Climate Change Might Put the Coffee Supply At Risk

Perhaps coffee is one of the proverbial canaries in the coal mine when it comes to climate change. No less than coffee giant Starbucks recently expressed concern about the global coffee supply being threatened by climate change. Jim Hanna, Starbucks’ sustainability director, told The Guardian, “What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean.”

Reuters reported last year that Kenyan coffee growers have been affected by climate change. Both excessive droughts and unpredictable rainfall patterns have reduced coffee production. For example, in the 2007/2008 crop year, the Coffee Berry Disease, caused by intermittent rainfall, reduced Kenyan coffee production by 23 percent.

Coffee companies need to address climate change

Clearly, it is in a coffee company’s best interest to help coffee growers adapt to climate change. As Hanna said, companies simply can’t afford to “sit by and wait until the impacts of climate change are so severe that is impacting our supply chain.” Companies need to look ahead. Or as Hanna put it, “From a business perspective we really need to address this now, and to look five, 10, and 20 years down the road.”

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) is a company that seems to understand the importance of climate change adaptation. GMCR and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently announced a partnership in coffee growing regions in Latin American and the Caribbean. Part of the partnership will include supporting climate change adaptation in certain areas where GMCR sources green coffee, or coffee beans in their natural state.

GMCR is also one of the six companies participating in the Partnership for Resilience and Environmental Preparedness (PREP), which is a one-year pilot program addressing the risks and opportunities climate change poses to both businesses and communities. Starbucks is the only other coffee company in PREP.

Support sustainable companies

If the mere thought of one day not being able to wake up to your morning cup of coffee sends you into a tizzy, there is something you can do. As consumers, we can choose to buy coffee from sustainable companies like GMCR. In addition to the company’s support of climate change adaptation, Fair Trade USA named GMCR the largest purchaser of fair trade coffee in the world.


Related Stories:

Fair Trade Grows in South Africa

Global Warming is Killing Chocolate

Will Your Favorite Wine Go Extinct?


Photo credit: Flickr user Anthony_p_c


Bonnie M.
Bonnie M5 years ago

Well- if these items- coffee, chocolate, wine and any other frilly item can serve as eye opener to a crisis due to climate change, ride the bandwagon. Politics and corporate profits will drive the machinations needed to institute some changes. Add to this drugs and other entrapments,
watch the sweeping changes to save their profits. Obviously, a cry to reduce waste,the trees , the environment or the oceans do not truly spell world-wide devotion not as much as coffee ,drugs,booze and techno-toys can. Sad,sad,sad.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

O.K.,.... it was bad enough when I knew NYC would drown from the melting glaciers, but my coffee??!! WE HAVE TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING!!!

Christina B.
Christina B6 years ago

Articles about how global warming will put chocolate / coffee / wine / whatever people take pleasure in eating at risk seem a bit naive to me. I'm not a denier of climate change, I just think these articles focus on popular food items because they are trying to make an impression, rather than actually raising awareness about global warming.

Robin R.
Robin R6 years ago

Starbucks has also offered fair trade coffee for over a decade - and they were the first company I ever saw to offer a discount to customers who bring in a reusable cup. Good for them for thinking of the future and setting a positive example, rising above their status as a large corporation and seeing past today's almighty dollar to encourage people to make the world a better place. I couldn't imagine life without my morning cup of coffee - but I do everything I can not to add to the massive amounts of garbage caused by people throwing away cups after using them once.

Brian M.
Past Member 6 years ago

Coffee will not be the first or the last species to go extinct as a result of climate change. Neither will we.

Brian M.
Past Member 6 years ago

Coffee will not be the first or the last species to go extinct as a result of climate change. Neither will we.

Caitlin G.
Caitlin G6 years ago

Exact thoughts as Dan M. has.

Carmen S.
Carmen S6 years ago

maybe many will will wake up when then can't get their coffee

Dan Martin
Dan Martin6 years ago

Coffee might be one of those things that motivates the unmotivated to take a stand.

Natalie Chow
N Chow6 years ago

There are a lot more important things at stake than coffee, like extreme damage to health of humans, animals, all living things. Death is far from uncommon with climate change. It may be natural (as it's happened before) but it is vastly accelerated by all of us.

Everybody needs to address climate change not just coffee companies.