Climate change and specialty coffee
The National Geographic explained that by the year 2050, the agricultural climate is going to look very different from what we know it today. For the coffee industry, this could mean decreases in production, changes in flavour and increased costs… but before you call up the authorities, it’s not all doom and gloom. Due to the many conservation efforts, environmentalist organisations and the global love for specialty coffee—your morning cuppa isn’t going anywhere!
In this blog we cover the impact of climate change on the specialty coffee industry. There’s lots to unpack when it comes to climate change, definitely too much to cover in one blog! So, we recommend you conduct further research if the topic grabs your interest.
The impact of climate change on the agriculture industry
A little disclaimer… Unfortunately, writing about climate change isn’t the most optimistic topic. As you read, you will discover that climate change is having a devastating impact on the specialty coffee industry and agriculture as a whole, and not for the better.
Warming temperatures are seeing tropical crops move further and further North, trying to escape the increasing heat of their previous home. Foods are thriving in areas where they haven’t before such as avocados in Sicily and citrus fruits in Georgia. If you type in “climate change” followed by your favourite fruit or veggie, there’s a high chance you’ll be met with detailed information on its changing condition due to climate change… coffee included.
Climate change and coffee growing
As temperatures warm the tropical regions, coffee plants are uprooting and looking for a new home. Coffee plants are quite particular when it comes to their climate, and as these tropical areas warm, they are becoming less suitable for coffee growing whilst other regions are becoming more suitable. For example, as Brazil’s climate warms, so too does Argentinas’ therefore, increasing Argentina’s suitability for growing coffee.
For coffee producing countries, this will have a big impact on their economy. For Brazil, who is currently the world’s biggest exporter of coffee, their coffee growing land is predicted to decrease by a whopping 79% As their land becomes unsuitable for growing coffee due to changes in factors such as soil pH and/or texture, Brazil and other regions in a similar situation will need to turn to different avenues to support their economy.
Other regions to keep an eye on in the next 30 years are China and the US who are expected to welcome ideal climates for coffee growing. Along with these changes it’s also expected that costs of coffee will increase. What was once seen as an everyday essential might become a prized treat… so make sure you savour every sip whilst you can.
Extreme weather conditions and coffee crops
The coffee plant is very sensitive to its environment, and even small changes in temperature, rainfall, and humidity can have a significant impact on its growth and production. One of the most significant threats to the coffee industry is the increase in extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, heatwaves and storms. These events cause constant systemic shots to the crops, greatly reducing yields, which can lead to shortages and price increases.
Speciality coffee and leaf rust
Another way that climate change is affecting the coffee industry is by increasing the prevalence of pests and diseases. As temperatures rise, pests such as the coffee berry borer are able to survive and reproduce more easily, leading to higher infestation rates and lower yields. Similarly, warmer temperatures can lead to the spread of diseases such as coffee leaf rust, which can devastate entire coffee plantations.
Sustainable coffee organisations
Across the supply chain, the coffee industry has seen a great increase of impactful sustainable coffee organisations dedicated to supporting the many coffee farmers that are being hit the hardest by these climatic changes. There are many organisations local to each region as well as some bigger names listed below. With every organisation’s support, we’ll be able to conquer climate change and continue enjoying our delicious cups of coffee.
The Sustainability Center of the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA)
This is an organisation that is dedicated to advocating for the sustainable growth of the coffee industry. They do this by helping specialty coffee regions improve their methods, they support farms in initiating price increases and provide vital resources on farm profitability and climate change. They run SCA events, release reports and promote members of the organisation where they can.
One of our trusted green bean suppliers, the team are constantly investing in initiatives that benefit the future of the coffee industry. They released a study conducted in Vietnam that concluded a more diversified farm results in a lower carbon footprint, which could play a big part in protecting our natural resources. In addition, earlier this year, they investigated further into a new coffee species called Stenophylla that might be able to better brace the growing extreme weather conditions. This is only a small glimpse into their impressive dedication to encouraging sustainability for the coffee industry.
Another special mention to one of our green bean suppliers (who grow and source the best Colombian and Peruvian coffees!) is Cofinet. Cofinet has countless programs and activities, all dedicated to improving the environment for coffee growing. Some of these programs include: growing a nursery dedicated to native trees of Colombia, encouraging impactful water conservation processes amongst farms and hosting informative events to educate and encourage the sustainable practices.
The future of speciality coffee with climate change
Although climate change is resulting in many difficult challenges for the environment, due to the world’s great love for coffee and all of the wonderful benefits it brings farms, livelihoods and economies—we’re certain that your delicious morning brew isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon… except into your stomach!
There are many organisations, coffee growers, consumers and scientists that hold this special plant as of utmost importance and are doing what they can to protect this wonderful crop.
The best way to support? Is to drink, buy and promote coffee!
Choose specialty coffee roasters who have a transparent supply chain, give good margins to the specialty coffee suppliers and have a genuine love and passion for the industry. If you’re located in Perth, you’re in luck as there are many wonderful roasteries that uphold these qualities (… us included).
If you’re looking for a speciality bag of coffee beans, we would love to help you and chew your ear off with all of the wonderful farms we feel privileged to present to you on our shelves. Unsure where to start? Give us a call, email or visit us in Bibra Lake, Perth. We look forward to having a coffee with you soon.