Climate change, or global warming, is affecting many aspects of the world we live in today, and coffee is no exception.
The growth of coffee is reliant on the environment in which it is able to flourish, warm days and cold nights are essential. Of course, just like any other plant, it needs sunlight, air, nutrients and water from the soil. These elements produce the chemicals that the plant needs to grow and enable reproduction. The chemicals are also the things that contribute to a good taste: organic acids, aromatic compounds, and sugars.
Will the taste of coffee be affected?
The temperature change from warm days to cold nights, shock the plant and stores the chemicals into the seeds (beans). Over time, as the cycle of warm and cold continues it adds more and more layers of flavour. Once ripe, picked and roasted the layered compounds develop the taste. A shift in the temperature, causing warmer nights, will alter the process and in turn not produce the great tasting coffee you have grown accustomed too.
Why are the warmer temperatures bad?
So now we know that specific climates are needed for producing great quality beans. As climate change accelerates and the planet warms, the regions ideal for growing coffee will narrow as around the equator will become too warm. A temperature rise of 3°C would slash the area suitable for coffee production by two-thirds in Brazil alone.
Other than the taste, here are some other issues that could arise from an increase in temperature:
A fungus named Hemileia Vastatrix or La Roya grows especially well on coffee plants and happily in warmer temperatures, global warming is creating the perfect environment for it. This disease got its name from the rust-like appearance on the leaves of the coffee plant, causing beans to fall from the leaves early, which results in poor quality and flavour.
The rise of temperature across the globe means that the borer beetle, an unknown pest in coffee havens like Ethiopia and Uganda, has moved home to the tasty leaves of the coffee plant. Forced up into the hills, this pest is causing millions of dollars in damage every year.
Extreme weather conditions:
Climate change is having an impact on natural events too: droughts, storms and devastating winds to name a few, all of which could impact coffee growing communities. In 2014 Brazil suffered a severe drought, having to ration water and increase coffee prices by 50%.
If you needed another reason to help battle climate change, this is it! Although we are far from coffee going away forever, we are already starting to see the impact now. Keep drinking great coffee, while you still can!