Coffee & Climate Change

Happy Friday and belated Earth Day, coffee community! 

Yesterday we did some great reading on climate change, coffee, and how the two affect one another. Coffee, as many of us already know, is a multi-billion dollar industry that supports economies in dozens of coffee producing countries. According to The Economist, roughly 100 million farmers depend on it for their livelihoods. Unfortunately, this quintessential crop that so many of us rely on happens to thrive within a very narrow range of temperatures and climatic conditions. Because of this, it shouldn’t come as a shock that its survival is threatened by a rapidly changing climate.

Climate change could make about 50-88% of coffee-producing areas unsuitable and lead to an increase in pests and diseases, affecting both its production and quality. We read in a BBC article that by 2050 about half of land used for high-quality coffee will be unproductive. While this news is quite alarming, we can utilize it as an urgent call to action.

Like many agricultural commodities, the coffee industry has struggled immensely with its large carbon footprint. A team of researchers at University College London concluded that “coffee produced by the least sustainable means generates as much carbon dioxide as cheese and has a carbon footprint only half that of one of the worst offenders – beef.” However, they also found that changing how coffee is grown, transported and consumed can slash the crop’s carbon emissions by up to 77%. Through supporting producers who use less fertilizer, manage water and energy use more efficiently during milling, and avoiding shipping coffee by air, we can slowly but surely reduce coffee’s carbon footprint.  

While our first priority should be to slow down climate change, we can also dig into the research of scientists who are helping the industry prepare for complications and possible extinction of certain varieties. Dr. Aaron Davis of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Britain reports that his colleagues and him have tracked down a type of wild coffee with a pleasant quality and an extremely high tolerance to draught.

Stenophylla (Coffea stenophylla) is a rare and wild coffee from West Africa that tastes like Arabica coffee. Until it was re-discovered growing wild in Sierra Leone, Stenophylla was thought to be extinct outside Ivory Coast. Dr. Davis’s studies suggest that the wild coffee plant can potentially tolerate temperatures at least 6C higher than Arabica.

In a BBC article, Dr. Davis said “We were completely blown away by the fact that this coffee tasted amazing. It has these other attributes related to its climate tolerance: it will grow and crop under much warmer conditions than Arabica coffee.” Seedlings are being planted this year so that Dr. Davis and his team can start to assess the coffee’s potential in “safeguarding the future of coffee”.

We hope that you have been enjoying earth week, your coffee, and are always keeping this beautiful planet’s best interest in mind! 

~

This week, our wonderful Quality Coordinator Barbara is coming to us live with a review of the Washed Caturra from Carmen Estate Coffee in Panama.

“The first thing that you notice in this cup is it’s bright and sparkling acidity, like fresh squeezed orange juice, balanced and consistent throughout. The body of the coffee is reminiscent of whole fat milk, creamy and smooth in a way that creates a sense of fullness on your tongue, yet still delicate and silky as is so distinct to the Boquete region of Panama. On the aftertaste, I noted strong flavors of vanilla with a subtle macadamia nuttiness.

This coffee immediately drew up memories of holiday chocolate bark- a mishmash of dried fruits and candied citrus peel, broken up by the occasional nutty crunch, and enrobed in creamy, smooth milk chocolate.

Tasting notes: Milk Chocolate, Mandarin Oranges, Macadamia Nuts”

Reach out to us for more information on Carmen Estate coffees. 

~

Thank you, and have a great weekend!

-Carina