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From Bean to Brew: The Coffee Supply Chain

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Coffee Supply Chain

What Does The Coffee Supply Chain Look Like?

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There’s a good chance your day started with a cappuccino, or a cold brew, and you aren’t alone. In fact, coffee is one of the most consumed drinks on the planet, and it’s also one of the most traded commodities.

According to the National Coffee Association, more than 150 million people drink coffee on a daily basis in the U.S. alone. Globally, consumption is estimated at over 2.25 billion cups per day.

But before it gets to your morning cup, coffee beans travel through a complex global supply chain. Today’s illustration from Dan Zettwoch breaks down this journey into 10 distinct steps.

Coffee From Plant to Factory

There are two types of tropical plants that produce coffee, both preferring high altitudes and with production primarily based in South America, Asia, and Africa.

  • Coffea arabica is the more plentiful bean, with a more complex flavor and less caffeine. It’s used in most specialty and “high quality” drinks as Arabica coffee.
  • Coffea canephora, meanwhile, has stronger and more bitter flavors. It’s also easier to grow, and is most frequently used in espressos and instant blends as Robusta coffee.

However, both types of beans undergo the same journey:

  1. Growing
    Plants take anywhere from 4-7 years to produce their first harvest, and grow fruit for around 25 years.
  2. Picking
    The fruit of the coffea plant is the coffee berry, containing two beans within. Ripened berries are harvested either by hand or machine.
  3. Processing
    Coffee berries are then processed either in a traditional “dry” method using the sun or “wet” method using water and machinery. This removes the outer fruit encasing the sought-after green beans.
  4. Milling
    The green coffee beans are hulled, cleaned, sorted, and (optionally) graded.

From Factory to Transport

Once the coffee berry is stripped down to green beans, it’s shipped from producing countries through a global supply network.

Green coffee beans are exported and shipped around the world. In 2018 alone, 7.2 million tonnes of green coffee beans were exported, valued at $19.2 billion.

Arriving primarily in the U.S. and Europe, the beans are now prepared for consumption:

  1. Roasting
    Green beans are industrially roasted, becoming darker, oilier, and tasty. Different temperatures and heat duration impact the final color and flavor, with some preferring light roasts to dark roasts.
  2. Packaging
    Any imperfect or somehow ruined beans are discarded, and the remaining roasted beans are packaged together by type.
  3. Shipping
    Roasted beans are shipped both domestically and internationally. Bulk shipments go to retailers, coffee shops, and in some cases, direct to consumer.

Straight to Your Cup

Roasted coffee beans are almost ready for consumption, and by this stage the remaining steps can happen anywhere.

For example, many factories don’t ship roasted beans until they grind it themselves. Meanwhile, cafes will grind their own beans on-site before preparing drinks. The rapid growth of coffee chains made Starbucks the second-highest-earning U.S. fast food venue.

Regardless of where it happens, the final steps bring coffee straight to your cup:

  1. Grinding
    Roasted beans are ground up in order to better extract their flavors, either by machine or by hand. The preferred fineness depends on the darkness of the roast and the brewing method.
  2. Brewing
    Water is added to the coffee grounds in a variety of methods. Some involve water being passed or pressured through the grounds (espresso, drip) while others mix the water and grounds (French press, Turkish coffee).
  3. Drinking
    Liquid coffee is ready to be enjoyed! One average cup takes 70 roasted beans to make.

The world’s choice of caffeine pick-me-up is made possible by this structured and complex supply chain. Coffee isn’t just a drink, after all, it’s a business.

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Finance

Ranked: The World’s 50 Largest Private Equity Firms

In this graphic, we show the largest private equity firms in the world—from titan Blackstone to China’s leading alternative funds.

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The World’s 50 Largest Private Equity Firms

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2023, private equity firms controlled $8.2 trillion in assets globally according to McKinsey & Company, a figure that has rapidly expanded since the industry first emerged 40 years ago.

As large investors such as pension funds and insurance companies increasingly look to private markets, these alternative asset managers have seen their assets grow by more than twofold in the last five years.

This graphic shows the top 50 private equity firms worldwide, based on data from Private Equity International (PEI).

