Say it ain't so. It appears that the latest victim of climate change could be a magical bean we enjoy everyday — coffee. Colombia, one of the world's largest coffee producers, produced three million fewer 132-pound bags of coffee last year than in 2006, and people are starting to wonder if peak production of the Arabica coffee bean is already behind us.
Across the planet, climate change is being blamed for intense, unpredictable weather, and Latin America is no exception. In Colombia, the hotter and wetter climate equals pest problems for coffee plants.
The reduction in yield comes with increasing coffee demand from many developing countries, and brands like Maxwell, Yuban, and Folgers have already increased their prices by 25% in the last year as supply diminishes. Unless coffee growers expand, it is quite possible that the bean will continue to decline over time as the planet continues to warm up.
But there's hope yet for us coffee lovers. Scientists are teaching farmers how to control the most common pests, climatologists are predicting more accurate weather patterns for growers, and geneticists are breeding new strains of coffee that can resist pests and higher temperatures. But coffee heads may not be quite as fond of the new strains compared with the standard Arabica we're accustomed to.
Maybe Congress will jump harder on climate legislation when their Starbucks costs $2 more per cup, and doesn't taste quite as good.
Photo: Paul Smith/New York Times