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Your daily cup of coffee could soon cost more and lose its special taste

Ethiopia's coffee beans are in jeopardy due to the impacts of global warming.

by: Ceili McGeever | 21 Jun 2017

(Images - iStock)

Global Warming is slowly creeping up into direct corners of our lives. It's latest take-down is now turned towards our daily cup of coffee, a drink many of us rely on so much and simultaneously take for granted. But the issue goes further than our caffeine necessities, affecting supply on a global scale.

A report was released on Monday by the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew in Surrey, that suggests that due to the serious effects of climate change, Ethiopia could see dramatic changes in their growth and production of coffee plantations. Declining rainfall and increased temperatures are the major shifts in weather that are predicted to severely disrupt around 40% - 60% of coffee plantations.

The report was compiled over several years by the group of authors who used satellite imagery of Ethiopian landscapes and climate projection modelling to conclude the effects of climate change.

Other issues

On top of climate changes, the increased heat is inducing more pests, promoting disease on crops, like the coffee berry borer beetle, which has caused millions of dollar losses annually, according to the New York Times.

Ethiopia is Africa's largest coffee exporter, and the world's fifth largest. According to the report, their coffee exportation makes up a quarter of their total export earnings. Their signature bean is the Arabica coffee been, which is grown at high altitudes in the Ethiopian highlands. The climate change impact could be reduced by moving plantations to more prosperous grounds, but as one can imagine, this is not a simple task.

The reduction in quality of crops is set to become a reality, which will mean that the aroma and taste of the actual coffee could deteriorate.

Demand greater than production

It's no secret that the demand for coffee has seen a major boom in recent years, coffee shops sprouting up in major Western cities as the European coffee culture became a paramount trend. And if Cape Town's burgeoning coffee culture is anything to go on, this demand has no intention of dwindling.

The BBC reported that this consumption is set to outweigh production for a third consecutive year and that consumption has doubled in the last 35 years.

The issue won't affect coffee drinkers as quick as it will farmers and labourers in Ethiopia. The coffee industry employees 15 million people in Ethiopia, and it's been predicted that current coffee production could be reduced by up to 60% in certain parts of the country. Job losses could be massive, and the impact will be on some of the poorest communities in the world. 

How might it impact on SA?

In 2015, South Africa imported 2.8% of its coffee from Ethiopia. Although this may not sound like a substantial amount in theory, many smaller, artisanal coffee roasters like Origin, Bean There and Motherland, and other smaller coffee joints, use the fragrant Arabican beans in their blends and single origin roasts. You might end up paying more than that R25 a shot to enjoy your distinct, unbeatable cup of coffee, and eventually this flavour may no longer be the same.

In a nutshell:


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