee at Scribbles, as well as Starbucks, is $1.50.

Local coffee retailers like Scribbles, Anthony’s Cafe and Cakes and The Wild Goat’s Café have not been immune to distributor’s swelling prices either. At Scribbles, a sign politely informs patrons that they will no longer be able to enjoy the bottomless cup of coffee previously offered.

“We had to get rid of the bottomless cup because it was the one thing that could cut costs without us raising drink prices,” said Sandy Wilson, co-owner of Scribbles. She also said that although most customers understood, “Some people were not happy.” But most Scribbles customers are more loyal than the average coffee consumer.

“It’s a more relaxed atmosphere, not as crowded as Starbucks, and I can study here,” said Sloan Salustro, 27, of Kent.

Salustro also said that if prices increased at Scribbles he would still come back.

At the Wild Goat’s Café, Charlie Ciborek is worried that prices may have to go up too. Considering the increase in price from Caruso Coffee, Wild Goat’s distributor, Ciborek said, “It’s possible that we may have to increase prices, but not more than $2.00 for any size.”

The price hike could come as soon as November for the café, whose current price for a small cup of joe is $1.65.

Anthony’s Coffee and Cakes, where $1.40 for a small coffee is the cheapest of the local shops, plans to slightly raise prices on all menu items by Christmas.

“People come in and drink more than the one free refill, and it hurts us because of the cream and sugar that go into it,” said owner Anthony Kwan.

In Kent’s small economy, the four main coffee shops have gone against market trends in an attempt to not pass on price increases to customers. But for local businesses, eventual price increases could mean a decrease in clientele.

“Our goal is to keep the price where it is for the college kids,” said Wilson. “We have our coffee shipped fresh weekly, and we sell it at the best price we can offer.”

Contact Ryan Young at [email protected].