First blood in the US-CDN trade war : roasted coffee.

In the past few months, I’ve quite unintentionally managed to ascend the ladder of luxury goods in a fair few areas.i Despite my best efforts to stay grounded, modest, and humble, I don’t always succeed! So it is that Intelligentsia‘s roasted coffee has recently become a staple of my morning routine.ii But for how much longer ?

In the ongoing trade warz between anyone and everyone, it seems that the Tweeter-in-Chief‘s recent tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum have resulted in a fairly substantial counter-punch from Ottawa, one that just so happens to have ensnared my newly preferred California-roasted coffee beans.iii The net result of this little tit-for-tat is that my local bakery,iv from which I was sourcing the whole bean bags, will no longer be carrying the premium-priced Intelligentsia products once they sell out the remainder of their stock. Being the enterprising pro-scavenger sort of fellow that I am, I obviously cleared their shelves into the trunk of my car, but that will only last me so long, perhaps two months.v

Needless to say, the obvious alternative of sourcing roasted beans directly from Intelligentsia is surprisingly uneconomical, as this table aptly demonstrates :

Intelligentsia direct roasted coffee - 1
The “Bakery” price is so low in no small part because the list price of $17.50 included a “free” $5 latte with every purchase. This is a sweet deal!vi Compared to this sweet deal, the cheapest “Direct” offer is 72% more expensive, but even without it’s still 22% more expensive.vii

Not that I care that much about the price! My deeper concern with climbing the ladder of luxury goods is more about the fact that my enjoyment of more “normal” indulgences will be proportionately, perhaps even disproportionately, diminished. But maybe that’s not the end of the world ? I mean, so what if I’m that much more of a discerning aesthete ? Would that really make my life so much worse ? I’m already miles past being able to enjoy Cadillac, Crate & Barrel, Bose, and most other mid-range American goods, to say nothing of the low-end junk, so why don’t I just go whole hog on coffee ? Hell, I could probably find something that makes Intelligentsia look like McDonald’s swill!

Sigh… The amount of personal reflection catalysed by a pittling trade war, I tell ya…

beans on beans
___ ___ ___

  1. As you’d expect of one climbing the Hierarchy of Needs while also running at level 10.0 on the hedonic treadmill of life. []
  2. Intelligentsia’s just on another level compared to Kicking Horse and whatever else I used to buy on sale at the grocery store. But I guess that’s why all the delicious hipster cafes use it. []
  3. The complete list of newly tariffed American products is, to say the least, substantial. Effective July 1, 2018, it’s as follows :

    Items subject to 25 per cent:
    – Iron and non-alloy steel in ingots or other primary forms, including semi-finished products, flat-rolled products, bars and rods and wire.
    – Stainless steel ingots or other primary forms, including semi-finished products, flat-rolled products of stainless steel, bars and rods, angles, shapes and sections, and wire.
    – Other alloy steel in ingots or other primary forms, including semi-finished products, flat-rolled products, bars and rods, angles, shapes and sections, hollow drill bars and rods, wire.
    – Tubes and pipes, sheet piling, railway or tramway track construction material, pipe for oil or gas pipelines, casing or tubing used in drilling for oil or gas.

    Items subject to 10 per cent:
    – Food products, including yogurt, roasted coffee that is not decaffeinated, prepared meals of fowl or beef.
    – Sweets, including maple sugar and syrup, licorice candy, toffee, other sugar confectionery, including white chocolate, not containing cocoa, other chocolate in blocks — slabs or bar, filled or not filled.
    – Other foods, including pizza and quiche, cucumbers and gherkins, jams, jellies, strawberry jam, nut purees and pastes, berry purees, and other fruit purees other than banana puree.
    – Condiments, including soy sauce, tomato ketchup and other tomato sauces, prepared mustard, mayonnaise, salad dressing, mixed condiments and mixed seasonings, other sauces.
    – Soups and broths, mineral waters and aerated waters, containing added sugar or other sweetening matter or flavour.
    – Whiskey.
    – Personal grooming products, including manicure or pedicure preparations, hair spray, shaving and after-shave preparations, soaps and other skin washing products.
    – Household products, including room deodorizers, automatic dishwasher detergents, candles and tapers, other than those for birthdays, Christmas or other festive occasions; glues or adhesives sold in containers of under a kilogram, tableware and kitchenware, plastic household articles and hygienic or toilet articles, of plastic, toilet paper, handkerchiefs, cleansing or facial tissues and towels, tablecloths and serviettes, printed or illustrated postcards or greeting cards.
    – Hardware products, including insecticides and fungicides in packages under 1.36 kg each, plywood (other than bamboo), veneered panels and similar laminated wood.
    – Other steel or iron products, including beer kegs, or parts for stoves, ranges, grates, cookers and barbecues.
    – Aluminum bars, rods, wire, sheets, foil, tubes and pipes and pipe fittings, most aluminum structural pieces, aluminum reservoirs, tanks, vats and similar containers, including tanks for compressed or liquefied gas.
    – Aluminum kitchenware, including tables, scouring pads.
    – Appliances, including refrigerator-freezers fitted with separate external doors, instantaneous or storage water heaters, washing machines.
    – Miscellaneous items, including lawn mowers, electrical boards, panels, consoles, inflatable boats, sailboats, motorboats, mattresses, sleeping bags and other bedding, playing cards, ball point pens, felt tipped and other porous-tipped pens and markers.

    via huffpo. But maybe Trudeau will blink ?  []

  4. Bon Ton Bakery is my new spot and it’s every bit the equal of the old cattle-herding Boulangerie Bonjour in terms of sourdough bread quality. Bon Ton doesn’t have the same selection of fine cheeses Bonjour does, but Bonjour also doesn’t offer the fine coffees, ice cream, and broad selection of cakes and pastries that Bon Ton does. For what it’s worth, Bonjour is run by a Frenchman and his Japanese wife while Bon Ton is run by a Jewish-South-African husband and wife. Make of that what you will!  []
  5. While there are other sellers of whole bean bags of Intelligentsia elsewhere in the city, none are nearly so convenient and all of the ones I spoke to (ie. all of the ones I know of) are actively exploring alternatives. It’s far from inconceivable that there will be no retail sales in Edmonton come Christmas. []
  6. This deal is particularly sweet because 340g is pretty well exactly what I consume in a week (8-10 French Press carafes), which means that every weekend I can go to the bakery to buy two loaves of sourdough, one bag of roasted beans, a breadstick or two, and get a post-workout-pick-me-up-latte while I’m at it! []
  7. All “Direct” prices are converted to CAD from USD at 0.761 USD/CAD. []

One thought on “First blood in the US-CDN trade war : roasted coffee.

  1. […] challenged each other in a productive way. The endowment effectviii is also one that I seem to be (mostly) inherently immune to. While I fancy myself special enough in certain domains, I’ve never […]

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