If you’re a coffee drinker, take note! Climate change is expected to have a significant impact on the global coffee industry, as coffee plants are sensitive to changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, and humidity, which can affect their growth, yield, and quality. Higher temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns can create conditions that are less favorable for coffee cultivation, leading to decreased yields and lower quality beans. As a result, farmers may need to adapt to new growing conditions or move to higher elevations or latitudes to maintain their crops.
The global north consumes the most coffee, with the US topping the list, yet most coffee is grown in equatorial and tropical climates. The distance between producer and consumer means that about 15% of the emissions associated with production and consumption of coffee is associated with transportation. Further complicating matters is that a majority of us rely on coffee from only two key species: Coffea arabica, known as Arabica (most widely used by large companies like Starbucks), and Coffea canephora, known as Robusta. The more popular Arabica beans are less resilient to climate change.
Climate change can also have indirect impacts on the coffee industry. For example, extreme weather events such as droughts or floods can damage coffee crops and lead to shortages, which can drive up prices for consumers. Changes in coffee production may also have broader economic and social impacts on the communities that depend on coffee farming for their livelihoods.
To address these challenges, coffee producers and researchers are exploring a range of strategies, including developing new coffee varieties that are more resilient to climate change, improving farming practices to increase efficiency and reduce waste, and investing in technologies such as irrigation and shade-grown coffee to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
What can you do? Support sustainable coffee farming practices and give your business to companies that prioritize environmental and social responsibility. Steering clear of disposable cups and pods, which come with their own climate impacts, is a good idea, too.


photo: Ulyana Peña, Zanzibar, Africa