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  • Writer's pictureCafé Porte

Is climate change affecting coffee?

Above pests, there is perhaps no greater existential threat to coffee — and the world in general — than climate change. The point is that climate change is real and human beings have played a role over many years

important in its origin.

It is evident that global warming will negatively impact how coffee is grown and therefore, its global production, but let's see how exactly climate change affects coffee.

New regions for cultivation

Historically, coffee has been grown in what is known as the Coffee Belt, an area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn where approximately 70 producing countries reside. Coffee requires a specific climate to grow, this is mild temperatures, warmer days and cooler nights, different rainy and dry seasons, humidity, etc. and the imaginary strip in the middle of the earth meets all of those conditions.

However, with rising temperatures, land suitable for growing coffee will move outside the traditional coffee belt. According to the 2018 annual report World Coffee Research, 47% of global coffee production It comes from countries that could lose more than 60% of suitable coffee plantations by the year 2050. This would directly lead to extreme economic situations for small and medium-sized producers, who do not consider moving as a solution.

And while new regions may be better suited to coffee production, this would require replanting entire areas with coffee trees and there would be no guarantee that these new areas would be equally suitable. We know, for example, that the high-end specialty Arabica variety tends to favor mountainous areas, whose high elevations satisfy many of the climatic needs mentioned above. The new suitable strip of land may not necessarily be equally mountainous.

To further compound the problem, another study finds that 60% of wild coffee varieties could be at risk of extinction...

Unpredictable weather

Climate change or global warming is destabilizing weather patterns, causing everything from floods to drafts and earlier than usual rainy seasons. Coffee is a fragile plant, which requires a lot

stability to be able to give us all the best of himself. That is, it is best with predictable weather, such as distinct rainy and dry seasons. Lacking this stability can cause trees to flower too early or sporadically, leading to uneven ripening of cherries, prolonging the harvest and making it difficult to harvest crops at their ideal ripeness.

Uneven ripening and prolonged harvests prevent a producer from maximizing his yield, reducing his already minimal margins. If we combine all these situations, along with other possible problems that

coffee growers, can lead them to make the sad and hard decision to stop growing coffee.

Higher temperature means more threats

Outside of climate change, the two biggest threats to coffee production have been leaf rust and the coffee borer beetle, and as average global temperatures rise each year, coffee farms are becoming more suitable for both. Along with unpredictable rainfall, higher temperatures have created an ideal growing environment for Hemileia vastatrix, the fungus that causes coffee rust, devastating crops and reducing yields by up to 82%

according to some estimates. Similarly, the coffee borer beetle enjoys warmer climates, where it destroys crops by boring into coffee cherries and planting its eggs inside the seeds.

Decreased workforce

Coffee harvesting is a manual, labor-intensive process that relies heavily on migrant workers. Without skilled labor, the coffee simply will not be picked and will die in the vineyard.

Unpredictable weather not only hinders the growth of coffee, but can limit the available labor needed to produce it. And a changing/expanding coffee belt would theoretically decentralize coffee production even further,

making travel between harvests for skilled workers even more unsustainable.

Disruptions in shipping

Most of the world's coffee is grown in a country other than the one in which it is consumed. And to reach its final destination it is necessary to ship. Depending on the volume, transportation is usually carried out by ship. With the polar caps melting

Due to climate change, sea levels are rising globally.

According to Shipping and Freight Resource, global warming is causing shipping channels to reroute, as well as increasing damage to port infrastructure and reducing productivity. These can add unpredictability and delays to shipping times, as well as price increases. As an agricultural product that operates on slim margins, coffee cannot be managed either.

We lack a lot of data and a lot of analysis to be able to have a clear complete picture of how global warming has impacted or will affect the coffee trade. What we do know is that it is wrong, and we also know that without rapid intervention on a global scale, this can only get worse. And if that doesn't happen soon, we may not be able to repair the damage.


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