How The Coffee Industry is About to Get Roasted by Climate Change
Fall is always a good time to create new habits, and coffee chains know it.
These days, they are desperately trying to find any excuse to get you to drink their java.
For restaurant operators, there’s to get repeat business. It’s a great scheme that seems to be working for some. Given what’s looming on the horizon, however, offering free coffee may no longer be an option for businesses.
Coffee Grown in More Than 60 Countries
Coffee beans are grown in more than 60 countries and allow 25 million families worldwide to make a living. Brazil is by far the largest producer, followed by Vietnam and Colombia.
Production has been modestly shifting over the past few years. With good rainfalls in Brazil and favourable weather patterns in other regions of the world, Mother Nature has so far spared coffee growers, but their luck may be running out.
Ethiopia Could be Profoundly Affected
A combination of effects, resulting from higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns, will make the land where coffee is currently grown unsuitable for its production.
According to the National Academy of Science, in Latin America alone, more than 90 percent of the land used for coffee production could suffer this fate.
It’s estimated that Ethiopia, the sixth largest producer in the world, could lose over 60 percent of its production by 2050. That’s only a generation from now.
As climate conditions become critical, the livelihoods of millions of farmers are at risk and production capacity is jeopardised. Other potential contributors to this predicted downfall are pests and diseases.
With climate change, pest management and disease control are serious issues for farmers who cannot afford to protect their crops. More than 80 percent of coffee growers are peasant farmers.
Pests and diseases will migrate to regions where temperatures are adequate for survival, and most farmers won’t be ready. Many will simply choose to grow other crops less vulnerable to climate change. Others may attempt to increase their coffee production, but the quality will almost certainly be compromised.
Coffee Quality Will Suffer
Higher temperatures will affect the quality of coffee. Higher-quality coffee is grown in specific regions of the world where the climate allows the beans to ripen at just the right time.
Arabica coffee, for example, which represents 75 percent of world coffee production, is always just a few degrees away from becoming a sub-par product.
The coffee wars we are seeing are not just about gaining market shares and getting consumers hooked on java. They are also about how we connect with a crop that is under siege by climate change.
Short of fighting climate change, we could be forced to alter our relationship with coffee. As current coffee-producing countries attempt to develop eco-friendly methods and embrace sustainable practices, Canada could be the next country where coffee is actually grown, not just roasted.
Within the next decade, with climate change and new technologies, perhaps producing coffee beans will be feasible in Canada.
So if a coffee chain is offering free coffee, take it. It won’t be long before coffee could become a luxury.
(Sylvain Charlebois is a professor in Food Distribution and Policy, Dalhousie University is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here)
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