The price of coffee is returning from orbit.
In an effort to woo back coffee-drinkers discouraged by last winter's high prices - Washington's coffee houses this month have been cutting prices - and profit margins - almost as fast as they once were raising them.
The Old Georgetown Coffee House (1330 Wisconsin Avenue N.W.) last week reduced prices on its specialty coffee brands by $1.50 per pound. At the Eagle Wine and Cheese Shop (3345 M Street N.W.) prices have dropped 95 cents since the first of the month in three rapid-fire drops, and more decreases are expected.
"We just went down another 35 cents yesterday," said Barb Lutyk, Eagle's manager, "and I haven't even had time yet to change the signs."
The price cuts here parallel a fall in prices nationwide. Colombia, the world's second-largest coffee producer, lowered the price of green beans for export by 35 cents a pound on June 17 and reduced wholesale prices by 30 cents. General Foods has also announced a reduction in coffee prices of 30 cents a pound.
These price breaks are the first interruption in runaway increases in retail costs which resulted from a frost that crippled Brazil's coffee trees in 1975. Industry observers have predicted the price of a pound of cofee will return to what it was two years ago by next year, but Marshall Iranata of the Swing M E Co. coffee shop (1013 E Street N.W.) says if the present downward trend continues, coffee may be selling again at $3 per pound by the fall.