I'm not a Seattle or National roaster, but I'll chime in. Yes commodity prices were lower this Spring than they were last year, but here are just three influences that put upward pressure on the price of specialty coffees during the buying season earlier this year:
- Shortages on Centrals and Colombians due to weather
- While demand on the commodity side probably grew at slower rates than expected due to the macroeconomic situation, everything I've read indicates that the specialty market continued to grow strongly.
- Ethiopia. I'm not even going to attempt to intelligently elaborate further on that one, but they were priced high!
I think it's fair to say that there are a number of human or interpersonal forces (as opposed to more conventional market forces) and supply chain security related forces that behave as buoys on specialty coffee prices and keep contract prices from falling simply due to input costs dropping on the production side. As we all are aware, specialty coffee is very much different from a strict commodity trade.
To me it's perfectly reasonable to accept that Seattle specialty retailers' costs are up while commodities are down. That said, there's probably an ICO report I haven't seen that elaborates on this further.