Coffee has been around for ages. Even before it became the fancy drink of aristocrats and the wealthy, it was already something that ordinary people could only enjoy in its stale form. The average person would be satisfied with coffee substitutes like malt coffee to avoid splurging too much on their daily brew.
Coffee is something that has been around for a long time and has been talked about a lot. To start, people who could afford it would drink “real bean coffee” which was made from beans grown in their country. This kind of coffee became more and more available as time went on, not only because the economy depended on it, but also because the area of growth became more widespread.
It’s so tasty that malt coffee was able to exist alongside real coffee. Without being devalued or outmatched.
So well, that drinkable coffee beans were offered as instant crumb versions, and coffee alternatives made from ginseng or barley became popular, especially among people with allergies.
We all know how much the world has warmed up, so it’s no wonder that coffee, which needs cold temperatures to grow, is being challenged by climate change.
Not everyone agrees on what the impact of climate change will be on coffee production.
There has been a lot of discussion about how coffee prices and availability might change. While some people see this as a terrifying future and there’s nothing we can do to change it, others believe that we still have time left to make coffee more available for everyone.
It’s hard to pinpoint the consequences of climate change and coffee cultivation, but we can’t deny that it is happening and is affecting the world’s production.
The impact of climate change on coffee production:
Be super careful with your coffee plants. It’s really important to keep them in a good environment. This includes having the right soil, humidity, and sunshine. If not, your plants may grow too slow or produce some nasty beans that are too small or don’t taste great.
Coffee doesn’t grow everywhere and even the typical regions for coffee cultivation only have varieties that are fitted to the area.
The weather is vital to the success of a harvest, but it’s changing thanks to climate change.
Coffee farmers have been feeling the effects of this climate change since the 1990s.
There have been drastic changes in the amount of Mexican coffee harvested. In 15 years, there has been a four-million-bag decrease in production across Mexico’s finances.
One factor influencing the production of coffee is climate change. There is a lack of precipitation in Central America and a rise of 1°C or more in West Africa.
On the other hand, there are also some more long-term consequences of climate change that affect coffee farming. For example, temperature changes can lead to plants spreading new illnesses such as Roya de Cafe.
A fungus that attacks and destroys the leaves of the coffee plant. Temperature, rainfall, and wind speed all rise, allowing coffee rust spores to spread more quickly and densely.
The shift in “catchment area” is particularly drastic at high altitudes, where coffee plants are vulnerable to a fungus called coffee rust.
Several factors have made the spread of this disease more rapid, including heavy rainfall and increased wind speeds. This has resulted in people living in higher altitudes being more vulnerable to infection too.
What are the consequences for coffee farmers?
The coffee farmers in Colombia have been deeply affected by climate change. In a survey done in cooperation with the Colombia chapter of aid organization Action Against Hunger, it was found that around three-quarters of the interviewed coffee farmers said they’ve been dealing with more extreme and frequent droughts.
At the same time, a lot of farmers reported that erosion & landslides had increased on the slopes of their coffee plantations.
Colombian coffee farmers have seen an increase in rainfall rates and harder rains. This has had a big impact on the amount of coffee harvested. Over the last 5 years, they’ve lost 50 million bags of their harvest because of this.
At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict harvest times due to the changing conditions.
Coffee plants are blooming later or unevenly, there seems to be a visible change in the natural ripening period, and planned harvests are no longer reliable.
There’s always a chance that there won’t be enough harvesters or that too many people will become dispensable. This is happening in Mexico and other countries in Central America. Climate issues have already caused more than 3.5 million people to lose their jobs.
It’s predicted that up to 90% of coffee-growing farms in Latin America will be affected by climate change by 2050.
According to agricultural scientist Wilfried Bommert of the Institute for World Food Supply, 80% less available or usable arable land must also be expected in South America, especially in Brazil.
The coffee industry is declining in regions of the world where it grows near the equator. This means that farmers there will slowly lose their ability to farm & provide for themselves. There’s no good substitute, so they probably won’t be able to find jobs elsewhere.
Why has the price of coffee in Brazil risen recently?
Brazilian coffee beans are incredibly expensive, more than they’ve been in seven years.
The reason for this is that there was initially a drought, says Christian Bunn, an agricultural economist at the International Center for Tropical Agricultural Research in Cali, Colombia, and at the University of Göttingen in Germany.
Then, in the past few days, there was an unexpectedly strong frost. This caused the Arabica plants to turn black and die. The result was that “80 percent of the harvest failed in some places.
