Estimates suggest that some 98
million bags or 76% of all coffee consumed
in the world (including that consumed in producing countries) is roast and
ground. In importing countries, about 75% of consumption is roast and ground,
and of this about 87% is roasted in-country.
The remainder is imported from producing countries or from other consuming
In some regions the cross-border trade in coffee roasted by consumers
themselves is growing strongly. The European Union dominates this trade, and in
2009 had 77% of world exports of
roasted coffee. Producing countries accounted for around 1.5%
of this trade in roasted coffee, the United States, Canada and
a small number of other countries made up the remaining 21.5%.
The market for roast and ground coffee is dominated by large multinationals
(Kraft Foods, Sara Lee/DE and Nestlé), despite the fact that in many countries
there has been a resurgence in small, locally based roasters. The bulk of roast
and ground coffee consumed in importing countries is blended (usually before
roasting), in order to ensure a certain uniformity in the finished product.
Blending increases the roasters’ flexibility, making them less dependent on one
source of supply. It also allows them to compensate for changes in the taste of
the coffee bean and to switch to other coffees if there are any problems with
availability or price. Roasting develops the coffee’s flavour and fragrance;
the higher the roast the more the flavour is developed. Lightly roasted beans
produce a thin, straw-coloured liquid with little flavour except perhaps
acidity, although the weight loss is less. A darker roast will give a dark
liquid, which may have lost acidity but has gained body and stronger flavour,
although the weight loss will be higher. The darker the roast, the greater the
cell destruction. This facilitates the extraction of solubles, but too dark a
roast merely leaves a burnt flavour.
Roast and ground coffee has a shorter shelf life than soluble coffee. It loses
quality the longer it is exposed to air, so it is frequently packed in vacuum
or gas-flushed packs.