Climate Change and Its Effects on Coffee

(excerpted from our newest in the Javatrekker Series on Climate Change, coming soon!)

Climate change is finally starting to receive the attention it deserves from politicians (well, some still think it's a hoax...we won't name names) and industry leaders, but will this attention prove to be too-little-too-late for your future cup o' joe? Some studies have found that if current climate trends don't improve, our precious coffee may be extinct by 20801!

In the coffee industry, rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and unpredictable rainfall patterns are affecting millions of farmers. Farmland is destroyed by droughts and floods, crops are failing in the heat, and diseases are spreading in new climate regions.

The gradual warming of the planet is the most obvious face of climate change, as well as the most impactful. Many do not realize that a temperature change of a few degrees, even in a region with drastically fluctuating seasonal temperatures, can have an extreme effect on the natural balance of an ecosystem. The wild form of Arabica coffee can only grow in an 18-21°C temperature range - that is only between 64.4 - 69.8 degrees Farenheit! (That's nothing for us New Englanders, who often get snow storms and sun burns on the same day...)

If the temperature creeps even a few degrees higher, the berries will ripen prematurely and be unusable for coffee. Colombia, one of the main coffeelands, may see a temperature increase as high as 6°C1. And a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology reported that for every degree Celsius that the temperature rises in East Africa, coffee crop yields decrease 14-27%2.

Examining coffee trees with farmers

As the heating of Earth’s surface is altered, wind currents and weather patterns follow. Some regions are experiencing unprecedented floods and the associated land loss while droughts cripple farmland and native forests. In recent years, some coffeelands along the equatorial belt are experiencing devastating droughts that are destroying a variety of crops. A combination of these unpredictable rain patterns and pockets of unusually warm air is causing major changes in air and ocean currents, leading to severe storms and weather events.

Hurricanes are becoming much more common and destructive. Sudden periods of incessant rainfall cause floods, landslides, and erosion. And droughts do not simply damage the natural flora and fauna but increase a region’s risk of debilitating wildfires3

Wildfires destroy valuable land

This is really the tip of the iceburg. We could go on and on about the coffee rust, or the coffee berry borer, or loss of suitable land, or deforestation or...

Dean’s Beans is committed to fair trade organic coffee that is (and will always be) sustainably sourced with the farmer, the consumer, and the environment in mind. Our organic certification and shade-grown coffee protect and enhance soil, water, air, and worker health. "Sustainable" can be a buzz word, but for good reason. Using your purchasing power on sustainable choices, like our coffee, will maintain natural ecosystems, keep pesticides and GMOs out of the coffeelands, and guarantee that your coffee is the highest quality that nature has to offer.

To read more, check out our Climate Change Guide - FREE so we can get the word out! Oh, and happy #NationalCoffeeDay. Hopefully, we'll still be celebrating in 2079 with our free Pumpkin Spice Lattes...

A new report from the Climate Institute, published on August 29, 2016, states that “Climate change is projected to cut the global area suitable for coffee production by as much as 50% by 2050.” See their infographic below for a visual representation of the struggles coffee farmers are facing due to climate change.

 from The Climate Change Institute

  1. Iscaro, Joel. "The Impact of Climate Change on Coffee Production in Colombia and Ethiopia." Global Majority E-Journal 5.1 (2014): 33-43. American University Economics Department. American University, June 2014. Web. 30 June 2016.
  2. Ross, Philip. "Climate Change Effects On Coffee Production: How Hotter Weather Is Killing The Global Arabica Bean Market." International Business Times. IBT Media Inc., 01 May 2015. Web. 1 July 2016.
  3. Ahmady, Irhash, and Sam Cossar-Gilbert. "Setting a Country Alight: Indonesia's Devastating Forest Fires Are Manmade." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 07 Nov. 2015. Web. 3 Aug. 2016.