It is through the exporting of coffee from the grower country that the beans end up in your early morning cuppa. Coffee cultivation and export from the areas of production has increased constantly, especially over the last century. Coffee is drunk in virtually every country in the world, which means it is important for porudcer and consumer alike. It is a huge business being second only to oil in international trade. In particular, the economies of many developing countries depend largely on coffee exports, the mainstay of their standard of living and national prosperitiy.

The principal coffee markets are the New York and London Commodity Exchanges, which trade Arabica and Robusta respectively. Naturally, the price of coffee varies in relation to supply and demand. It is influenced not only be the quality and quantity of the coffee produced, but also by atmospheric factors (freezing temperatures, for example) and changes in the political order.

Before coffee beans are shipped, however, they inevitably have to be stored somewhere. In order to prevent them spoiling or losing quality, a number of precautions have to be taken. These include paying particular attention to humidty, storage facility location and storage duration.

Preferably, the safest place to store coffee is in the vicinity of its native site i.e. a relatively high altitude with a typically low air moisture. Because it is normally too humid, beans are not usually separated from their husk (sun-dried pulp) or hull (parchment membrane) until the moment before sending them to the harbour.

Coffee beans should be stored in low moisture conditions so as not to be attack by mould. The maximum water level safe in the bean is 12% by weight. After reaching this through thorough drying any re-wetting and airborne moisture absorption must be prevented (e.g. rain, fog, condensation).

Raw coffee beans are often stored for years before roasting. Their sturdy structure usually prevents them from being spoiled by external agents, however, nothing can be done against the inherent biochemical activity in the seed. In this case, some minor compoonents transform into other components which seem to taste woody and harsh after roasting.

The coffee beans are therefore stored in specially controlled covered warehouses near to where they were grown. When ready to be shipped, they are moved by conventional transportation to the docks. There, stevedores experienced in the careful handling of coffee see that the bags are properly stowed aboard the ship ready for their journey. More than 1/3 of the world's coffee is address to the USA, followed next by Germany.

The top export grade of bean is SHB (strictly hard bean) or strictly high grown, which means that the coffee beans are produced at a minimum altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level.

Between five and six million tons of unroasted or 'green' coffee are produced each year. Beans are often kept and transported in coarse hessian bags. Beans are also shipped in bulk using bulk containers with plastic liners. On arrival in the destination country, the shipments are sent to warehouses or direct to the roaster.