Coffee is the world’s second most valuable traded commodity, only behind petroleum.

What role does coffee play in the global economy?

A: Coffee is the world’s second most valuable traded commodity, behind only petroleum. There are approximately 25 million farmers and coffee workers in over 50 countries involved in producing coffee around the world. Coffee was traditionally developed as a colonial cash crop, planted by serfs or wage laborers in tropical climates on large plantations of landowners for sale in colonial countries. Coffee producers, like most agricultural workers around the world, are kept in a cycle of poverty and debt by the current global economy designed to exploit cheap labor and keep consumer prices low. An estimated 11 million hectares of the world’s farmland are dedicated to coffee cultivation. The largest producer and exporter is Brazil, followed by Colombia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Mexico. Around the globe, the annual consumption of coffee has expanded to 12 billion pounds. For more information about the history of Latin America and coffee, see Coffee and Power by Jeffrey Paige (in bibliography)

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