This book recasts the so-called coffee paradox - the coexistence of a 'coffee boom' in consuming countries and of a 'coffee crisis' in producing countries. While coffee bar chains have expanded rapidly in consuming countries, international coffee prices have fallen dramatically and producers receive the lowest prices in decades. The paradox exists because what farmers sell and what consumers buy are increasingly 'different' coffees. It is not material quality that contemporary coffee consumers pay for, it is mostly symbolic quality and in-person services. As long as coffee farmers and their organizations do not control at least parts of this 'immaterial' production, they will keep receiving low prices.

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