The aroma of a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee is enough of a reason for average Americans to get out of their beds. Coffee gets you going for the day and charges up the productivity level. Other than that, it’s a nutritious drink to enjoy occasionally.
Imagine a time in the future, where you may have to give up on this enchanting beverage altogether. It is not a hypothetical situation, but inevitable truth. A crisis is in the vicinity all because of our planet warming up.
Right now, it may not be one of the main concerns of the government, but it soon will be given its importance in the economy. Till then, it’s the flag bearers of the coffee industry who need to stop the impact of climate change from parting us from our favorite hot drink.
Are you obsessed with Arabica Coffee?
Coffee has mainly two variant but the Arabica variant dominates the U.S market. Globally, at least 60% of the coffee production is mainly Arabica and, the other lower quality variant is Robusta. The reason for Arabica to be so popular is its unforgettable taste. It is a slightly fruity and floral flavor with chocolaty and berry notes and hints of caramel and nut. The fruitiness will surely remind you of wild apricot and apple. The intensity of the flavors is balanced by the level of roast. No wonder, Americans drink almost 400 million cups of this coffee every day.
Arabica, also known as the mountain coffee is grown in high altitude tropical region at a cool temperature ranging from 15 to 24 degrees Celsius. It grows in well-defined moderate rainfalls and cannot tolerate a harsh climate. While it may be the most delicious coffee ever, it has poor climate resiliency. With the slightest temperature fluctuations, the whole harvest of the year becomes off track. And that’s why Arabica is more prone to global warming than any other coffee species. Its impact is increasingly making it more challenging for producers who want to grow the best quality.
Arabica is originated from Ethiopia but the highest grading variants are grown in Costa Rica. It allows the perfect climatic conditions to grow the finest quality. Gourmet coffee corners, corporate offices, and other high-end locations in America have not serve anything but pure Arabica coffee. But this good old Costa Rican coffee is turning to be a more luxury pick-me-up. Thanks to climate change.
There are mainly two factors why Arabica coffee is as pricey as it is.
Highly controlled growing conditions: Investments are in place to prevent production losses. Also, to maintain the growing condition so that the plants get enough nourishment. The extra expense automatically raises the price.
The requirement of a lot of Manual Labour: The berries don’t ripe at the same time and so the expert farm collectors handpick the ripened ones from time to time. It brings out the best quality.
But the more difficult it is to grow this crop due to the warming climate, the more the cost of production rises, which ultimately reflects in its market price.
How Climate Change Is Creating a Crisis in the Coffee Industry?
The rapid climatic change has pushed Arabica into the endangered category and is constantly becoming a threat to other coffee variants.
It is fascinating and worrisome to see that this industry is thriving on species that is now endangered. There is a stark contrast in what is happening in the market versus in the coffee plantations. The global demand for high-quality coffee is constantly rising on one hand, and on the other, the amount of suitable land left for coffee plantations is declining. A study on Climate Change says that more than 50% of the land under coffee plantations will be lost by 2050.
The Coffee belts are shrinking in areas where more than 80% of coffee of the world is grown, Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. Places like Columbia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Honduras where the livelihood of farmers depends on coffee production, are struggling to meet the basic supply limit. It is because of the environmental changes as the production in these regions is becoming uncertain.
A warming planet means melting caps and rising sea levels. A scientific report by National Centers for Environmental Information suggests that the rising rate temperature has doubled in the past decade. Another source says; our planet will be 3-5 degrees warmer than the previous century. It has some serious impacts like changing rainfall patterns, droughts, and so on.
- A lot of new diseases are emerging into the ecosystem. It is also increasing the population of coffee rust, berry borers, and other species that destroy the plant leaves, fruits, and flowers. Pest invasions are getting frequent in coffee farms.
- Arabica has several qualities or variants. The ones grown in higher altitudes are known to show superior quality than lower altitude tropical regions. But now, as the temperature is rising, the lower quality variants plantation may have to be shifted to higher altitudes for better suitability. It may completely knock out the high-quality Arabica. As a result, shortly what we may consider the finest quality Arabica in our cups will not be the finest.
- A longer harvest season assured a successful coffee production. But now, the seasons are getting shorter. The fruits are ripening faster and this again is degrading the quality.
Consequently, you can understand that, as the temperature rises, the coffee species will move towards extinction. It tells us, there would be a time in the future when the coffee industry may decline. This is the right time to invest in mitigation projects and look for alternatives to replace America’s favorite beverage coffee. Some work is already in progress by the giant coffee companies to preserve the high-quality Arabica.
Some researchers are conducting experiments in the field to developing variants that are resilient towards heat and droughts. Companies are also working towards other major environmental hazards like the water crisis and greenhouse emissions. These efforts can be consistent only if the funding keeps flowing.
Now, the question is what we are willing to do to see our coffee on the table. Can you see a future where coffee will be a thing of the past? Share your thoughts in the comments.