A commodity is any good exchanged during commerce, which includes goods traded on a commodity exchange. There are 99 categories of commodities according to the International Trade Centre (ITC). Coffee is a sub category within "Coffee, tea, mate and spices," category 9 in their list. It has often been said that coffee is the second-most traded commodity on EARTH - but is this true?

No, coffee is not the second-most traded commodity on Earth, nor the second-most valued. Whether the measure is by quantity or value, coffee does not even make the top 100. We simply analyzed the statistical data on exported commodities that is available publicly from the ITC website from 2012 and 2013 to find these numbers. Coffee is traded at around 7 million tons for 29 billion dollars, being generous and rounding up. If we look at value, coffee is #111 on our list and if we look by quantity then coffee is #119 on our list.

We aren't sure where this rumor started, but a quick search in Google will return all sorts of myths about how much this commodity is traded and for what value. It's simply not true. Coffee is not scarce nor highly valued compared to other commodities, either.  

Now, this doesn't make coffee less amazing of course. I enjoy coffee in the mornings much, much more than I do things like sulfur, polycarboxylic acids, plywood, onions, palm oil, or an airplane. I'm sure you would agree coffee is just  better.

Please keep in mind that some commodity data is incomplete, so we are just running by what we had available. If we had more data, we believe around 50 more sub-categories would definitely exceed coffee's numbers and the most highly valued commodity might change. 

  • Coffee is #111 in value 
  • Coffee is #119 in quantity