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6 July 2017

Coffee Production Being Threatened by Climate Change

A lot of us look to coffee to make it through the day. Some people need a strong cup in the morning before they can even think about the day ahead, so it’s pretty devastating news that the effects of climate change may soon be felt in our daily dose of coffee.

It’s recently been discovered that up to 60% of Ethiopian farming land could be lost by 2100 as a result of the world’s warming climate. The combination of higher temperatures and lower rainfall could have a harmful impact on the production of coffee beans which are commonly grown on Ethiopian soil, affecting demand worldwide.

A report from World Coffee Research (WCR) estimated that demand for the beans will have doubled by 2050, while the land needed to grow it will have halved. The market for coffee is likely to be put under strain, but not just because of the impact on production. As the climate changes, the quality of the beans is affected just as much as the ability to grow them.

The WCR report found that coffee quality tends to be better in areas where temperatures are lower as it allows the beans to ripen slower, giving more time for the flavour elements to flourish. As warmer weather becomes the norm, the beans ripen too quickly and the quality of flavour declines, something that a consumer is certain to pick up on.

Since 1960, Ethiopia’s average temperature has risen at a rate of .28 degrees every decade, meaning the country may end up having warmed by almost 3 degrees by the 2060s. When combined with the fact that precipitation has dropped by 20% since the 1970s and droughts have become far more common, the country and its coffee production are definitely in trouble.

It’s currently unknown how deeply this will impact UK coffee drinkers in the years to come, but with the world’s fifth-largest coffee producer predicted to go through such a struggle, there will definitely be repercussions felt on this side of the globe. Compromises may have to be made over the quality of coffee that people drink, or the flavour that they choose, even if the availability of it doesn’t suffer too much.

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.