Insights & News

​That Cup of Coffee Has a 30,000 Mile Long Supply Chain—and We Make Sure Every One of Those Miles Goes Smoothly

Posted On January 30, 2017

Before that cup of Starbucks coffee makes the most important part of its journey—the one from the cup into your caffeine-deprived early-morning body—it’s traveled quite a distance. In fact, that cup of coffee has traveled more than the entire circumference of the earth.

That information comes from Edward Humes, author of Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation. Humes, who has previously written books on education, the justice system, and even garbage, studied transportation and logistics to get a better sense of the role supply chains play in creating the modern world.

What he found was pretty surprising.

It’s not just coffee that makes an incredible journey before making it to the consumer. An iPhone, with its individually sourced components, has traveled a total of 500,000 miles before we use it for Snapchatting, work emails, and all of the other things we use iPhones for. And a typical vehicle and its individual components have already traveled more than 250,000 miles before it even has one mile on the odometer. That’s a little more than the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

Humes writes that transportation is the forgotten component to our economy, that consumers have an assumption that products somehow arrive magically at their door after they click “purchase” on Amazon. If consumers think about transportation at all, their thoughts are limited to that final journey from the warehouse to their house.

Each of those 30,000 miles a coffee bean travels represents a potential hazard. iPhone or vehicle components can get held up in customs—and even one of those holdups can create a significant loss of value.

In fact, Humes writes that even minor delays for UPS trucks result in millions of dollars in losses for the company.

If a five-minute UPS delay can wreak havoc, imagine an unexpected daylong delay in some faraway customs facility.

Humes’ book is good reading, and informative for a general public that really has no idea how complex modern supply chains are—and how important they are to the world economy. But shipping and logistics managers know the reality. You know how critical each mile is, how damaging delays can be, and how important it is to have visibility throughout your supply chain. You know what a customs delay can mean, and how important it is to have a partner who knows how to resolve challenging issues.

You also know how important it is that the goods you’re shipping are protected by high-quality, durable crates that are compliant with international standards. And you know how important it is to have a logistics and transportation management partner who can make your entire supply chain as efficient and effective as possible.

Flat World Holdings is that partner. Our family of companies—Flat World Supply Chain, Flat World Hospitality, Ram International, Ram Custom Crating, and Prologue Technology—are here to make sure that the journey over thousands of miles (or even hundreds of thousands of miles) your products travel goes smoothly. At Flat World Holdings, we make excellence in everything a priority. Because whatever you make, your customers shouldn’t feel a single mile of that journey.

And neither should you.