Experts predict a change in coffee-growing regions.
Coffee experts have been saying that climate change is affecting the coffee industry, mainly because it’s destroying certain coffee-growing regions.
For that reason, it could help to cultivate new regions. One study shows coffee is already being grown in China’s southern regions.
That may be true, but coffee farmers in Central Africa & South America have nothing to gain from the increase in Industrialized Countries’ coffee consumption. There’s also no guarantee that there will be enough countries to replace those that are currently producing coffee.
Highland coffee comes from highland farms in the mountains because it cannot grow in the lowlands. Yeretzian also admits this, but in the short term, there is no way for it to happen.
Harvest maturity takes 2-4 years. What’s worse, much of the land that might be suitable for cultivation is already being used for other things.
Convincing people to change to coffee production is certainly difficult. Until they start making more money doing it than their other crops.
However, even in the best-case scenario, where coffee production can be successfully relocated to more northerly climes, there will still be repercussions that reach into our Western European cup of affluence. Probably not a great idea.
What does it mean for us if climate change impacts coffee?
Climate change is affecting coffee cultivation in Germany, leading to decreased export volume and increasing prices. The importers pass these prices on to the consumers.
We’re paying more, and frankly, it’s not worth the price. Changing climates are messing with the natural development of coffee beans & that’s making our favorite brew less tasty. Plus, it’s getting quickly diluted over time by other flavors in the market.
People have been trying to fix the problem with new varieties for a while. Robusta coffee can tolerate more changes in climate than Arabica, which is sensitive.
However, it’s unclear whether. Arabica can be adapted to producing Arabica-like flavors. Furthermore, the increasing number of coffee varieties bred in laboratories poses other problems.
The higher-yield coffee trees are often the lower-quality Robusta trees. These high-performance plants, whether Robusta or not, are becoming increasingly susceptible to diseases.
Turning things on their head like that is the whole point at the end of the day. What’s more, it can destroy biodiversity in general. So we’re not going to get any better-looking coffee in the future anyway.
How to protect the coffee from climate change?
Check out this article about how research labs are trying to combat crop losses due to climate change by breeding new varieties of plants. On the plantations, though, the highly bred coffee plants had more problems with climate changes.
Many new coffee varieties, for example, are not hardy enough to withstand the insidious coffee rust. This is because it spreads all the better under the changed climatic conditions.
What are the coffee farmers doing to address the issue?
It’s become popular to use pesticides. These, however, appear to be detrimental to the already endangered bee population. These insects are especially important for the pollination of coffee plants.
Wild bees are more likely to hang around coffee plantations in regions where there are a lot of forests nearby. If you’re in the growing region, forests are probably within 3km or so from your coffee plantation.
Pesticides have proven to have adverse effects on the environment and consumers, so they are anything but effective at their goal of safeguarding coffee cultivation.
But if neither new breeds nor pesticides can secure the future of coffee, what then? The World Food Institute’s agricultural specialist Bommert believes there is only one answer to the problem: a change in agriculture.
This would require education and ecological efforts. For example, if coffee-growing areas are being reforested, then the Rainforest Alliance has been promoting this since 2009.
Trees around coffee plantations provide direct benefits to the beans by shading and protecting them from unfavorable environmental conditions. This also helps the biodiversity of pollinating insects and improves groundwater quality.
While in Colombia, we saw many examples of natural partitions that also provide refuge. They were scattered in between different coffee plantations and trees with bamboo.
The gradual is a magical place. Anyone who stands in it can feel it: the protected trees, the biodiversity of insects and animals that live in them. All these things serve the balance between nature and humankind, ie sustainability.
Reforesting coffee farms is good for the soil, but it does more than that. For instance, it can produce lumber along with coffee beans on the same land, so they provide natural sources of lumber while also maintaining the quality of their crops.
This means only global measures to fight climate change can save coffee cultivation.
However, as long as there are still people who don’t care about the environment and climate change, people who deny it even exists, coffee growers and consumers will continue to fight a losing battle. Even if everyone switched to organic and fair trade coffee,
The Future of the Coffee Industry
We’ll still have coffee, but the way it’s made and processed will change. Other changes in the supply chain will also be likely, so you can get your morning cup of joe.
So drop the tension and let’s believe that coffee will evolve with today’s knowledge and technology. Let me give you another quote: “Evolution, not revolution.”
One step at a time is all you need to make it out there. We’re here with you to provide solutions that help prep your java-loving heart for the long days ahead. What will you do today?