The Top 50 Private Equity Firms

To determine the rankings, private equity firms were defined as those that raise capital with the purpose of directly investing in businesses, covering diversified private equity, venture capital, growth equity, buyouts, along with turnaround or control-oriented distressed investment capital.

The ranking does not include funds of funds, private investment in public equity (PIPE), or funds that follow a secondaries, real estate, infrastructure, hedge fund, debt or mezzanine strategies.

Below, we show the 50 biggest private equity companies around the world, measured by the scale of capital raised over the five-year period ending March 31, 2023:

RankingFund ManagerCityCapital Raised
1BlackstoneNew York$125.6B
2KKRNew York$103.7B
3EQTStockholm$101.7B
4Thoma BravoChicago$74.1B
5The Carlyle GroupWashington DC$69.7B
6TPGFort Worth$55.0B
7Advent InternationalBoston$52.9B
8HgLondon$51.0B
9General AtlanticNew York$48.7B
10Warburg PincusNew York$48.5B
11Silver LakeMenlo Park$48.3B
12Goldman SachsNew York$45.4B
13Bain CapitalBoston$44.3B
14Clearlake Capital GroupSanta Monica$44.0B
15CVC Capital PartnersLuxembourg$41.8B
16Vista Equity PartnersAustin$41.5B
17Clayton, Dubilier & RiceNew York$41.1B
18Hellman & FriedmanSan Francisco$40.9B
19Insight PartnersNew York$40.2B
20Leonard Green & PartnersLos Angeles$39.6B
21Permira AdvisersLondon$34.8B
22CinvenLondon$32.7B
23Brookfield Asset ManagementToronto$31.2B
24Nordic CapitalSaint Helier$31.1B
25Genstar CapitalSan Francisco$29.9B
26Francisco PartnersSan Francisco$28.3B
27Tiger Global ManagementNew York$28.3B
28Blue Owl CapitalNew York$27.2B
29Partners GroupZug$26.7B
30Ares ManagementLos Angeles$26.6B
31Hillhouse Capital GroupSingapore$26.4B
32L CattertonGreenwich$24.1B
33Neuberger Berman
Private Markets
New York$23.7B
34PAI PartnersParis$23.7B
35TA AssociatesBoston$23.5B
36Apollo Global ManagementNew York$22.8B
37Stone Point CapitalGreenwich$22.3B
38BC PartnersLondon$20.3B
39Adams Street PartnersChicago$20.2B
40BlackRockNew York$19.9B
41BDT & MSD PartnersChicago$19.5B
42Veritas CapitalNew York$19.0B
43BridgepointLondon$18.0B
44ArdianParis$17.9B
45HarbourVest PartnersBoston$17.5B
46China Reform Fund
Management Corporation
Beijing$16.8B
47Andreessen HorowitzMenlo Park$16.7B
48Thomas H. Lee PartnersBoston$16.0B
49Summit PartnersBoston$16.0B
50PSG EquityBoston$15.8B

Private equity titan Blackstone is the top in the United States and the world, raising $125.6 billion in capital from 2018 to 2023.

Headquartered in New York, Blackstone’s total assets under management stood at $991 billion as of the first quarter of 2023, and have since surpassed $1 trillion this year. For perspective, this is comparable to the GDP of the Netherlands.

Following next in line are KKR and Sweden’s EQT, each raising over $100 billion. In fact, this was the first time three firms achieved this $100 billion equity-raise milestone in PEI’s ranking over a five-year period. This was particularly notable given a challenging fundraising landscape amid higher borrowing costs and lagging dealmaking activity.

North American Firms Dominate Private Equity

As we can see, the vast majority of the biggest private equity firms are based in America, accounting for 36 of the top 50 firms globally. North American PE firms made up $1.34 trillion (72%) of the $1.85 trillion raised by the top 50 firms in the ranking.

Falling in second by a wide margin is Europe, with nine firms making up $179 billion (9.7%) of the total funds raised. Many of Europe’s largest private equity firms are based in London, England, with the most prominent asset managers in the city being Hg and Permira Advisors.

Across Asia, the top alternative investment firm was Singapore-based Hillhouse Capital Group, which launched in 2005. The firm has backed several internet companies spanning from Tencent, the largest publicly-traded company in China, to Baidu, but has faced increasing setbacks amid regulatory crackdowns and a sluggish Chinese stock market.

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