Those who reside in western urbanized cities, expecting to dodge the impacts of climate change should prepare for a jolt: global warming is leading to bad, expensive coffee. What will the impact of global warming on Arbabica beans be?
Almost 2bn cups of coffee are consumed every day. in the west and largely around the world the drinks popularity has risen in recent years. it is even the UKs most imported product. But a perfect storm is brewing. Rising heat, extreme weather and ferocious pests mean the highland is running out of cool mountainsides on which Arabica beans in particular grow.
This is a topic that we believe should always be refreshed and a genuine reminder of the impeding dangers of global warming.
“The rise in global temperature is of great concern for us in the coffee industry because it will – and has already started – putting the supply of quality coffee at great risk,” chillingly stated by Dr Tim Schilling, executive director of the World Coffee Research programme. Therefore one impact global warming may have on Arabica beans is likely to be cost related.
In order to really understand the problem, lets view some of the alarming facts. The International panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that if Brazil, the world’s biggest coffee producer, were to have temperature rise of 3C would slash the area suitable for coffee production by two-thirds.
The dangers to coffee stem from its origins in the highlands of east Africa, where the relatively cool and stable climate found between 1,500-2,800m allows the berries to thrive. But at 23C and above, the plant’s metabolism starts to race, leading to lower yields and, crucially, a failure to accumulate the right mix of aromatic volatile compounds that deliver coffee’s distinctive taste. with these changes you can also see the impact of global warming on Arabica beans will be one of reduced product quality.
Worse, pests like the berry borer beetle and leaf rust fungus are flourishing as the world warms. Leaf rust has already savaged recent harvests in the coffee heartlands of Central America, with yields down 40% in 2013-14 compared to 2011-12. (IPCC)
For many of us living in the western world, the tangible long term impact of lower coffee yields may mean nothing more than an increase in the price of our morning coffee and a potential reduction in the quality of our coffee. Not ideal, but hardly a life changing event that will fundamentally alter the manner in which we live our lives. The 25 million households who rely on the coffee crop to feed their families will not been as fortunate. Infact the impact of global warming on Arabica beans will be harshly felt by those that’s main income source is cultivating this precious resource we all take for granted.