Blog - Coffee Shortage
Posted by on Sep 16th 2016
If there are still folks in the world who deny the reality of climate change, hopefully the recent news about a threat to coffee supplies is enough to highlight the gravity of the situation.
In case you haven’t heard, coffee producers worldwide are more and more concerned about the ways in which climate change is impacting coffee production everywhere. According to The Climate Institute of Australia, Coffee is the second most valuable export in developing countries, and over 2 billion cups are consumed by individuals daily, so there is no doubt that the impact of a coffee shortage would be felt worldwide.
The vast majority of those coffee drinkers are looking to drink Arabica coffee, the world’s most popular coffee plant. Arabica coffee originates from Ethiopia but has become naturalized all over. Hawaii is the only state in America in which Arabica coffee is grown, and here in Pahala, we have the distinct pleasure of producing Ka’u coffee -- a variety that is frequently listed among the top Arabica varieties in the world.
But Arabica, in particular, is being threatened by climate change, according to The Climate Institute. A rise in global temperatures, paired with extreme weather conditions such as heavy rains and drought, has already caused a decrease in Arabica coffee production. In Brazil, one of the world’s leading producers of Arabica coffee, coffee production was cut by a whopping 30 percent due to drought. Add to the scenario an increase in pests like the Coffee Berry Borer, and you’ve got a picture of coffee being attacked from nearly every angle that it could be.
The biggest coffee companies in the world are facing this crisis and acknowledging that there’s plenty to be worried about. But it’s the smallholders of coffee plantations around the world that will be most immediately devastated if current trends continue. These farmers don’t have the resources to combat the effects of climate change on their own, and will need as much help as they can get if they want to avoid seeing their business disappear.
But what can be done? Surely, the world’s foremost scientists are working to combat climate change. And if changing temperatures and climate conditions are so extreme, isn’t coffee the least of our concerns?
Putting aside the worldwide disaster that would erupt as a result of people not having access to their usual source of caffeine, allow us to reiterate just how important coffee is to the world economy. It is one of the world’s most important agricultural products, and many countries depend on their export of coffee to support their national economies. A decrease in coffee production means less jobs, lowerincomes, and of course, no more Monday morning beverages to keep you from attacking your co-workers.
There are three things that can be done on the consumer level to help keep this apocalyptic situation from coming to fruition. Here’s what they are:
It’s not enough to know that climate change is real, and that it impacts the agricultural industry. We need consumers to stay educated about those who make up the industry. Is your favorite brand putting the Earth first when they grow, roast, and distribute their beans? Do they help their smallholders by using profits to kick back revenue to the growers, so that they can better prepare for the future and counteract climate change that has already occurred? In order to be the best consumers we can be, we need to know what our governments and big businesses are doing to help.
Choose Your Coffee Carefully:
Choose a coffee roaster that strives for and/or achieves carbon neutrality. Whether you’re talking about coffee or any other agricultural business, producers need to consider their level of greenhouse gas emissions and work towardminimizing their carbon footprint.
Trust us, coffee can be produced with minimalized harm on the environment. Here at Tree M Farms, we strive for a top-tier coffee product that involves an all-natural farming and production process. We feel that profit incentive should not override our desire to leave the world better than we found it.
Of course, many companies will always prioritize profit over ethics. We know that, as invaluable as the Earth is to each and every one of us, some agricultural companies think it’s all about the “bottom line.” But that doesn’t have to be the case. Wecan hold these companies and the institutions that oversee them accountable. Does your local government regulate greenhouse gas emissions thoroughly enough? Do your representatives in congress reflect your moral imperatives? Only you can prevent a worldwide coffee shortage… and you can do so by being an informed consumer and apart of a dialogue that puts sustainability first and foremost above profit.
Support businesses that share your desire for a world with coffee, rather than without. You can start by reading about the process that we use to ensure that the coffee we grow, roast, and distribute has minimized harmful effects on the planet. Order a bag of our premium Specialty Dark Roast online to taste a rich, flavorful coffee that we hope to keep bringing to you for many years to come.