Imperium Commodity Search works with coffee traders, merchants, producers and roasters globally with a strong knowledge of the speciality markets globally.  Our consultants have experience on headhunting coffee traders, sellers and merchants with a strong network in the space and have built a good understanding of the global landscape. 

We have a solid understanding of the coffee markets and can advise on career options as well as strategic hires globally.

Our Experience

View our showreel below to see some of the mandates our consultants have worked on within the coffee and wider soft commodity markets for our clients.

Coffee Trading

What is Coffee? 

Coffee in the form that we know it, is the roasted beans from the Coffea plant.  Coffea is a tropical shrub native to Tropical Africa and Asia, now also naturalised in parts of Latin America.  As a commodity, coffee is traded in both its raw (green) form as green coffee, as well as roasted variants across Robusta and Arabica beans.  Certain coffee grades and types are known as specialty or speciality coffee, referring to only the highest quality coffee beans.  

With over 2.25bn cups of coffee drunk each day around the world, the need for traders of this much relied on commodity is ever increasing.  Coffee consumption has increased year on year since the middle ages and it looks set to continue.   

Arabica Coffee

Arabica is the most commonly used coffee around the world, accounting for around 60% of annual global production.  Arabica Coffee comes from the Coffea Arabica or ‘Arabian Coffee’ plant. 

Robusta Coffee

Robusta makes up the rest of the global production quantities at 40% and has a higher crop yield than Arabica, also requiring less input through crop protection, pesticides etc.  Robusta also has a higher caffeine content than the more common Arabica.  Robusta coffee comes from the plant Coffea canephora. 

Green Coffee

Green coffee refers to coffee that has not yet been roasted.  Whilst most coffee that is produced will be roasted during its life, and sold to consumers, some green coffee is used in the food industry and is a popular health food, thought to lower blood pressure and help with weight loss. 

Specialty Coffee

In the western world, demand for specialty quality coffee is huge and now there are roasters across the US who produce purely specialty coffee for a discerning consumer base.  Specialty coffee is define as coffee that scores over 80 out of 100 points on the Coffee Review Scale.  In the US and Europe, organisations closely monitor the criteria for specialty coffee. 

Coffee is the second most sought-after commodity globally and accounts for around 100bn USD in trade each year.  Staggeringly, it is estimated that there are 125,000,000 families globally involved in the farming of coffee.  When you include the numbers involved in the trading, transportation, roasting and serving of coffee, this number almost triples.  

The largest coffee trading/markets companies globally are Nuemann Kaffee Gruppe (Germany), ECOM Agro (Switzerland), Olam (Singapore), Volcafe / ED&F Man (Switzerland), Louis Dreyfus / LDC (Netherlands) and Sucafina (Switzerland). 

How is Coffee traded? 

Coffee, like many agricultural products, has numerous small scale suppliers that sell into larger stockists/traders who trade in bulk.  Many coffee trading companies work with charities or foundations to ensure sustainability of the supply chain and offer assistance to farmers in countries of origin.  Sucafina, for example, work with the Kahawatu foundation on improving sustainability within local coffee farmers and producers. 

End to End / Back to Back Traders will have relationships on both the supply and sales side of coffee, typically working with farms in a specific region for the purchase of green coffee and then selling that into roasters.  Some traders will work with a company that roasts their own coffee, and thus be responsible for the purchase of the green coffee, as well as the sale of the roasted or finished coffee into the target sales markets of the firm.  

Sales / Business Development Managers commonly work with a specific type of coffee (often specialty) in a specific region, maintaining relationships with end users, coffee stores and chains and consumers to sell specialty coffee into those market participants.  

Merchandisers and Sourcing Agents operate similarly to those in grains, building relationships with farmers and producers for the purchase of green coffee of various grades, often visiting the farms, inspecting and tasting the coffee and then managing the bidding/purchase process from there.  This coffee will then usually be shipped in containers / bags overseas for roasting or resale.  

Futures are traded on the ICE (Intercontinental Exchange), NYMEX (New York Mercantile Exchange) and the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) and utilised by both proprietary/flow traders, and hedging specialists, who trade the futures markets for corporate clients to mitigate price risk on the physical markets.  

Where is Coffee traded?  

Coffee is traded into almost every country in the world and is one of the most consumed commodities globally with over 2 billion cups drunk per day.

The largest importers of coffee products are:


USA (US$5.7bn)
Germany (US$3.5bn)
France (US$2.8bn)
Italy (US$1.7bn)
Netherlands (US$1.3bn)

The worlds largest producers (in 60kg bags) of coffee are:


Brazil (51 million bags)Vietnam (28 million bags)
Colombia (14 million bags)
Indonesia (12 million bags)
Honduras (8 million bags)

Who are the clients? 

The vast majority of the coffee produced ends up with multinational producers of retail coffee drinks and powders as well as coffee chains such as Starbucks, Costa or Lavazza.  Other coffee is sold to specialty roasters and coffee boutiques.  

What is the Salary for a coffee trader? 

Coffee traders are either back to back or sales focused and are usually paid a base salary and a performance related bonus for their profitability or reaching certain targets.  Coffee trading offers a fairly swift growth in salary with seniority and experience compared to other commodities, with traders starting on around 60,000USD in salary, climbing to over 100,000USD + bonus with around 10 years experience on average.  Bonus is linked to performance and many coffee firms, particularly in the USA, are focused on small quantity, high margin specialty coffee, which can result in higher splits, bonus cheques and commissions for traders and sales personnel in those regions. 

Imperium Commodity Search – Specialist Headhunter to the global Coffee Trading Markets 

Imperium Commodity Search is experienced across all soft commodity and agricultural commodities, both in physical and derivative markets.  Our consultants have successfully managed mandates for coffee traders and sales personnel in the US during 2019 and continue to enjoy success across the ‘commodity’ and ‘specialty’ coffee markets. 

If you are interested in finding out how we can assist you in finding your next opportunity in the global coffee space, or are growing your sales or trading team and looking to onboard coffee specialists across any front, middle or back office position, then please call us now on +44 (0) 203 927 5090 or register online here and one of our Commodity Consultants will contact you ASAP.

View our current coffee trading, operations and support vacancies or contact one of our consultants to discuss current careers / jobs in coffee trading to discuss your needs in more detail. 

To arrange a consultation with a consultant to discuss your hiring needs / growth plans and where we can assist click here or contact one of our consultants directly here for a confidential discussion

Contact Us

We are here to help. Speak to one of our experienced coffee trading recruitment consultants now on +44 (0) 203 927 5090


Send us a message online and we will come back to you.

Sustainability & ESG

We are proud to bring a ‘first of kind’ ESG commitment as part of our guaranteed hire search process.  Partnering with Ripple Africa to plant trees, aid carbon neutrality and offer carbon credit certification we work with clients to recruit in a sustainable way that is unique to us.

Find out more on our Sustainability page