Coffee News Lifts Climate Anxiety

Photo: Getty Images

If you have been feeling a little anxious about the lack of action on climate change mitigation, there is some more news to raise the stress levels. The coffee industry is getting seriously concerned that changes in weather patterns are threatening the growth of Arabica bean crops.

While there are many varieties of coffee bean, Arabica is the bean of choice for most of the world’s freshly brewed coffee.

If your caffeine hit comes in the freeze-dried variety, you have less to worry about, but for the rest of us, yes, it probably the right time to start getting concerned.

Coffee is a temperamental crop, which may or may not be related to how temperamental we get we’ve had too much of it or not enough. Higher temperatures, drought, higher rainfall rates and subsequent insect infestations are all bad news for sensitive Arabica coffee crops, and if these patterns continue, the world could be facing some serious shortages of espresso and ristretto by 2050.

It’s not just inner-city hipsters and caffeine junkies impacted here. People from all over the world love their coffee. The global coffee industry is worth an estimated $100 billion. The export trade alone is worth around $19 billion, while the coffeehouse industry in just the USA is forecast to generate more than $32 billion in revenue in 2016.

Coffee is one of the most traded products in the world today, in fact, only the oil trade has a higher value than that of the daily grind.

The International Coffee Organization estimates that global coffee bean production was 143.3 million 60kg bags for the year to June 2016. Yet, even that level of production was not enough to match consumption, which reached 152.2 million bags over the same period.

Coffee plantation worker in Chiang Rai, Thailand, picking red coffee seed. Photo: Getty Images 

The figures are staggering, yet there is much more than money or even our coffee fix at stake; the industry employs some 25 million coffee farmers, most in third world nations, and many earning less than $2 a day. Without the coffee farms, entire communities would lose their sole source of income.

Are we prepared for a world without coffee? We have long suspected that coffee is fuelling the rising middle classes. Then there are the European nations to consider, perhaps not rising at present but most definitely caffeine dependent? Collectively, Europe doubles the next highest coffee consuming regions of the world.

Economic meltdowns are one thing, but how are Europe’s coffee-loving nations expected to plan for a future with a limited coffee supply? And how do we?

Feature Image Courtesy: Tract Consulting
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