Will Coffee Run Out By 2080?

Will Coffee Run Out By 2080?

You often hear about the food crisis and the growing shortage of food for people. Coffee is also a crop that will be affected by climate change and global warming. Will coffee still be so easy to drink decades from now?

Experts are trying to figure out how sustainable coffee is and how it poses a looming global crisis.

Can coffee be produced indefinitely? This is a big question that no one seems to have an answer to. Industry experts and researchers respond to this question by saying, "Coffee can be produced indefinitely, but..." But what? Will coffee still be around in 50 years? How will the next century determine what constitutes good coffee?

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Coffee takes a lot of resources to grow and drink, at least in large part because the beverage's massive carbon footprint has contributed to climate change, making it impossible for us to drink coffee in a few decades. As a global daily commodity, coffee is the world's most traded product and the main export in many subtropical developing countries. The shortest journey from a coffee garden to a coffee shop in the United States is 1,000 miles (from Chiapas to Texas). But more beans require a long process, and shipping is only part of the complicated and expensive process.

According to a 2012 study in the journal of Agricultural Science and Technology, each kilogram of coffee in Costa Rica has a carbon footprint of 4.98 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent throughout the supply chain, with an estimated water footprint of 140 to 200 liters per cup.

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A sustainable economy means that coffee must be grown, sold, and distributed in a way that makes money. No coffee farmer should lose money. During the "coffee crisis" of 2001, when the price of coffee commodities fell below cost, many forward-thinking coffee companies, from leading players like Starbucks, Espresso, and Bitt Coffee to smaller boutique brands like Intellectual Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Stumptown Coffee, decided to use direct trade, farmers' cooperatives, infrastructure, To ensure a high quality and stable supply of coffee.

But all that could go out the window if climate change threatens to wipe out coffee by 2080. Scientists from Kew Gardens and the Environment and Coffee Forest Forum, which carried out the study, suggest:

In 2080, the best case scenario is a 38 percent reduction in the climate suitable for coffee growth, and the worst could be a 90 percent reduction. According to the known factors affecting Arabica growth, bioclimate has the greatest impact, resulting in severe losses and a high risk of extinction. The study is based on assessing the impact of climate on most Arabica.

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When removing coffee's vulnerability to leaf rust or other pests and diseases is combined with climate change, these upheavals are necessary.


Most of today's coffee trade is not sustainable, says Dr. Stephen Gliessman of the Institute of the Environment at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who specializes in "eco-agriculture". Dr. Gliessman believes coffee can be produced sustainably and not run out. But only if the coffee system is redesigned to include multipurpose plant species.

Dr. Gliessman has redesigned the model of coffee agriculture, first with shade trees to regulate the climatic conditions needed to grow coffee, but second with products that can be used or sold by farmers. This includes food and fruit trees (bananas, avocados, mangoes, heartberries, cherimoya, hazelnuts).

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These other types of crops bring a lot of money. Dr. Gliessman points out that they can also be used for firewood, building materials, and even medicine.

Finally, Dr. Gliessman adds, many species must have native trees, birds, and orchids that would otherwise be endangered by deforestation. In other words, "coffee forests" produce more than coffee, and coffee farmers need to be praised for their contribution to the environment and people.

Dr. Gliessman argues that these coffee forests must be able to survive climate change. "These low-altitude Robastas are grown in inelastic monocultural, full-sun conditions [in the open bulk coffee trade]," he says. Monoculture varieties are more vulnerable to pests and diseases, lack of genetic diversity, and climate change while rising temperatures make it impossible to grow even low-quality Robasta in low-cropping areas.

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In my opinion, climate change will increase the incentive for farmers to diversify their coffee cultivation... So coffee is again being grown under shade trees, originating from forest bushes deep in the mountains of Ethiopia.

In 2012 Dr. Gliessman helped the Agroecological Community Network, a non-profit organization that promotes this model and helps farmers adapt to it by giving coffee companies, which pay farmers more than fair trade, a way to grow beans in an environmentally sustainable way and provide full transparency in the process. The organization offers AgroEco® certification.

But other companies are pursuing diversity in coffee gardens in slightly different ways, led by industry leaders Keurig, Mars, and J.M. The World Coffee Institute, funded by Smark, Counterculture Coffee, and Intellectual Coffee, is researching coffee varieties that will survive the harsh, new, warmer environments of the future. Much of this research is aimed at creating varieties with higher yields, lower elevations, and higher resistance to diseases such as leaf rust.

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Tom Schilling, executive director of the World Coffee Institute, told US News in 2013 that in 2080 "you're likely to get your coffee from Texas or South France, not Guatemala."

Haley Drage, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, said: Starbucks has been researching ways to combat climate change for at least a decade. To promote research and the development of agricultural technologies and new varieties of coffee, Starbucks has a farm in Costa Rica dedicated to Starbucks' global Agricultural Center, which aims to grow crops that can adapt well to warmer climates at the same time. And coffee that is resistant to diseases caused by climate change, such as leaf rust.

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But Starbucks' Global Growing Center is more than just a genetic R&D center, Drage says: "These best practices will be available to producers around the world who are struggling to understand coffee growing techniques." For a large company, this may seem like an unprofitable act of generosity, but it also illustrates the gravity of the situation.

In A Coffee Cup

The growing industry is only one part of the coffee sustainability problem. The carbon footprint of most coffee does not lie in transportation and cultivation, but rather at the end of the supply chain: roasting, brewing, and drinking. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural Science and Technology, the carbon footprint of the coffee supply chain - in the case of Costa Rican coffee - is that consumption accounts for about 45% of the carbon footprint of a cup of coffee.

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In order to effectively reduce their carbon footprint, some companies such as Petz Coffee and Starbucks use LEED certified facilities. LEED is an international green assessment technology that encourages sustainable building development and management practices by providing owners with clear executive frameworks for the development, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings. In fact, Starbucks stores have more than 500 LEED certifications than any other company in the world. Pitz representatives explain that the supply chain recycles all pallets, burlap bags, and plastic packaging. However, Starbucks claims that it has reduced the energy it uses in its stores by 25 percent since 2013, which is as big a savings as when a hippopotamus opens its mouth. In addition, Starbucks has committed to buying only renewable energy.

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It's natural for small coffee shops to get to zero carbon emissions, but it doesn't seem so common for big companies. Perennial, conceived by Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz, is Carbon Balance, a restaurant cafe and bar that will open soon in San Francisco. The restaurant will be the forerunner of a new non-profit certified Zero Food Print, also unveiled by Lucky Peach founder Ying Teck Kong at the 2014 MAD conference in Copenhagen. Perennial chose Paramo coffee as its brewing site. But Paramo's owner, Gabriel Poscana, says the restaurant is far from being carbon neutral.

But according to Myint's account of a zero carbon footprint: "Perennial will list this as best practice and [practice] to some extent outside the frame to try and modify the best approach, and the inevitable carbon footprint can be addressed by incorporating food purchases into the associated carbon offsets." Perennial raised funds on Kickstarter the previous year for a greenhouse in Auckland that would double as a bakery for Paramo

Coffee is not a resource-intensive product, and experts agree that if coffee consumption continues 20 or 50 years from now, production methods will have to change, whether we like it or not.

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