Today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on: The dark story of poverty in your coffee cup.

In particular, it discusses the coffee paradox — i.e., how there could be a coffee boom in the consuming countries at the same time as a coffee crisis in the producing countries. Despite citing the impacts of the Vietnamese robusta glut and the Big Four coffee retailing giants, it goes on to suggest that, “One inescapable conclusion is that the coffee paradox exists because what coffee farmers sell and what consumers buy are becoming increasingly ‘different’ coffees. It is not material bean quality that coffee consumers pay for. It is mostly symbolic quality and in-person services.”

It also makes mention of the National Federation of Coffee Growers in Colombia, which has opened retail coffee shops under the Juan Valdez name in a few U.S. locations. The truth is that the only people who believe Colombia grows “the richest coffee in the world” are the Colombians and the brainwashed marketing subjects of years of Juan Valdez TV commercials. But you cannot fault their intentions.

If Juan Valdez says so, it must be true!

UPDATE: April 8, 2010
It may have taken them four years to notice, but someone from Slate finally set foot in Colombia and asked, “Hey — what’s this Juan Valdez thing all about here?”: Remember Colombian coffee-picker Juan Valdez? He has a new job. – By Daniel Gross – Slate Magazine. The same article was regurgitated the next day in Newsweek — but with a misleading, sensationalist headline: Can Colombia’s Juan Valdez Challenge Starbucks? – Daniel Gross –