A cup of coffee on average in the U.S. costs about $3, which in the global market can buy more than a pound of unroasted coffee beans. Nevertheless, the farmers do not receive adequate benefit from the transaction. On average, farmers are receiving less than 17% of the revenue from the sales of coffee. Such low rate of return for the farmers has led to a significant reduction in coffee production by 13.8% in 2013-2014 in Costa Rica. Smallholder farmers are forced to leave their homelands in search for better opportunities in urban centers or in other countries.
Amidst this crisis, the groups that are heavily affected by such a change in the coffee farming communities are women farmers. Although women are doing 70-80% of the work, they have historically received less support in the form of financing, training, and market accessibility. Women experience restrictions in their duties due to societal expectations. This does not allow them to participate in active decision making, which also affects their financial capacity to invest in their family. Research has shown that increased income for women is more likely to be translated to improvements in child education, nutrition, and health for the betterment of the communal living.
Moreover, while there are myriads of benefits engendered through increased exchange of goods and information, the developed countries still remain the biggest recipients of the benefits from these trades. The traditional structure of exchange has the less developed countries export their primary goods (for e.g. green coffee beans) at a very low price to more developed countries who, then produce manufactured goods to export back to these less developed countries at a higher price. This structure has led to challenges such as: unequal development and distribution of wealth in the world and social problems such as poverty and illiteracy as consequences of such imbalance. This pattern also means that a large proportion of the revenue from the sales of coffee go to roasters and intermediaries that often do not represent the coffee farming communities.