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Coffee hovers near a 12-month high but can the rally continue?

Justina Crabtree; special to
Boys picking coffee beans in the Orosi valley, Costa Rica, on April 23, 2016.
DeAgostini | Getty Images

With coffee prices still near the 12-month high they hit last month, analysts are contemplating whether the rally has further to run.

Analysts at Citi are still bullish on the market and have kept their outlook unchanged despite the recent price surge.

"For (Latin America) specialty crops such as sugar and coffee, prices are already 50 to 100 percent above 2015/16 multi-year lows, although ICE cocoa markets may weaken further into 2017," the research note said.

At its current levels of roughly 146 cents, coffee is about 5.7 percent from its high last month but is showing positive momentum, gaining over 3 percent for the week. Coffee hit a yearly high on July 15, falling at 154.80 cents, the highest level for coffee futures since February 2015.

But, others aren't so sure of a further uptick. A senior broker at a brokerage specializing in commodities told CNBC that they were much more "neutral" on the outlook for the coffee market.

Instead, the broker – who preferred not to be named due to uncertainty over his company's media clearance practice – pointed out a marked differential between Arabica and Robusta coffee, the latter of which is currently at a deficit. He expects the differential between these two coffee components to narrow.

Meanwhile, Citi attributes its perceived bullishness in coffee to the commodity being "buttressed by stabilizing South American currencies (e.g. the Colombian peso, the Brazilian real) and El Nino-related supply disruptions in recent quarters."

July's peak could be linked to market jitters following news that Brazil, one of coffee's largest producers, was to experience a cold snap. But, CNBC's unnamed broker said that frosts ultimately fell away from coffee farms, and therefore did not significantly affect production.

Also, a truckers strike in Columbia last month caused shipments to fall dramatically, the expected shortfall of which may have caused traders and roasters to become nervous. The commodity broker told CNBC that Columbia now looks set to produce in excess of 1 million bags of coffee per month.

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