April 13, 2018

Coffee for the 21st Century

The rising temperatures of climate change have impacted coffee farms across the globe. In recent years the threat of La Roya (“coffee rust”) has increased in high altitude areas, which were once thought safe from the cold-sensitive disease. La Roya is a fungus that feeds off the Arabica coffee plants and infects the leaves, which eventually fall off and the tree dies.

Popular for their exceptional taste, the beloved Arabica coffee plants require a considerable amount of attention and care because of their high susceptibility to diseases and pests. Depending on which varieties, some Arabica coffee plants need substantial amounts of fertilizers to ensure a successful yield. These fertilizers accelerate the production of nitrous oxide emission, a harmful and powerful greenhouse gas. Furthermore, many farmers like to use the popular brands which, unfortunately, are loaded with more toxic chemicals.

If this unbalanced cycle of supply and demand continues, the coffee we drink today will become less accessible, and more expensive.

In 2017, the National Coffee Association reported there has been a 27% increase in adults who drink specialty coffee, compared to 6 years ago. Consequently, the demand for the traditional Arabica varieties like Bourbon, Typica and Gesha have gained even more popularity, contributing to the green bean buyers’ purchasing decisions. The rising demand calls for the farmers to keep up with their production, despite the threat of La Roya and unpredictable climate patterns.

If this unbalanced cycle of supply and demand continues, the coffee we drink today will become less accessible, and more expensive.

One solution to the environmental threats of the coffee production is to invest in new coffee varieties, or so called, “coffee plants for the 21st century.” These new varieties are more resilient to diseases and highly adaptable to a changing climate and will “result in major global productivity and quality gains in the next 10-20 years” (World Coffee Research).

Costa Rica is leading these efforts with the recently established NAMA Café to help the country’s goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2021. They are working together with ICAFE, one of the key public institutions in the government coffee sector, to provide the producers proper education on these new varieties and ways to reduce carbon emissions.

During the Global Specialty Coffee Expo 2018, Fulcrum will be hosting cuppings and discussions with these two important industry leaders. If you are interested in agricultural sustainability, climate change issues, and/or are a barista, a green bean buyer, or if you just like coffee, this is a great opportunity to learn more and enjoy delicious coffee.

Please join us – see details

Costa Rica collage