Would You Pay More for Eco-Friendly Coffee?

Would You Pay More for Eco-Friendly Coffee?

What influences the amount you’re willing to pay for specialty coffee? Researchers from the University of Gavle in Sweden and the University of Chicago in the U.S. think they know. They’ve found that two little words on the label can make your coffee taste better – and make you willing to pay more for the beans? Could those words be Micro Lot? Fair Trade? Kopi Luwak?

The answer is none of the above.

Participants in the study were asked to rate two types of coffee after being told that one of them was “eco-friendly.” People who said they cared about the environment rated the eco-friendly coffee higher in flavor 74% of the time, and said they’d be willing to pay up to 25% more for it. The catch? Both coffee samples were the exact same. Apparently, thinking your coffee is sustainably grown makes it taste better.

In a second round of experiments, researchers didn’t identify the “eco-friendly” option until after participants had made their choices. In that case, half of the participants were told that the coffee they preferred was eco-friendly. The other half were told that the other coffee was the eco-friendly choice. They were then asked if they’d be willing to pay a premium for the eco-friendly coffee – which, remember, actually was the exact same coffee prepared the exact same way. People who had rated high on a scale measuring their commitment to sustainability were still willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly coffee, even if they had rated the non-eco-friendly coffee to be much better in taste. People who scored lower on the sustainability scale were willing to pay a premium for the eco-friendly coffee if they were told that it was the coffee they liked better.

Researchers also ran an experiment to determine whether anonymity made a difference in the ratings participants gave to the eco-friendly vs. non-eco-friendly coffee. They found that there was no difference at all in preference and willingness to pay more for eco-friendly coffee between the public group and the anonymous group.

We happen to believe that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for sustainability. Our roasters consistently prove that sustainable coffee – whether you call it eco-friendly, organic, bird friendly or shade grown – simply tastes better than coffee grown using high-production factory farm methods. When you choose to pay a premium for eco-friendly coffee, you’re also treating yourself to some of the best coffee grown throughout the world.

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