What if everyone stopped drinking coffee?

2 11 2013

The economy doesn’t make sense in my eyes.  It’s something I enjoy thinking about and I wanted to share this thought with you.

What if everyone, tomorrow, stopped drinking coffee?  What would be the impact to the economy?

Aside from a very small group of people (military, boat captains, anyone required to remain focused for 12 hours or more per day), I posit that coffee is wholly unnecessary.  Some may call BS, say that they need their coffee, but I bet if they gave it up for a week and found some more time to sleep by cutting something out of their lives, they would feel a lot better and laugh at the thought that they needed coffee.

So back to the question at hand, what would happen if the world dropped coffee?  A quick google search says in 2011 Starbucks employed ~150,000 people, and that’s just one chain.  Just as a quick estimate let’s say 300,000 people worldwide have a job directly tied to the selling of coffee.  So, 300,000 people, roughly the population of Anaheim, CA, are now out of a job.  Everyone that grows coffee beans is now out of a job (but they can re-purpose their land).  Everyone that ships coffee, builds coffee makers, and sells anything coffee related (filters, creamer, etc) has lost some if not all their business, and likely sitting on a lot of now useless inventory (although they can slowly unload that on the small number of people that actually require coffee).  In essence, the economy would be negatively affected.  Update: if you believe Business Insider over 25 million people have jobs directly tied to coffee.

So the global economy is going to take a small but noticeable hit and hundreds of thousands of lives will be affected.  But in reality, what’s changed in the world?  The same amount of farm land would exist, the same semi trucks and shipping aircraft would still exist, and in essence if you think about the resources of the planet, they would all actually increase.  More farm land freed up by not growing coffee.  300,000 plus people now free to work other jobs.  A few dollars a day extra in every coffee drinker’s pocket.

And yet, the way our economy is set up, despite all the positives, this would be a negative event.  Weird right?


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