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Coffee in Caracas

How hard is it to find coffee in Caracas? What is the cost of a cup of coffee in Caracas?

CNN tries to answer these questions with this brief video. My response to the video follows.

To start, CNN simplified the issue. For example, Minerva’s 40 BsF cup of coffee indeed costs $6, but that is calculated at the official rate which is only currently reserved for the most plugged in government officials who make tons of money from imports. Nobody calculates anymore at the official 6.3 rate. These days most local Venezuelans don’t calculate anything except how they are going to survive. They watch with horror as inflation speeds up and they worry about the economic strangulation it brings. Coffee is one thing. What if one chicken costs more than you make in a day, even when you are being paid 30% more than the minimum wage? No chicken.

Way on the other end of the spectrum, where we function, the parallel rate for the dollar is at 250 BsF. Which would put the cup of coffee at 16 cents. Or those four liters of milk she bought? About a dollar. And every day the chasm widens.

One thing that I like about the video is that the stores they have Minerva visit are in our neighborhood. I’ve had that very same cafe con leche at the panaderia on Calle Orinoco. The place she went ask for coffee is a little fruteria two doors down. Easy enough to stop in and ask if you are already at the panaderia, but one wouldn’t really expect to see coffee there, (though they used to sometimes have it). After the guy in the orange shirt (quite a nice man, by the way), denies her coffee request, she goes to Bicentenario which is a government grocery store in our neighborhood. They captured the reality of the lines, notably the fact that people stand in them without knowing what is even available at the store. The second supermarket she goes to is Plazas Express, located on the other end of Las Mercedes. Plazas is a private supermarket so they often have things that the government stores don’t, but the prices are higher and the lines are still way long when the most scarce items arrive.

It’s not easy to witness first hand the economic situation here, especially when you take the time to listen to the stories of the average person who is, after all, the one most affected by the instability. In the face of the difficulties our friends and neighbors are forced to endure we practice compassion and we focus on respecting the dignity of each individual who crosses our path.

2 comments on “Coffee in Caracas

  1. Kris
    April 15, 2015

    Did Minerva just make it look like she took a bus to go from the Panederia to the Fruteria? Little bit of lazy film-making there. She should have walked to Pan Aleman instead. Their cafe con leche (when they have leche) is my Saturday treat. Thanks for sharing this video. It was cool to see all our local shops on film. Interesting too were the price conversions that you mentioned. The ones shown in the video are totally unrealistic, but the price-reality here is so complex that it’s hard to pin down for any of us. We were talking about the cost of wine the other day in the library. Two years ago we could buy a nice bottle of Chilean vino for 80Bs and these days it’s 1600Bs (if you’re lucky). For us it’s actually cheaper now, but for many people it’s an impossible extravagance.

  2. Lily Beaumont
    April 15, 2015

    I can recommend the line at Chacao if in need of a kilo of freshly ground. You need to go on Saturday and the line is already long at 7:30 am! Im still on my hoarding supplies but I’m sure king david has some ready supplies too.
    It was fun to see the panderia and then the fruiteria immediately afterwards.

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This entry was posted on April 14, 2015 by in Michael and tagged .

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I'm a mom to an amazing little boy, wife to a supportive and adventurous husband, teacher in an international community, and lover of gardening, reading, cooking shows, lattes, and sharing.

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