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Kansas City coffee shops battle rising inflation, climate change

Coffee shops in Kansas City continue to fight through rising costs
Posted at 9:52 AM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-28 11:00:52-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City coffee shops are adapting to the impact inflation and climate change have on the industry.

Spokes Café owner Dan Walsh says costs to run his shop have dramatically increased since the start of the pandemic, coupled by inflation and supply chain issues.

"You're always figuring things out as a small business owner,” Walsh explained. “It kind of feels like piling on.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports the price of ground roast coffee was $6.23 a pound for the month of August, the highest it’s been in 10 years, but Walsh isn’t just battling an increase in coffee.

Milk, sweetener, coffee cups, lids and sugar have all increased, leading Walsh to pour more money in operation costs.

For example, a case of 20 ounce cups used to cost him $44.99 in 2020, the exact same case is now $87.97. Walsh said a case of lids used to be $31.19, he’s now forking over $64.11.

“There's been shortage of some of those things, and then some of that has to do with just materials going up,” Walsh said.

The Roasterie is also on the grind against an increase in its operations and specialty coffee costs. Purchasing speciality coffee allows the Roasterie to deal with farmers directly to obtain a fair price, but other issues are filtering through. The KC coffee giant gets some of their coffee from all over the world including Brazil, which was recently impacted by weather changes.

"They had a very, very low crop because frost moved through Brazil in areas where frost hasn't been seen ever after the frost is done,” said Joe Marrocco, VP coffee sourcing and product development at the Roasterie, “Coffee trees are dead and they can't be regrown, it takes about five years for those trees and for nutrients to grow and produce coffee."

The Roasterie raised its prices by 10% to 15% across the board, while Spoke will be increasing its prices by 15% in the next six weeks.

"At some point you have to realize if your cost if some of your materials go up by 100%, the cost of a cup of coffee is going to be more expensive," Walsh said.

Even with the increase in price The Roasterie says sales remain strong, and with coffee farms fighting labor shortages, it says paying more for your cup of joe is having an instant impact on labor costs.

“Any increase that you see at the commodity level, it's like a tide that lifts all the coffee prices, we actually celebrate that lift in coffee prices because it means that we can pay the farmers that are growing the coffee much more that incentivizes those workers to come back and start tending to harvest again,” explained Marrocco.