- On April 12, 2017
- Climate Change, Coffee, Farms, Roasting, Social Cause
How Climate Change Affects Coffee
A serious disaster is brewing: climate change is threatening coffee crops in every coffee producing region in the world.
According to NOAA & NASA, in 2016 the earth’s surface temperatures were the warmest on record- and it’s only getting warmer. These rising temperatures are attributed to a phenomenon known as climate change.
Climate change is causing irregular rain falls and prolonged dry seasons, which directly affect the viability of coffee farming and overall coffee quality. Not only does it affect the product we all consume daily, but it affects the livelihoods of over 125 million people who depend on this resource as their source of income and survival.
As climate change gets worse price of coffee increases, reducing the availability of coffee from different regions and limiting the overall supply. In this blog, we will discuss how climate change is directly impacting coffee, introduce the organizations raising awareness to combat climate change in the coffee community and provide you with a direct way to help make an impact.
One of the major challenges climate change is posing for coffee farmers is an increase in damaging parisites and fungi, which thrive with warmer temperatures. Coffee leaf rust (“roya” in Spanish), for example, is a parasitic fungus that takes energy and nutrients directly away from the coffee plant.
The fungus is very sensitive to cold, so although coffee leaf rust has a documented history from the late 19th century, coffees grown at higher elevations were typically outside of the range of the fungus. However, rising temperatures are causing coffee rust to reach these higher altitudes and are destroying crops that were once held safe by lower temperatures.
Many farms have lost their entire production and many others have been unable to produce the quality of coffee their buyers require. Recent increases in coffee leaf rust in Central America has led to the loss of over 1.5 million jobs.
Similarly in Tanzania, Uganda and Indonesia, warmer temperatures are causing the coffee berry borer (a temperature-sensitive parasitic insect) has become a more prominent issue. This pest causes over $500 million in crop damages every year. With continued increases in the global temperature, it is certain that we will continue to see issues like this worsen across all coffee-growing regions.
Climate change is also leading to water shortages, directly affecting coffee production around the world. In 2014, Brazil experienced one of their first major droughts causing the country to lose nearly one third of the country’s crop.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts it has ever had. As farmers are forced to find ways to adapt they will begin moving upslope and further away from the equator which can cause major deforestation issues and increases the difficulty in growing and harvesting the coffee.
According to a global study, by 2050 the warmer temperatures and changes in rainfall will cause a 50% reduction in lands suitable for coffee growing.
Coffee farmers across the globe will need to find ways to adapt to this new and ever changing climate. They will need assistance in planting new varieties, experimenting with new forms of shade as well as growing additional crops to help supplement their income.
This is more than a small issue – it is an epidemic affecting millions of people from over 70 different countries. Getting consumers invested in climate change is critical because it creates the business incentive required to invest in the work of helping farmers adapt. We have to start thinking in new and unusual ways to help these farmers become more sustainable and create new methods.
How You Can Make An Impact
On April 12th two of Vigilante’s coffee roasters embarked on a cross country road trip to the U.S. Coffee Championships where they will compete against 11 other top roasters in the country for the U.S. Roaster Championship. In efforts to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on coffee, we decided to make it a focus of the trip by exchanging knowledge, posing questions, and sharing how climate change will and has impacted your daily cup of coffee.
The trip will include stops in various cities and National Parks to educate coffee lovers about how farms are being impacted by climate change and what can be done to preserve the drink we love so much and the communities that support it.
Where the Vigilantes will be stopping
- Chicago, Illinois – Pop Up at Goddess & the Baker (4/14)
- Guerilla Pop-Up in Boulder, Colorado (4/15)
- Guerilla Pop- Up at Rocky Mt. National Park (4/16)
- Guerilla Pop- Up at Yellowstone National Park (4/18)
- Guerilla Pop-Up in Seattle, Washington at the U.S. Coffee Championship
Here is how you can help:
- Ditch the car and ride a bike
- Compost & Recycle
- Use a reusable cup
- Support organizations who are working to fight climate change