When it comes to the top commodities in the world, a few immediately come to mind...oil, copper, and gold, for instance. But did you know that coffee is very close to the top of that list? Coffee is one of the most highly traded goods on the planet. Billions of dollars are exchanged worldwide every year in the coffee business. Countries like Costa Rica and Panama rely on the trade of coffee to help their economy grow. More importantly, there are millions of people all over the globe who grow coffee on small plots (sometimes as small as half an acre) and use the profits to help their families survive. So how does gourmet coffee make the world better? In recent years, there has been a trend to move away from the old system of supermarket-brand, sub-par coffee to a new appreciation of coffee as a specialty item. Rather than trying to get coffee as cheaply as possible, which sacrifices quality, people are realizing the value of specialty coffee. There is such a wide range of flavors that can be found in gourmet coffee; you can tell a huge difference between Mexico 'Spirit of the Aztec' and Sumatra 'Black Satin.' People are appreciating these distinctions more and more, creating an increase in demand for unique coffees. It's no longer about drinking over-roasted, flavorless black coffee; people want high-quality, delicious coffee that has a distinct background and history. Coffee drinkers want to know what makes their coffee special. Think of it this way; more people are beginning to treat coffee like they treat wine. The price may go up a bit, but the better quality is worth it. The slight increase in price (which amounts to just a few more cents per cup) is a fantastic innovation for specialty coffee farmers. More money is finding its way into their hands, meaning they can improve their coffee-growing techniques by buying the tools they need to expand and thrive. They can improve their coffee yield, leading to a cycle of expansion that helps lift many coffee families out of rural poverty. That means more coffee, better selection, and better lives for the coffee growers. Keep in mind that plenty of coffee is bought and sold for specific causes, as well. Organic coffee is sold at a higher price, but the sustainable nature of its cultivation makes it a desirable product. There are also bird-friendly and shade-grown varietals, which use natural resources to help gourmet coffee grow in natural environments. Fair-trade coffee puts more money in the hands of the coffee growers by ensuring that they are paid fairly for their coffee yield.