Low on energy? Coffee bean shortage impacts Austin

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Supply chain challenges are causing cutbacks to caffeine worldwide, and it’s impacting Austin.

Many may have come across alerts on their Starbucks coffee app or signs like the one below at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport over the weekend.

“We are experiencing temporary supply shortages of some of our products. Specific items will vary by market and store, and some stores will experience outages of various items at the same time. We apologize for the inconvenience and are working quickly and closely with our supply chain vendors to restock items as soon as possible,” the company wrote in an email to KXAN.

The company would not provide more information on what products were out and in which locations.

Mozart’s Coffee Roasters said it prepared for this shortage.

To get its beans to Austin, Master Roaster Jack Ranstrom usually plans months ahead of time. This time, he bought his coffee contracts even earlier.

“I noticed that the shortages just were going deep into the year, so I went ahead and planned for a year on my Sumatra coffees,” Ranstrom said.

University of Texas supply chain expert Edward Anderson said one reason behind the coffee bean shortage is due to drought in places like Brazil, which is the world’s biggest producer.

“Some coffee regions… have only had half the rain that they expected during the growing season,” said Anderson.

He said countries are dipping into their stockpiles to make up for that.

“So we’re getting our coffee, but we’re running out of our stockpile,” he explained.

And then there’s another problem: shipping containers.

“Because of the surge in demand post-COVID and congestion in ports, there’s a shortage of those, and without those… can’t transport coffee,” Anderson said.

Ranstrom said while he’s seen impacts on coffee crops from things like bugs and droughts in the past, the shipping container challenges have pushed prices up across the board.

“That’s been totally different than anything I’ve ever experienced,” Ranstrom said.

Mozart’s owner said they’re paying about $15,000 more per week for coffee.

So far, they’re absorbing those costs so customers can still enjoy their beverages for the same price; it just may have a slightly different taste that Ranstrom said most people probably won’t notice.

“There’s going to be substitutions in blends and substitutions in single origin coffees, and there are going to be some flavor offsets,” he said.

The owner of Mozart’s Coffee Roasters said they plan to re-evaluate whether or not they will need to increase menu prices in the fall. By that time he expects to shell out about $100,000 in extra coffee costs alone.

According to the International Coffee Organization, average prices rose by more than 10% in May, the highest monthly average since 2017.

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