COFFEE PRICES: Can the Jumping Bean Be Tamed?

OF all the drinks consumed in the U.S., coffee is by far the most popular. Three out of four Americans drink at least one cup each day, last year downed an estimated 100 billion cups, worth more than $1.9 billion. But America's most popular drink also produces some of its biggest price headaches. Within three short months last winter, housewives found retail coffee prices suddenly shooting up from 91¢ a Ib. to an average of $1.31 (TIME, April 12). Just as suddenly last week, coffee started plummeting, with industry-wide price cuts up to 18¢ a Ib.

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