When coffee travels from tree to cup, it will most likely spend some time in warehouses. First the beans need to be stored at the producing farm, then at the port of the country of origin, and eventually at the port of destination and the roasters’ warehouse. We will take a look at the goldmine where the lion’s share of 32cup’s spot coffee is stored: the Port of Antwerp. In Part 2 we concentrate on the Current Situation of the Port.

Current Situation

Due to its inland location, Antwerp is different from other European ports as it enjoys a more central location in Europe. This facilitates the distribution of freight to the hinterland by rail (11% of freight), waterways (33%) and road (56%). As a result the port of Antwerp has become one of Europe’s largest sea ports, ranking second behind Rotterdam by total freight shipped. Its influence reaches from the Benelux to France to Central Europe.

Although Rotterdam handles twice as much traffic as the Port of Antwerp, the added value created by the 900 logistics companies in Antwerp is just as great. The Port of Antwerp therefore offers the biggest storage offer (5.5 million square meters) in Northwest Europe.

The logistics activities of the service providers in the port offer many advantages. As a part of the Port’s integrated supply chain, they ensure that the freight gets to the end customer in a reliable and cost efficient way. All logistics activities are IT supported to guarantee the quality and the visibility of the supply chain.

 Port Of Antwerp Sunset



The port of Antwerp has the largest stockpiles of coffee in the world. In the latest reports (2009-2012), the total coffee stocks in Antwerp warehouses varied between 4.5 and 8.5 million bags, which is more than Bremen, Hamburg, Genova, Le Havre and Trieste combined. Furthermore, the Port of Antwerp expanded its storage space for coffee and other soft commodities to up to 1 million square meters (10.8 million square feet), including space for up to 10,5 million bags of coffee.

Moreover, Antwerp now has centuries of experience in the handling, storing and moving of coffee, which makes this Port a safe haven for green beans. From the Antwerp warehouses, the coffee is made available to roasting houses, traders and futures markets. Again, a lot of added value services are offered: bulking, bagging, re-palletising, foil protecting, pre-blending, pre-cleaning and transport. The warehouses are certified for the futures markets in London (LIFFE Robusta) and New York (NYBOT Arabica).



Port of Antwerp Map

1. Historical location of the port
2. First industrial development of the Left Bank (end of 1950s)
3. Port and industrial development of the Right Bank (Accomplished in the 1980s)
4. Port and industrial development of the Left Bank (started 1960s, still ongoing)
5. Future development site: Saefthinge Development Area expansion: 1070 hectares


Facts and Figures:

– 64,000 jobs in the Port itself.
– 155,000 jobs in Flanders in general.
– 8.66 million TEU (Twenty feet Equivalent Units) in 2011.
– Largest port area in the world: 13,057 ha.
– Largest sealock in the world (Berendrechtsluis): 603,500 m³ volume.
– Largest port for fruit and coffee in the EU.
– Second port of the EU: 187,151,714 tons of goods in 2011.
– 156 kilometers of quay
– 1061 kilometers of rail track
– 10 Licensed Coffee ‘c’ Warehousing companies, covering 40 licensed coffee warehouses
– 1 million square meters coffee storage space, or space for 10.5 million bags.

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Sofie Nys Sofie Nys

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